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Can Cats Get Tapeworms From Fleas

What Do Tapeworms In Cats Look Like

The Flea Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) – Plain and Simple

Tapeworms are long, flat worms that can vary in length. They have a segmented body and a head, which has suckers and hooks to help them attach to the intestine. Youre unlikely to see a tapeworm in this form, though. Once tapeworms begin to grow, segments of their body separate themselves from the main body of the worm. These segments can often be found behind your cats tail and look like small grains of rice. You may also see them in your cats faeces.

Preventing Tapeworms In Cats

Luckily, tapeworms can be prevented. Most veterinarians recommend deworming kittens during their kitten vaccination wellness visits, eliminating tapeworms and other parasites. As your cat grows, keeping them on flea preventatives will reduce the risk of contracting the most common tapeworms in their environment: dipylidium caninum.

Monthly feline preventatives do not contain the medications needed to eliminate tapeworms in cats. However, regular veterinary visits with fecal analysis can catch tapeworm infections.

Keeping Your Cat Safe From Tapeworms

Were all relatively familiar with the most common insects, mites, and other pests our cats might encounter. Fleas and ticks are always at the top of the list, but what about the pests that carry other pests? Did you know that one critter can be infested with another critter that can then infest your cat? Were talking about tapeworms nasty parasites that hitch a ride with fleas. With a little education and guidance, keeping your cat safe from tapeworms is easy.

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Are Worms Painful For Cats

Worms in cats can potentially cause pain. The migration of larvae through the liver, stomach, eye, or lungs would cause discomfort as the affected tissues become inflamed from the disruption.

This could present as:

  • Belly pain, including gastritis due to inflammation of the stomach lining

  • Eye irritation

  • A change in your cats breathing rate/pattern

The accumulation of fluid from protein loss can cause a distended abdomen in some animals, which can be uncomfortable due to the swelling of the abdominal muscles and skin.

It can also cause breathing issues if too much abdominal fluid is pressing on the diaphragm and restricting the normal lung capacity for proper breathing.

Yes, humans can contract worm infections from cats by coming into direct contact with contaminated feces or soil.

Common modes of transmission include:

  • Children playing in sandboxes where cats have defecated

  • Walking barefoot through contaminated soil

  • Gardening in soil without wearing gloves

Accidental ingestion of contaminated soil or feces can happen in humans as well, so good hygiene practices are vital for preventing transmission from cat to owner.

Is There More Than One Type Of Tapeworm

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There are two types of tapeworm. The most common, and the one discussed throughout this article, is known scientifically as dipylidium caninum, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .

The other type which is far more dangerous and far more rare is called Echinococcus. According to the CDC, cystic echinococcosis is caused by infection with the larval stage of a tapeworm called hydatid worm, or Echinococcus granulosus, which is found in dogs, sheep, cattle, goats, and pigs.

“Although most infections in humans are asymptomatic, CE causes harmful, slowly enlarging cysts in the liver, lungs, and other organs that often grow unnoticed and neglected for years,” the CDC reports.

Another type of tapeworm is called Echinococcus multilocularis, and can cause a disease called Alveolar echinococcosis . This tapeworm is found in foxes, coyotes, dogs, cats, and small rodents. Human cases are rare but very seriouscausing parasitic tumors that can form in the liver, lungs, brain, and other organs. AE can be fatal if it isn’t treated, according to the CDC. But that, thankfully, is rare. In fact, a study published by the PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases found only forty-one echinococcosis-related deaths in the United States between 1990 and 2007.

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Tapeworms In Cats: Causes Symptoms & Treatment

Our cats live closely with our families every day. Keeping them healthy and parasite free is extremely important. Intestinal parasites can occur in any age cat, and several types of intestinal worms infect our housecats.

Parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms cause weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Common tapeworms are a pesky example, and require specific treatment and prevention.

Tapeworms come in several varieties, with different species prevalent in certain environments. All tapeworms go through a life cycle that requires a host in order to mature and infect other animals. The tapeworms move from the egg form, or proglottid, through the larvae form, into an infectious form in the host. Eliminating the host can prevent reinfection for our pets.

How Is My Cat Dewormed

After your veterinarian has identified and diagnosed your cat with worms, they will have a proper treatment plan according to the type of worms your cat has been diagnosed with. Your cat will be prescribed a dewormer medication that might be a small pill, liquid, injection, or topical medicine to be administered.

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What To Do If Your Cat Has A Flea Disease

If you suspect your cat has picked up a disease carried by fleas, schedule an appointment with your vet to develop a treatment plan.

Of course, if your cat has a flea disease, odds are that your cat is suffering from a flea infestation. Treat your cat and any other pets for fleas. With severe flea infestations, the home and surrounding outdoor areas should be treated for fleas along with your cat, to eradicate all flea life stages and break the flea life cycle.

Diagnosing A Cat With Tapeworms

Tapeworms in a Cat

Veterinarians will perform a fecal flotation test. If tapeworms are present, the eggs will float in the testing solution. However, fecal flotation tests frequently have false negatives.

