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Tapeworm in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

3 min read

Worms and dog parasites can affect our furry friends so it’s important to know the difference between them and what they can mean for your dog. In this article, we’re looking at tapeworm in dogs, what it is and how it can be treated.

What is tapeworm infection in dogs?

Tapeworms are a long, flat intestinal parasite that is common in dogs. These worms are segmented, and each part is about the size of a grain of rice. These segments attach to the walls of your dog’s gut using their ‘hooks’. 

How is tapeworm in dogs spread?

Tapeworm is spread through infected fleas. These fleas carry the tapeworm larvae which, if your dog ingests, will grow into a tapeworm. This might happen if your dog is grooming themself. 

Is tapeworm infection in dogs common?

Tapeworm is pretty common in dogs due to how easily it’s spread. Fleas can be controlled with flea prevention products, but it’s a possibility that your dog will pick up a flea while out and about and ingest an inflected flea just through everyday grooming. 

A tapeworm infestation is easily treatable but can be a bigger cause for concern with immunocompromised dogs. If your dog falls into this category make sure to contact your vet for advice.

Symptoms of dog tapeworms

If you’re concerned that your dog might have tapeworm, it’s a good idea to contact your vet. See the typical signs (or symptoms) of tapeworm in dogs below so you’re aware of what to look for.

Segments of the tapeworm in dog poop

You won’t see a full tapeworm (4-8 inches) in your dog’s poop – you’re more likely to see tapeworm segments. This could be in their poop, on the fur around their anus, or on their bed.

Weight loss

Weight loss is only seen in severe cases or heavy infestations, but can be a sign of tapeworm in dogs. This can be alongside eating normally.

Scooting or licking

Another sign could be your dog might be scooting their bottom along the floor. They might also lick their behind.


Sometimes, a long tapeworm can cause dog vomiting. This is rare but you may notice segments or a whole tapeworm in their vomit.

Diagnosing tapeworm infection in dogs

Your vet might ask for a dog poop sample. They will often look at the sample under a microscope, and may be able to see tapeworm eggs or segments, confirming the diagnosis.

It’s always important to contact your vet if you’re concerned so you can get the right treatment for tapeworm in dogs.

Tapeworm treatment in dogs

The good news is that tapeworm is usually easy to treat with deworming medication. There are a number of options available, including tablets or spot-ons, and your vet will advise you on the best choice for your dog. 

It’s important to get tapeworm treated otherwise it can lead to health issues and an infected dog also risks contaminating the environment, and so continuing the lifecycle. 

How to prevent tapeworm in dogs

Tapeworm in dogs is relatively common, so it is important to take steps to try and prevent it. Here are some simple precautions you can take:

Flea prevention medication

The flea and tapeworm lifecycles are closely linked, so controlling fleas helps to prevent tapeworm infestation. There are lots of options available, including tablets, spot-ons or sprays.

Watch your dog closely

Tapeworm can be spread by eating infected prey (mainly rabbits and other rodents), so make sure they don’t scavenge when out and about.

Clean up after your pet

Tapeworm is spread by swallowing an infected flea or rodent but as a responsible owner, it is important to clear up your dog’s poop.

Start a de-worming plan

This should be in place from when your dog is a puppy. It’s best to speak to your vet to tailor a plan to your dog’s individual requirements.

My dog has tapeworm, can I get them?

Although rare, it is possible for a human to get tapeworm from their dog. This can either be by direct transmission or by accidentally eating an infected flea.

Can tapeworms be passed from cat to dog?

Tapeworm cannot be directly passed from dog to cat (or any other pet). In order to be infected by tapeworm, they have to ingest what is known as an intermediate host - in other words the host flea (or rodent). So, if a dog or cat is infected, they won’t pass tapeworm directly to another pet. However, if 2 dogs (or cats) are grooming each other, they could ingest an infected flea from each other’s fur. 

We hope this article on tapeworm in dogs was helpful. Tapeworm can be a bit worrying, but it is a common worm in dogs that can be treated –contact your vet for advice. Next, make sure to check out our article on ringworm in dog for more information.