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Posted In: Feline Health & Wellness, Canine Health & Wellness

Parasites are common in pets, yet many pet owners don’t know much about them, and when we think of parasites, we instinctively think “Ewwww!” In this two-part series, Dr. Ryan from the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America will discuss the most common parasites affecting pets and what you can do to keep your pets safe.


Tapeworms are one of the most common types parasites affecting our pets. There are several different kinds of tapeworms, but fortunately it is very unlikely that humans can get these tapeworms from their pets.

Dogs and cats get tapeworms from ingesting an infected host, like a rodent or rabbit. More likely, our pets get tapeworms from eating fleas, which are also a host. As you can imagine, fleas are incredibly annoying to our pets, and they will chew and groom themselves to stop the itching. They usually end up eating the fleas. Then tapeworm eggs settle in your pets’ small intestines where it develops into an adult tapeworm.

The adult tapeworm is made up of small segments, and as it grows these segments break off and pass with stool. You may see the segments, which look like pieces of white rice. You might not notice other signs until your pet is heavily infested, like weight loss or your pet “scooting” across the ground.

Tapeworms are easily treatable with a prescription medication from your veterinarian. Prevention includes flea control with a monthly preventative, cleaning up after your pet, and not allowing children to play in areas that are soiled with pet feces.

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at three locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.