Pet parents should definitely let their vets know if they notice signs of tapeworm at home, because this is often the only way vets diagnose them.

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Prognosis For Cats With Tapeworms

When treated early and correctly, the prognosis for cats with tapeworms is good. With proper care, you can permanently eradicate tapeworms. Extra precautions are necessary if your cat is recovering from fleas and tapeworm at the same time. You will need to thoroughly wash all of your cat’s toys and bedding and change your cat’s litter daily.

The Trouble With Tapeworms

Tapeworms are a common problem. The infection can be caught from multiple areas and environments however, some conditions make them more likely to be transmitted.

What is a tapeworm?

They are long, flat worms that live in your pets intestines. Most species can be infected and the larvae are often ingested by dogs while they groom, or from the soil or grass. They travel to the intestine where they attach to the mucous lining, using their strong mouthpieces, and grow into adults. They can grow up to 8 inches in length and, when mature, produce proglottids which grow from the end of the worm. Tapeworms are made from lots of segments, all of which have their own reproductive parts allowing their numbers to multiply rapidly as they constantly reproduce. These segments become gravid and are passed in the pets faeces, where they burst releasing tapeworm eggs onto the grass or material beneath them. These eggs are ingested by an intermediate host , which is then eaten by your pets. The eggs are released and hatch into tiny tapeworm heads, which mature into adult worms inside your pet over 2 months or so.

Is my pet likely to get tapeworm?

What are the symptoms of tapeworm?

If any symptoms are seen, please call or visit the practice for more specific information on treatment and we can help return your pet to normal health as soon as possible!

Unfortunately, lots of animals show no symptoms.

Can I catch tapeworm from my pet?

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Is There A Cure For Tapeworms In Cats

Yes. Tapeworms in cats can be cured with deworming medications like epsiprantel, praziquantel, and fenbendazole. While these medications will eliminate tapeworms from your cats intestinal tract, they do not guarantee protection from reinfection, which is why its important to treat any underlying cause, such as a flea infestation, and follow good hygiene practices when cleaning the litter box.

Indoor Cats Get Fleas From Chasing A Flea Infested Mouse

Fleas &  Worms

Chasing an infected mouse is one of the most common ways indoor cats become infected with fleas.

Mice are rodents that, as a result of their environment and food, carry a range of fleas and diseases.

An indoor cat may easily get fleas by pursuing an infested mouse or other ill animals.

Mice frequently enter our home, and weve witnessed indoor cats chasing mice on a daily basis.

An indoor cat can get fleas by crossing the path or nest of a flea-infested mouse.

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Summary Of Tapeworms In Cats

Tapeworms in cats are common intestinal parasites that often cause diarrhea. Infections can range from mild to potentially life-threatening, but are easily cured with medication. Deworming kittens during early wellness visits reduces their chances of contracting tapeworms, and regular veterinary visits throughout your cats life will further reduce the risk of contracting parasites and other diseases.

What Kind Of Worms Do Fleas Cause In Cats

The most common tapeworms that infect cats worldwide are Dipylidium caninum and Taenia taeniaeformis. Dipylidium caninum is transmitted to cats by fleas. The immature fleas larvae ingest the eggs of the worm, but infection is then passed on to a cat when it swallows an infected flea during grooming.

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Treatment Of Worms Fleas And Parasites

Internal ParasitesThe American Society of Veterinary Parasitologists states that greater than 90% of kittens are born with worms. While a queen is pregnant, the larvae migrates to the queens breasts. When the kitten nurses from the queen, larvae are acquired in the milk. This is the most common way that kittens acquire worms.The American Society of Veterinary Parasitologists recommends that all kittens be dewormed four times at two week intervals. This is a simple and highly effective method of ridding your cat of the most common type of worms in NY, hookworms and roundworms. You administer a liquid or tablets to your cat. The medication is very safe and very effective.

Tapeworms are another common form of worm that affects cats. Tapeworms are acquired when cats ingest infected fleas. The flea hosts the immature stage of the tapeworm. Upon ingesting the flea, the immature stage of the tapeworm grows and develops into a tapeworm in the cats intestine. Treatment for tapeworms should be commenced only after the cat has been checked and found to be flea free. The medication is very safe and effective. Two doses are given two to three weeks apart.

The last parasite to be discussed is probably one of the most common ones, ear mites. Ear mites are transmitted by contact with other cats . So if your cat is diagnosed with ear mites please be certain to have your other cats checked to insure that they are not also infected.

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How Do Cats Get Tapeworms

Tapeworm Infection from Pets (Dipylidiasis) Transmission, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

First, a tapeworm egg must be ingested by a flea larva, an immature stage of the flea. Once inside the larval flea, the tapeworm egg continues to develop as the larval flea matures into an adult flea.

During grooming, or in response to a flea bite, the cat inadvertently swallows the flea. As the flea is digested within the cat’s intestine, the tapeworm egg is released, it hatches, and then anchors itself to the intestinal lining, therefore completing the lifecycle. Unlike other intestinal parasites, cats cannot become infected by eating tapeworm eggs. Tapeworms must first pass through the flea before they can infect the cat.

