How Do Dogs And Cats Get Tapeworms?

If you are a pet owner, you must have heard about tapeworms. No wonder, tapeworms make one big worrisome situation for most pet owners out there.

These tiny parasites reside within the gut of pets, mainly cats and dogs. They don’t lead to many serious problems and can be treated.

Nevertheless, they need to be considered and treated well in time. A tapeworm can grow about 4-8 inches long. However, you might not get to see them as their segments fall off as they grow.

How do dogs and cats get Tapeworms

These fallen segments are then excreted from the pet bodies normally. You may find these little segments crawling around your dog’s bedding or your cat’s backside.

Or you might find these dried out yellow specks stuck to your pet’s fur or bottom. These dried specks can cause your pets to scoot, roll over and lick their back out of irritation.

Or, in the worst case, these parasites may make their way out of your pet’s body through vomit, followed by weight loss, nausea, and infectious problems.

In either case, tapeworms need to be treated. If you are still scratching your head off, thinking where do these come from.

Here are some common ways how tapeworms make their way through the bodies of dogs and cats.


The most common reason for parasitic spread is the ingestion of a flea. Fleas are a tiny, wingless group of bloodsucking insects.

They are excellent carriers of several diseases, and they can turn out to be serious pests.

Fleas usually carry the larvae or babies of tapeworms. Dogs and cats mostly prey on fleas. Sometimes they might eat it away, or they might be reacting to a flea’s bite.

Fleas that have ingested tapeworm eggs or carry tapeworm larvae reside within the intestine of your pets. It grows into a tapeworm, within the pet’s intestine.

These tapeworms grow and shed their segments, which are then excreted via feces.

Or some are vomited out by the pets. While there are several other reasons, too, Fleas can be blamed for the significant spread of tapeworms among dogs, cats, and other animals.

Tapeworm Eggs:

Tapeworms are flatworms. They are white and have multiple segments, each the size of a rice grain. These are ingested by most of the animals through flea and then are defecated.

Alike many similar intestinal parasites, the eggs of tapeworms settle in the soil by way of animal’s fecal matter. Any kind of contact with such infected soil can spread tapeworms.

Tapeworms, when ingested, stick to the wall of your pet’s gut via hook-like suckers. It feeds from there and grows into an adult tapeworm within the intestines of pets.

Preying On Other Animals:

Another lesser common way of tapeworm spread is the prey of animals. As commonly denoted, dogs and cats have a scavenger instinct and fondly prey on other animals, including rats, mice, chicks, cockroaches, etc.

If your cat or dog has eaten an infected animal or insect, they will catch the infection or parasites themselves.

Tapeworms can also pass on from one animal to another, in case of incidental ingestion of infected feces that carry parasitic segments or eggs.

Other Causes Of Tapeworm Spread:

Tapeworms are flatworms that stick to the gut and dwell upon the intestine or digestive tract of their host; it can be any pet animal, dogs, cats, or even humans.

Once they have made their way inside the host’s body, tapeworms stick to the intestine walls and feed on the digested food.

Fleas and other hosts of tapeworms contribute the most to such parasitic spread. However, the only way these parasites can reach the host’s body is ingestion.

Your cat or dog can dwell upon tapeworms if they eat or drink something that carries tapeworm segments.

Or even if they consume food that is infected with these worms or carries tapeworm eggs. If you are the parent to more than one pet, extra care needs to be taken.

These parasites pass through fecal matters and can infect any animal or human that comes in contact with it.

Poor hygiene and inefficient cleaning habits can, therefore, contribute to this cause.

How To Prevent Tapeworms?

Although tapeworms are less likely to cause any serious harm to your pets, yet it needs to be considered. It might not prove harmful for your elder dog but may spread and cause illness in your pet cat.

Or at worse, it might even victimize the kids or other family members at your home.

Here are some easy ways how you can prevent tapeworms spread and ensure a healthy environment for your pets.

  • To control tapeworm spread, you need to control the main cause of its spread; flea infestation. Control fleas around your pet by monitoring their outdoor activities.
  • Keep a check on the behavior of your pets. If you find their eating patterns disturbed, or anything unusual with their moves, don’t procrastinate visiting the veterinarian.
  • Ensure a hygienic environment around the habitat of your pet. Clear off any litter immediately. Make sure to bury the fecal matter or dispose of it properly.
  • Do not allow your pets to play around anywhere that is suspected to be soiled with any excretory product.
  • Dead animals, trash, and garbage cans can also lead to the spread of parasitic content. It’s essential to keep your pets away from any such places.
  • Take good care of the personal hygiene of your pets. Ensuring clean food bowls, litter boxes, and regular showering can help the cause.

Wrap Up:

Tapeworm infection is caused by the consumption of infected items or fecal matter. Animals get tapeworm infection much faster as they observe poor hygienic activities and prey on other animals.

Tapeworms usually inhabit the intestines of the host and move out naturally. Most of the time, these parasites are harmless and will cause no or mild sickness.

However, under exceptional circumstances, they might cause serious illness such as abdominal discomfort, weight loss, and diarrhea.

Not to worry. Tapeworm spread can easily be prevented by caring for your pets.

Look well after your playful dog and pay more attention to your muffin-cute kitty and shrug off any sickness worries.

Happy petting to you!