Tapeworm Signs and Treatments for Pets

The tapeworm is a parasite found in the intestines or tissue of many mammals. Worm segments containing eggs are shed and passed in the stool, leaving the tapeworm head still attached in the intestine to produce new segments.

Of the most common types of canine and feline tapeworms, infection of the intestinal tract occurs by ingestion of an infected flea or infected wild prey (including rodents and rabbits).

Tapeworms can cause symptoms of:

  • diarrhea or blood tinged stool
  • scooting
  • variation in appetite
  • a poor fur coat, weight loss
  • vague signs of abdominal discomfort


Diagnosis of tapeworm infection is made by finding segments in an infected pet's stool or clinging to hair around the anal area. The eggs or segments are not always found in a microscopic exam of the stool. Fresh segments will be white, about 1/4 - 1/2 inch long and may expand and contract. Dry segments resemble sesame seeds or grains of rice.

Treatment to deworm your pet of the tapeworms includes oral and injectable medication prescribed from your veterinarian.

Most tapeworms are not passed directly from pet to pet, but require an intermediate host. Common intermediate hosts are fleas and small rodents. Pets will become re-infected with tapeworms if these intermediate hosts are not controlled.

Important Tips

  • Control fleas and rodents.
  • Do not allow your pet to ingest raw meat, fish, rodents, rabbits or garbage.
  • Have routine stool exams and dewormings performed for your pet.

If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact your Banfield hospital today.