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I'm pretty sure I've just seen a tapeworm in Sasha's stool. I won't be able to get her to a vet for a couple of days, so I wonder what I can do to protect her, the family and my other pets. We have an adult dog and two indoor cats.

She was dewormed with Safeguard (fenbendazole) at six weeks and a month later, but its possible that it wasn't the right dewormer for tapeworms. Is there something I can get from the pet store or an ag shop to get the cleanup process started?

Also, Sasha has been itchy since the day we adopted her. Topical treatments have done nothing to help and we've experimented with her diet in an attempt to rule out food allergies. Nothing has worked. Is it possible that despite not seeing any parasites she's had a flee problem all along? The vet said she didn't have fleas and not to use a flea collar or flea bath on her anymore.

I don't know where else she would have got a tapeworm, besides fleas. She does eat raw meat, but its always frozen for several days -- or even weeks or months -- in the deep freeze before she eats it.
 

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Yep, fleas are the main way they get tapeworm. I agree you shouldn't use flea collars or flea baths (they're toxic and largely ineffective), but some spot-on would be OK since summer's coming up. The other pets can't get tapeworm from Sasha; but keep an eye on their back ends because where there's one flea, there's usually a whole lot more. Unless Sasha got the tapeworms before you got her.

The medication you need is called praziquantel, they do sell it OTC (Tradewinds is one brand) but for me it's cheaper to pop by the vet's office and get some Droncit or Drontal. No reason for an office visit; just tell the vet you saw tapeworm segments and he/she should sell you the right stuff no problem.

But do make sure you actually saw tapeworm segments. Are there small rice-like flecks around her anal area? Were the worms you saw short or long?
 

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It is likely that all of your dogs have tapeworms. It is spread dog to dog very easily. Dogs lick their behinds, where thousands upon thousands eggs reside, and then lick each other and fleas are never confined to one dog. I would get all of the dogs dewormed at the vet. Safeguard is effective on tapeworms but I don't trust over the counter medications for tapeworms. Tapeworms are the hardest parasitic worms to kill so I always recommend going to the vet for treatment. The vets have the appropriate medications.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Is she getting something for flea prevention?
No. None of my vets over the years have ever recommended routine flea prevention for any of my dogs. I've only used topical treatment when we travel. Fleas aren't typically a problem here.

But do make sure you actually saw tapeworm segments. Are there small rice-like flecks around her anal area? Were the worms you saw short or long?
There is nothing around her behind. I saw what looked like a small, flat, white noodle... and it was moving. It was half an inch long, I'd guess.

It is likely that all of your dogs have tapeworms.
I'd assume so. Besides treating both dogs is there anything I should do about my home or yard? I have not seen fleas.
 

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I've had good luck ordering tapeworm meds online and treating the problem myself. BUT - you have to treat the fleas, too, or it will come right back!! I highly recommend oral flea meds. For example, Capstar will kill all adult fleas on a dog within a couple of hours, and it can be given as needed (even every day to treat a bad infestation). Program is an oral flea med that works as a preventative medication, and that one claims to protect for a month. I've had very bad luck with the popular topical meds (Frontline, Advantage). It may be because my dog seems to be especially susceptible to fleas, but vets have told me that the most popular flea meds are losing their effectiveness because the fleas are evolving resistance.

Until you treat the dog for fleas AND tapeworms, try to keep the dog out of your bed and away children as much as possible. The tapeworm segments (like the one you saw) are consumed by fleas, and the eggs hatch inside the flea. Then whatever animal swallows that flea (dog, human, etc.) gets a new tapeworm.
 

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Not really. The microscopic eggs are basically everywhere dogs have been.
As I understand it, just having the eggs around doesn't spread tapeworm. They need a flea to complete the life cycle. Or, jeez, we'd all have tapeworms all the time. Ugh. But I do agree that all the pets should be treated.

Yeah, if it was a half-inch flat noodle-y thing, that's a tapeworm segment. Nasty beasts.

Comfortis and Trifectis are oral meds that actually kill fleas for a whole month. Program just "neuters" the fleas, and while that's helpful in a bad infestation, it doesn't really do much if the dog goes outside and picks up new fleas all the time.
 

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As I understand it, just having the eggs around doesn't spread tapeworm. They need a flea to complete the life cycle. Or, jeez, we'd all have tapeworms all the time. Ugh. But I do agree that all the pets should be treated.

Yeah, if it was a half-inch flat noodle-y thing, that's a tapeworm segment. Nasty beasts.

Comfortis and Trifectis are oral meds that actually kill fleas for a whole month. Program just "neuters" the fleas, and while that's helpful in a bad infestation, it doesn't really do much if the dog goes outside and picks up new fleas all the time.
If the eggs are ingested the dog gets tapeworms. That's how the flea spreads it. The flea eats a tapeworm egg (ew) and then the dog, while licking and chewing, ingests the infected flea.
 

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Willowy and GottaLuvMutts are right. Most tapeworm species that our pets get have an indirect life cycle meaning that the eggs must go through an intermediate host (in this case fleas) in order to be able to infect another animal. The eggs are actually ingested by the flea larvae, and then the dog ingests the adult fleas while nibbling/biting themselves. So the egg packets, as gross as they are, aren't an immediate danger to the people or other pets in the house - although they've all likely been exposed to the fleas and infected from a common source. You can't get tapeworms directly from the eggs or egg packets in the environment.
 
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