Dogs often fall prey to worm infestation. There are different types of canine intestinal worms that cause serious illnesses in your pet. These types include roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, whip worms, and heartworms.
What Kind of Dog Worms Look Like Rice
Pet owners may observe small rice-like, flat worms in the stool passed by their dogs. This worries the concerned owners as they do not know what to make of their observation. If you too have spotted such kind of worms lately, then your pet is infected with tapeworm. These are intestinal worms that are classified as cestodes. The most common species of tapeworm that infects dogs is Dipylidium caninum. It appears like rice and is present on the stool, not in the stool. It is flat and has a segmented body. Tapeworms are white in color and attach themselves to the intestinal wall of the dog with the help of their hook-like mouth parts. They can grow up to 20 cm long and have the ability to break off into several individual segments.
How are Tapeworms Transmitted to Dogs
Tapeworm eggs are swallowed by flea larvae. The worms gain entry into dog's intestine after it swallows a flea. Normally, when a pet is bitten by an adult flea, it begins to lick or chew the skin. During this process, the flea may be swallowed and it enters the pet's digestive system. Here, the eggs of the tapeworm hatch and get anchored to the intestinal walls with the help of their mouth appendages. The flea is the intermediate host for the tapeworm. Without the presence of a flea, the tapeworm cannot complete its life cycle. Therefore, even if you are sure that your pet is free from fleas on its coat, you cannot be 100% sure that it hasn't swallowed a flea. This is the only way these worms can infect a dog. Lice too are carriers of tapeworm eggs, but their occurrence in the United States is very rare.
Pathogenic Conditions Caused by Tapeworms
Tapeworms can lead to many dog health problems. Their infestation leads to excessive weight loss and debilitation of the animal. You will find the dog scooting on its rear across the ground. This is because the broken segments of the worm cause irritation around the anus. If the tapeworm travels to the stomach from the intestine, it will cause irritation that leads to vomiting. You will observe one or more than one inch long worms in the dog's vomit. The dog undergoes depression, irritability, poor coat, mild diarrhea, and unpredictable appetite. If it is heavily infested with tapeworm, it will have severe anemia and weight loss.
Diagnosis of Tapeworms
Rice-like dog worms is the most important sign to diagnose a tapeworm infestation. You will see white, flat segments that crawl around your dog's stool. You will also observe that your dog may vomit and have convulsions. This occurs due to the toxin produced by the tapeworm. If you observe the dog's anus, you will find small white segments around the area. This causes the dog to scoot on the floor to get rid of the irritation and severe itching.
How to Get Rid of Tapeworms
Treatment for tapeworms is rather simple and effective. The veterinarian will prescribe praziquantel tablets that are very effective in getting rid of tapeworms. The medication tends to dissolve the worms within the intestines. Also, the veterinarian will suggest flea management to prevent reoccurring infestations.
If you observe dog worms that look like rice, seek immediate veterinarian help. This is because if left untreated, it may lead to severe anemia, malnutrition, weakness, and even death of the dog. Speak to your veterinarian for more information on dog worms and take appropriate action to rid your dog of them.