What Do Canine Tapeworms Look Like?
- Tapeworm segments full of eggs is what dog owners are most likely to see. These resemble rice grains or sesame seeds, and they are commonly found on the dog's feces or around the anal area. Some may also be found on the bedding where the dog sleeps. Such segments are active, meaning they can be seen moving slowly when warm. However, once dry they tend to stop moving and break open to liberate the eggs inside. The active segments typically cause the dog to lick their anal area or ''scoot' across the floor, according to veterinarian Holly Nash.
- Many times dog owners refer to the rice-shaped tapeworm segments as if they were the actual worms. However, the actual worm is attached to the dog's intestinal wall where it can reach about 6 inches or more in length. Once the tapeworm matures, the segments, known as proglottids, break off and are passed in the stool. Tapeworm segment are separate, independent entities equipped with a digestive system and a reproductive tract, according to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center.
- Parasites and worms normally can be diagnosed in dogs by simply sending a fecal sample to the veterinarian's office, but in the case of tapeworms, the best way to diagnose a dog with this parasite is by visually inspecting the dog's anal area and feces for the presence of segments. Tapeworm eggs are not commonly released into the dog's feces and are therefore not easily detected by the routine fecal tests performed by veterinarians, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
- It is always a good practice to have a veterinarian see the suspected tapeworm segments in order to confirm their presence. The segments may be collected by using a piece of scotch tape and placing it against the dog's fur around the rectum. The segments should easily attach to the tape. Once collected, they can be placed in a sealed container for identification. Often, the tapeworm segments are mistakenly confused for maggots, the larvae of flies. However, these are not commonly found in fresh stools, according to veterinarian N.J.Hayes.
- Once the presence of tapeworms is confirmed, the next step is to start proper treatment. One of the most common de-wormers prescribed to dogs infested with tapeworms is Droncit, the brand name for the drug praziquantel. Dog owners should not expect to see the tapeworm expelled in the dog's feces since Droncit works by eliminating the worm's resistance to being digested. Therefore, the tapeworm is dissolved and processed by the dog's digestive tract just as any food would be, according to Vetinfo.com.