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Lifecycle of a Dog Tapeworm


Tapeworms in dogs are a common problem. Your pet can easily pick up the tapeworm parasite, which will go onto develop into an adult worm inside their intestines.

In fact, tapeworms can grow up to 16ft inside a dog!

Dogs often won’t show signs of a tapeworm infestation, so it’s important to know how your pet might pick it up so you can take control of tapeworm.

How do dogs become infected ?

Dogs (and cats) become infected by tapeworm through an intermediate host, such as a flea, or hunting and scavenging other infected animals or by eating raw or undercooked meat.

  • Ingesting fleas - The tapeworm parasite is contracted through fleas, which act as an intermediate host, when flea larvae ingest tapeworm eggs. When a dog eats an infected flea, such as during grooming, the parasite settles in the dog’s small intestine. Here, the tapeworm is able to continue the next stage of its lifecycle, eventually maturing into a fully grown adult tapeworm. Wormers will interrupt this growth, that’s why it’s so important to stay up-to-date with treatment.

  • Scavenging - Other types of tapeworm can be contracted after scavenging from dead livestock, such as sheep or cattle, being fed raw offal, offal, game or hunting rabbits and rodents also pose a risk.


Image courtesy of Virbac

What are Tapeworms?

Tapeworms are intestinal parasites, and there are several different types of tapeworm that can affect dogs. Infected dogs may not show any symptoms, but some may develop itching around the bottom, vomiting and weight loss.

The most common type of tapeworm in dogs is the flea tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. Living in the dog’s gut, tapeworms feed off the food the host animal eats, reducing the number of nutrients available. Incredibly, a tapeworm has six sets of teeth that it uses to attach itself to the intestinal lining!

The flea tapeworm are long, flat, white worms , and can be up to 50cm long. They are made up from segments, which are shed at intervals and pass into your dog’s faeces.

Did you know that wales, specifically The Brecon Beacons are a hotspot for Tapeworms?





The flea life cycle goes from egg to larva to pupa before the final adult stage. The process can take anywhere from two to three weeks to several months, depending on the conditions. Adult cat and dog fleas can live up to one year in ideal situations, but only about one to two weeks if no host is present.


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