Tapeworms in dogs and cats aren't a major problem unless you let them go too long. The trouble is recognizing that your pet has tapeworms. Of course, the best way to keep tapeworms away is prevention, as long as you know what to look for.
If you see anything that might indicate tapeworm, **get your pet to a veterinarian** right away.
Keep the Fleas Away
Fleas are bloodsuckers that feast on dogs and cats, and that's bad enough. But tapeworm eggs incubate in fleas that pets ingest when they bite itchy spots, clean themselves or eat something containing fleas.
Keeping pets away from fleas is essential to tapeworm prevention. There are several methods of prevention, from flea medications and collars to regular grooming and bathing.
The best prevention method, however, is limiting your pet's time outdoors, where mice and other animals with fleas are. If cats, for example, eat or catch flea-infested animals, they will almost certainly contract tapeworm.
Pets also catch fleas from simply being near infested animals, of course, so limiting a pet's exposure to other animals, even friendly ones, may be necessary. Once in your pet's fur, fleas will nest in her favorite sleep and rest areas where hair accumulates.
Sprinkle salt on any rugs or furniture before vacuuming. Salt will dry out flea eggs.
Signs of Tapeworm
Worms in Feces
Check your cat's litter or your dog's droppings closely. As tapeworms grow in a pet's body they will discard older parts of themselves. Usually these parts are the size of rice grains and they typically move, meaning they should be easy to spot.
Kittens and puppies are especially at risk to the negative consequences of tapeworm.
Worms could show up in vomit. If tapeworms get into a pet's belly, it could make her sick enough to throw up.
While most tapeworm infections are not severe enough to cause weight loss, it can happen. A sure sign is that your pet is losing weight despite an increased appetite. Tapeworms, after all, feast on digesting food, meaning pets aren't getting enough nutrition. Heavy tapeworm infection can cause a drop in nutrition and loss of weight.
A Word on Scooting
When pets scoot on their butts or bite at their backsides, people often believe that worms might be the culprit. Actually, pets usually scoot to alleviate pain and discomfort associated with a blocked anal sac. So scooting, contrary to popular belief, is rarely due to tapeworm infection.
Treating tapeworm is simple and effective these days. Vets will prescribe a pill that kills the tapeworm without disrupting your pet's digestion. The tapeworm will die and dissolve quickly and your pet will pass the worm as part of normal elimination.