Tapeworms are long, flat worms that attach themselves to the intestines of a dog or cat.

  • A tapeworm body consists of multiple parts, or segments, each with its own reproductive organs.
  • Tapeworm infections are usually diagnosed by finding segments—which appear as small white worms that may look like grains of rice or seeds—on the rear end of a pet, in its feces or where a pet lives and sleeps.
  • There are several different species of tapeworms that may infect a dog or cat, each with stage(s) in a different intermediate (in-between) host, which the pet eats. Some use fleas as the intermediate host; others use small rodents, such as mice and squirrels, as intermediate hosts.

How will tapeworms affect a dog?

Dogs with tapeworm infections may not appear to be sick and may not even lose weight as a result of the infection. However, a large number of tapeworms may cause illness such as diarrhea.

Can tapeworms affect a human?

Certain tapeworms found in dogs or cats may cause serious disease in humans. Fortunately, these tapeworms (Echinococcus species) are uncommon in North America. Following good hygiene practices and avoiding consumption of raw meats/fish reduces the risk of tapeworm infection for humans.

View the life cycle of the tapeworm.

View the life cycle of the tapeworm

To see the life cycle of tapeworms, click here.

For information on Bayer Parasite Solutions available to treat tapeworms, talk to your veterinarian.