Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yikes, proglottids!

I was picking up the kennels the other day and noticed that one of the fecal piles had something that looked like grains of rice in it (yep, we dog owners look at poop and inspect it carefully). These grains of rice are actually the segments, called proglottids, of the tapeworm which is one of the more common parasites of domestic dogs. This parasite grows to around 10-15cm in length, with individual segments shed in the fecal matter. The tapeworm attaches to the wall of the intestine and sheds segments as it grows.

The intermediate host for dog tapeworms are fleas. The eggs passed out in a dog's feces are eaten by the larval stage of the flea, and the immature tapeworm stays with the flea through its metamorphosis to the blood-sucking adult. When the flea bites, the dog may bite at the flea and swallow the flea that contains the larval tapeworm.

The segments of the tapeworm are capable of limited movement, and if this happens in the dog's rectum or anus, it causes intense itching. Afflicted dogs may be observed to "scoot" or drag their butts to relive the itching. This, of course helps to crush the segments and release the eggs into the environment.

Tapeworms aren't dangerous to dogs or humans. And humans can become infected, it they are licked by the dog in the mouth. Mostly, tapeworms are indicators that there are fleas about and that premise control needs to be done as well as worming of the dogs. In order to treat tapeworms, one must use a broad spectrum anthelmic such as Droncit.

This hasn't been a horrible flea season at Surry; however, all of the dogs have been treated with Droncit. And it is also time to plow up the paddocks and put down lime in order to treat the entire kennel area.

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