Tapeworms are disgusting parasites that live in the small intestines of a dog and feed off the animal’s blood. They may be as small as an inch in size, and in some cases can grow to a few feet long. Tapeworms will eventually cause a dog to lose weight, but the problem is weight loss can occur so gradually, the owner may not even notice it. This and the fact that most dogs don’t show any outward signs of discomfort can make the determination that a dog has tapeworms difficult.
If you suspect your dog may have tapeworms, look for the following symptoms.
- The dog may show signs of itchiness in or around the anal area. This can be displayed by his licking the area or by him “scooting” in an effort to relieve the itchiness.
- Signs of weight loss in spite of the dog maintaining his appetite.
- A marked increase in the dog’s appetite that does not result in weight gain.
- Regular occurrences of diarrhea.
- Distension of the abdomen.
- Dry and/or flaky skin.
- An increasingly poor hair coat that may be dull or dry.
- The dog may appear listless and lethargic.
To a much lesser degree the animal may experience some stomach pain, but oddly enough, that is not very common.
Tapeworm heads attach themselves to the wall of the intestines and to cure the ailment the heads must be destroyed. If the heads are not destroyed they will simply regenerate themselves. The ingestion of fleas and lice are the most common causes of tapeworms, but they also can be caused by the ingestion of raw meats.
If you notice the symptoms of tapeworms in your dog it is suggested you seek the advice of a veterinarian for treatment options.