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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Tapeworms are common in cats and dogs and can be transmitted by flea bites - so controlling fleas is an important part of the treatment of the worms.

Tapeworms usually only cause minor signs in infected individuals including :

  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting

There are 3 types of tapeworm that infect cats and dogs :

  • Dogs - Dipylidium, Echinococcus and Taenia
  • Cats - Dipylidium and Taenia

Tapeworm infection can be contracted by : 

  • Eating undercooked meat
  • Eating rodents - particularly common in cats
  • Being biten by a flea or louse which is carrying the parasite

Diagnosis of tapeworm infection requires identification of :

  • A whole worm - sometimes vomited up
  • Worm segments - passed in the faeces. Sometimes they can be seen as of-white moving "grains of rice" clinging to hair around the anal region, or tailbase.

Treatment involves drugs to kill the adult worms which live in the gastrointestinal tract, and killing fleas or lice which may transmit the infection

Long term prevention involves routine worming -usually every 6 months, and routine prevention of fleas and other ectoparasites .

Your veterinarian will be able to advise you about the most appropriate products to use for your pets.


Updated October 2013