Tapeworm

Your cat or dog could cross paths with this worm in many ways.

Video: David Bellamy and Steve Leonard explain how the flea lifecycle works, and how tapeworm can integrate into this cycle and create major problems for our pets.

What do they look like and where do they live?

  • Tapeworm look like long, flat ribbons or tapes, divided into segments
  • Adult tapeworm live in the small intestine
  • Once mature the tapeworm releases segments containing eggs, these pass out in the cat or dog poo and may be seen (they look like small white crawling ‘rice grains’!)

How can my pet contract tapeworm?

  • Cats and dogs contract tapeworm by ingesting an infected intermediate host
  • Animals may need tapeworm treatment more often if they frequently hunt or scavenge, or have access to sheep/cattle carcasses – such as farm dogs
  • It is estimated that a cat will ingest around 50% of any fleas present on their coat through the process of normal grooming
  • A flea is the intermediate host for the most common tapeworm of dogs and cats, so even indoor cats can become infected by ingesting fleas

How will this parasite affect my pet?

  • If your pet has a tapeworm infection, you may not realise as cats and dogs infected with adult forms of the tapeworm often show no symptoms
  • Tapeworm segments in the poo can cause irritation resulting in pets licking the area excessively, and they may ‘scoot’ across the ground
  • Symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhoea can also occur

Can this parasite affect my health?

In extreme cases, and if humans inadvertently ingest some types of tapeworm eggs, cysts can develop within body tissues