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How Will You Know If Your Cat Is Infected

Most tapeworm infections in cats are asymptomatic, meaning that many cats dont show any signs.

Tapeworm infections in pets are usually asymptomatic, meaning your cat may not show any signs. In severe cases, you might see vomiting or diarrhea, or in chronic cases, weight loss.

These occur because the tapeworms mouth attaches to the wall of the cats small intestine and feeds there for weeks to months. If there are multiple adult tapeworms, an intestinal obstruction, or blockage, can occur and can be life-threatening.

Cleaning Your Environment To Make It A Flea

As Herold points out, removing fleas from your pets body is just the beginning.

Since fleas spend much of their life off your pet, just treating your furry friend will not make the problem go away, the American Veterinary Medical Association notes.

Your pet can become re-infested when fleas that are breeding in your home become adults and latch on to your animal. The AVMA recommends thoroughly cleaning your pets sleeping area and vacuuming the floors and furniture that your animal frequents. Cleaning and vacuuming these areas will help remove and kill fleas in all stages of life, the AVMA says.

If you can repeatedly get rid of eggs in carpeting, you then have to get rid of the vacuum bag that must leave your house, Herold says.

Getting rid of fleas in your home can be a time-consuming hassle, so patience and persistence are key to success.

Most strategies take time, Herold says. You wont get rid of fleas in a single day. You could bomb your house and still not get rid of all the fleas.

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Is It Contagious To Humans

Tapeworms are zoonotic, meaning humans can get them from animals, but contracting tapeworms requires ingestion of a flea or consumption of the eggs from the feces. This is rare but not impossible if good hygiene is not practiced.

  • What do tapeworms look like?
  • How did my cat get tapeworms?

    If your cat has the most common strain of tapeworm, dipylidium caninum,it is because they have eaten a flea. Your cat can also get tapeworm from eating small rodents.

  • Are tapeworms curable?

    Tapeworms in cats are curable. With proper treatment, they can be rid entirely of the cat’s digestive system. Consult with your vet for the right treatment plan for your cat.

How Does Guinea Worm Affect Dogs

Diseases Cats Can Catch From Fleas

Currently, Guinea worm disease is considered a zoonosis, with dogs being the main reservoir, reaching high rates of infection, thus jeopardizing its eradication. An alternative route of foodborne parasite transmission has been suggested for dogs by means of the ingestion of infected frogs and/or fish.

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Tapeworm Symptoms In Cats

Most cats do not show signs of illness from tapeworm infections. Cats who have heavy flea infestations are more likely to end up with large amounts of tapeworms in their intestines, and there is potential for these patients to experience the following signs of tapeworms in cats:

  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite

Rarely, a condition called Haws syndrome may be associated with heavy tapeworm presence in cats and cause prolapse in the third eyelids . This syndrome can occur in severely dehydrated cats, but has also been associated with significant disease of the stomach and intestines due to parasites , inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal cancer and viral enteritis. However, the absence of Haws syndrome does not rule out intestinal parasite infection or other intestinal disease.

What makes it so difficult to diagnose tapeworms in cats is that kitties are very fastidious groomers. Cats can clean the evidence from their backsides and bury their stool in the litterbox before anyone gets a chance to see the evidence of infection. And fecal flotations performed by your veterinarian can also come up short when trying to detect tapeworm infection due to the intermittent shedding of the egg-containing segments.

If your veterinarian finds fleas or even just the feces of fleas on your cat, they will likely recommend deworming for tapeworms due to the high risk of an existing infection.

Preventing Tapeworms In Your Cat

The most effective way to help prevent tapeworms in cats is through flea control. As with most common parasites, prevention is always better than trying to treat an infestation once it occurs, requiring treatment of not only an ectoparasite the flea but an endoparasite the tapeworm. This is why flea preventatives are recommended year-round, preventing fleas from making their way onto your cat or into their environment and bringing tapeworms with them.

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How Do Dogs And Cats Get Tapeworms

The lifecycle of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum, includes the primary host which is the dog or cat, and the intermediate host which is the flea. Owners often ask if they can get tapeworms from their pet and the answer is only if they ingest or eat fleas!

When dogs or cats swallow a flea that is carrying a larval tapeworm during normal grooming, the body of the flea is digested away, releasing a tiny tapeworm. This tiny tapeworm then attaches itself to its hosts intestine and grows into an adult or mature tapeworm.

The tapeworm is made up of segments. The segments at the tail end, which is a sac of tapeworm eggs, will drop off to be passed in the stool. These eggs are eventually eaten by the immature flea larva. Once the flea larva becomes an adult flea it can infect its host when the host eats or ingests the flea.

The Taenia type of tapeworm infects dogs and cats when they eat raw meat such as catching and eating mice, rabbits, and other small mammals or when owners feed their pets a raw diet.

For more information on feeding your pets a raw diet, check out these links:

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