Pumpkin seeds may help to kill tapeworms in dogs, as well as in humans, because of cucurbitacin, a chemical compound contained in the seeds. No studies have proven that these seeds will eliminate tapeworms from your dog. Studies on humans and goats have shown mixed results. Before you decide to treat your dog’s tapeworm problem with pumpkin seeds, consult your veterinarian.
What are Tapeworms?
Tapeworms are parasitic, segmented, flat worms that attach themselves to the intestinal wall of their host. The tapeworms mature while attached and begin shedding segments of themselves through the dog's feces. Tapeworms can reach lengths of up to 8 inches inside your dog. Thankfully, tapeworms normally don't cause serious health problems for adult dogs. However, they can cause severe anemia and intestinal blockages in puppies. Because dogs contract tapeworms by eating fleas containing tapeworm larvae, controlling fleas in your home is the best way to prevent your dog from being infected with these parasites.
Veterinarians treat canine tapeworm infections with an anti-parasitic drug called praziquantel. The medication can be given in tablets or by an injection. In either method, most dogs respond well to the treatment. The tapeworms dissolve and are digested by the dog so no remnants of the parasites turn in up the dog's stool.
What is Cucurbitacin?
Cucurbitin is an amino acid found in pumpkin seeds, as well as in squash and other crops that grow on vines. The compound works by paralyzing the attached tapeworms thus causing them to be eliminated through the digestive tract.
Effectiveness in Humans
A 2012 study conducted by the Institute of Parasitic Diseases, part of the Sichuan Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Sichuan Province of the People's Republic of China, found that mixing pumpkin seeds and areca nut extract to treat adult humans infected with tapeworms caused the participants to eliminate the worms more quickly than with other methods. Within three hours of taking both compounds, 89 percent of the participants expelled whole tapeworms. Fewer participants excreted tapeworms when given only pumpkin seeds (75 percent) or areca nut extract (64 percent), plus those excretions took 14 hours and 6 hours, on average, respectively.
Effectiveness in Goats
A study conducted by the Delaware State University Cooperative Extension program examined whether pumpkin seeds would reduce the fecal egg count in goats affected with worms. The study included 22 goats. Half of the goats had ground pumpkin seed mixed into their food daily for three weeks while the other half did not. The study found that the pumpkin seeds did not seem to reduce the number of worm eggs found in the goats' stool. However, the goats did seem to leave uneaten ground pumpkin seeds in their food. A preliminary study conducted by the same university found that using a different method to administer the pumpkin seeds did decrease the fecal egg count 11 percent compared to a 56 percent increase in a control group.