At my first stop this morning, I became acquainted with three dogs. The last two times I encountered them, we had not been formally introduced so they were excited and protective of their yard as I entered it. This time, the owner saw me coming and ushered the dogs into the house before I opened the gate to enter the yard. As I began cleaning, the owner called out to me. She was getting ready to leave for work but wanted to let the dogs out before she left. She said, “I’m going to let them out one at a time so they can get to know you.”
My first encounter was with Kilo, a boxer. He came galloping out of the house with full force, agitated that a stranger was in his yard. I knelt down beside my lobby dust pan and allowed him to approach me. With caution, he came nearer to me and sniffed around. I managed to pet him. Satisfied that I was not a threat, he bounced across the yard and dropped a fresh pile of poo for me to pick up.
Next, she introduced me to Gracie. True to her namesake, Gracie swiftly and gracefully approached me directly. She sniffed my face and licked my nose. Then, she went about her business.
Finally, Diesel came out to meet me. He came over, circled around me, and sniffed my dust pan. Deciding that I wasn’t that interesting, he went on his way.
After all three of the dogs went back into the house, I continued my first scan of the yard. I saw a tapeworm segment in one of the fresh piles the dogs deposited during our meet-up. Without hesitation, I knocked on the door and informed the owner about tapeworm infection.
If you didn’t already know, tapeworm infection is actually a sign of a flea infestation. You see, the flea is the intermediate host for the Dipylidium caninum tapeworm. Infection occurs when your dog accidentally swallows a flea containing the parasite. You might be wondering, How on earth could my dog accidentally swallow a flea? It is easy than you think.
Fleas are blood-sucking parasites. The females require a blood meal before they can lay eggs. As fleas bite your dogs, your dog becomes very itchy. Have you ever watched your dog nip or bite when scratching a flea bite? Sure you have. When a dog uses its teeth to scratch a flea bite is exactly the time an unsuspecting flea gets swallowed up in the jaws of your canine.
Now, as for this customer, the tapeworm infection is already present. The first course of action is to determine which dog has tapeworm. If you visit your veterinarian, they can give you a small device designed to obtain a fecal sample, or you can simply use a plastic baggy and take samples from each of the dogs into the vet clinic for analysis. After a short microscopic examination of the stool, your veterinarian can tell you which dog is infected with tapeworm. **Please note, fecal analysis does not always provide a definitive diagnosis.
Next, your veterinarian will likely prescribe medicine designed to kill the tapeworm. A couple treatments are usually necessary, spaced two to three weeks apart.
While you’re waiting on the tapeworm infection to clear from your dog’s system, the next course of action is to address the flea problem. Most veterinarians will recommend a monthly flea preventative. These usually come in packs of three droppers that you apply to the whithers of the dog. Certain products are capable of killing fleas, ticks, and eggs of both parasites.
As for home care, you will need to vacuum your carpet. Immediately following, take the bag out of your vacuum, place it in a trash bag, and place it outside in the trash bin. You’ll want to repeat this process several times over the next 90 days to ensure that all of the fleas and eggs have been removed from your carpet.
In adult dogs, tapeworm infection is usually asymptomatic. You will not notice anything unusual except for maybe a few small segments of tapeworm in fresh stool. Tapeworm segments look like flat grains of rice or cucumber seeds. This is usually the only observation necessary to determine tapeworm infection.
In small puppies, however, you might observe a pot-bellied appearance. Anemia and intestinal blockages could also occur, meaning that tapeworm infection in puppies is more serious than in adult dogs.
For more information on tapeworm infection in dogs, be sure to check out the following web pages: