a dog having an appointment at the veterinary clinic

Tapeworm in dogs: why and how to protect your dog from tapeworm

Like roundworms tapeworms are one of the most common types of worms found in dogs around the UK.

A good worming routine is all part of being a responsible dog owner – and it’s vital to protect your dog or puppy from the dangers of these pesky parasites. Your local vet will recommend the best treatment or over-the-counter wormer to keep your dog tapeworm free.

Did you know? 

Regular flea treatment can help to prevent tapeworm in dogs, as tapeworm eggs are commonly carried by fleas and passed to your dog when he or she ingests a flea while washing.

Does my dog have tapeworm? 

We’ve listed the common symptoms of tapeworm in dogs below, but it’s quite possible for dogs with tapeworm to show no signs or symptoms – and even the most healthy-looking pet can have tapeworm without you knowing. Your vet should always be the first port of call for advice, diagnosis and treatment of tapeworm.
With the risk of complications from worms being high, a regular worming routine is vital for your dog or puppy. 

“Even the healthiest-looking dog or puppy can have tapeworm without you knowing.”

Identifying tapeworm in dogs

As the name suggests, tapeworms look a lot like flat ribbons, made up of small segments – about the size of a grain of rice. These segments can break off and become visible in your dog’s fur, around the anus, or in your dog’s faeces. It pays to be vigilant, as these tiny, rice-like sections may well be the first sign of tapeworm in your dog.

The technical bit…

The tapeworm is a species of parasitic flatworm known as a cestode. The tapeworm’s mouth is filled with six sets of ‘teeth’ that it uses to attach itself to the lining of the dog’s intestine and feed on the nutrients from your dog’s food. The result is that your dog may begin to lose weight, despite being hungrier than usual.

Other signs and symptoms of tapeworms in dogs:

  • Increased appetite
  • Itchy bottom
  • Weight loss

How often should I worm my dog?

Your dog or puppy needs regular worming – sometimes as frequent as monthly – to keep them in tip-top health. Puppies are particularly at risk of contracting tapeworm, due to their immature immune systems. 
Most dog worming treatments kill tapeworms your dog has already picked up, but prevention is better than cure, so get into the habit of keeping those worms at bay!

While over-the-counter worming treatments can be very effective, the benefits are short-term, so a regular worming routine is vital for your dog. 

Your local vet will advise you on the best worming treatment for your dog or puppy. 

Eww! In the early 1900s, rich people were known to consume tapeworms as a way of losing weight. That’s one seriously extreme – and highly risky – diet!

Expert advice on worming your dog

For expert advice on worming your dog or puppy, contact your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.