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Are Tapeworms in Dogs Contagious?

Are tapeworms contagious to humans? What precautions should be taken to avoid worm infection? Here is a guide to know more about tapeworm infection in dogs.
DogAppy Staff
Tapeworm infection is commonly found in pets. Although it is not severe or life-threatening, it can cause a lot of discomfort to the pet. There are certain diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. They are known as zoonotic diseases; and tapeworm infection is one of them.
Tapeworm Infection in Dogs
Tapeworms are found in the small intestine of pets like dogs and cats. Dipylidium Caninum is the most common tapeworm found in dogs. They have flat bodies, a hook like mouth, and can grow up to 20 cm in length. Tapeworm infestation in pets can be caused due to fleas. Fleas eat fecal matter containing eggs of tapeworms. These eggs hatch in the stomach of fleas and turn into cysticercoids. The fleas, in turn, are broken down in the dog's intestine and the cysticercoids develop into adult tapeworms. The worms then attach themselves to the inner lining of the dog's intestine and feed on the nutrients in the stomach. The tail of the adult tapeworm, containing eggs, falls off and passes through the feces of the dog. These eggs come in contact with the fleas and the cycle continues.
Tapeworms do not cause any severe disease, but, they affect the dog's overall health. When the dog is infected with tapeworms, it shows symptoms like loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, and lack of energy. One may notice the dried sections of worms around the dog's anus. Sometimes, one may even find live tapeworms in dog's stool. Tapeworm eggs are commonly found in carpets and dog's bedding.
Are Tapeworms in Pets Contagious to Humans?
The answer to the above question is positive, but, it is not very common for human beings to become infected with tapeworms from dogs. However, toddlers and children are more susceptible to getting infected with worms as they have a weak immune system. Children are also not aware of the importance of maintaining hygiene, and hence can catch worms from their pets. People can get tapeworms from their pets only if the fleas get into the stomach of human beings through food. This is very rare, but it can be a possibility, and should not be ignored. One should also remember that getting bitten by fleas does not cause tapeworms in humans.
Tapeworm infection can be treated with drugs. These tablets usually do not cause any side effects and can be easily obtained from the vet. Along with the regular treatment methods, prevention of flea infestation should be carried out immediately.
Certain types of tapeworms are contagious to humans and other pets. Therefore, it is essential to undertake preventive measures in order to avoid infection. Firstly, it is essential to teach children importance of following good hygiene. They should also be encouraged to wash their hands before having meals and also after handling the pets. The dog house and bedding should be kept clean. Regular grooming of the dog should be undertaken to avoid flea bites on dogs.
Following proper preventive methods can help in avoiding the infection from recurring. It is therefore, recommended to take your pet for a checkup regularly.
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