A parasite Cestoda, sometimes also known as Cestoidea, is classified as a flatworm and in colloquially the family of organism is known as 'tapeworm'. The ailment because of tapeworm can potentially trouble most of the mammals and birds, by infecting and feeding off in the digestive tract. Though there are several and over a hundred species of tapeworms, that can attack the digestive tract and especially, the intestines of your canine friend, most notable species include:
- Echinococcus granulosus
- Echinococcus multilocularis
- Taenia species
- Spirometra mansonoides
- Dipylidium caninum
- Diphyllobothrium latum
It must be noted that these very parasites can infect the digestive tracts and systems of humans and other mammals such as cats and dogs. It must also be noted that this parasite in no way is small and in fact, its sheer size in itself is a grave concern, it grow to anything from 8 inches of an entire 1 foot or even longer.
Canine Tapeworm Symptoms
Canine tapeworm has some pin pointing symptoms in cases, where the infection has reached a certain level or gravity. In cases where the infection is mild with no symptoms, there are less chances of spotting it.
- If you find your pet, scooting or dragging the hindquarters across the ground, then remember it is one of symptoms which indicates that the infection has intensified. Such a reaction is seen when the broken of segments of tapeworm tend to cause extreme irritation while they are being excreted. The segments are also observed on the fur of the dog and they have the appearance of miniature rice gains.
- The same miniature segments would also be observed in the sleeping area or the bedding of your dog.
- A large swarm of flea, continual scratching of fur or anal area and licking the body repeatedly, due to irritation is also another symptom of tapeworm infection. It is best that you treat the tapeworm infection at this level as it intensifies significantly.
- Dermatitis, that is a significant inflammation of the skin, is observed due to the presence of flea, eggs and also the segments.
- In very small puppies, the infection also causes pneumonia.
- In life-threatening situations, blood loss causes anemia, bloody diarrhea and enteritis (intestinal inflammation) is also observed.
Progression of Tapeworm in Dogs
If you look at the anatomy of a tapeworm, you will notice that its upper end has a mouth which is made up of muscular grooves, with the help of which the tapeworm attaches itself internally to the organs of digestive tract. In most of the cases, the tapeworm thrives off in the small intestine. The mouth of this parasite tends to suck blood from the intestine which of course also injures the inner walls of the intestines. It must be noted that though the tapeworm mainly hooks itself to the inner walls of the smaller intestine, the probability of it being present in other organs of the digestive tract should also not be ruled out.
The tapeworm infection can tend to be highly contagious and there is also a tendency to infect the dog in a recurring manner. The tapeworm first hooks or attaches itself to the intestine's inner walls, upon which it starts feeding and in turn, growing a significant number of segments. These segments then break off from the tapeworm and act as reproductive instruments. These segments, which contain several eggs of the tapeworm are excreted upon which they dry out and the eggs become visible.
The eggs then either hatch or infect other animals, in case of sufficient contact. Often flea larvae consume these eggs and enter the digestive tract of the dog, once again, aggravating the situation. Several tapeworms in a dog's digestive tract can lead to serious symptoms and implications. The excreted eggs are very much contagious and can infect round about any living being, once consumed or at an incidence of sufficient contact.
Now, you must be wondering about the source of the initial infection of the tapeworm, well there are several reasons as a result of which the worms may enter your dog's digestive tract. One of the common reasons is the consumption of the meat of animals which have tapeworm infections. Some dogs catch the infection from other animals. Soil, sand, carpets, bedding areas, flea are some of the places which may harbor the eggs of tapeworm cause the infection in a dog.
There are also some signs that your vet might look for such as presence of segments near the anus or a minute examination of the fur. Whatever may be the case, antibiotics, medication and home based remedies are recommended immediately, after the symptoms are seen.