How Do I Choose the Best Tapeworm Treatment?

Veterinarians can recommend and administer tapeworm treatment.
Licorice root is used as an herbal treatment for tapeworms.
Tapeworm treatment is generally easy, and can be administered via pill or injection.
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  • Written By: Dakota Davis
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2014
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A tapeworm is a parasite that takes up residence in a host's intestines. It is usually transmitted through contaminated food or water, through feces, or through an infected host, most commonly a flea. While tapeworm infections are frequent amongst dogs and cats, humans can be infected on rare occasions, particularly while traveling in areas with poor sanitary conditions. Tapeworm treatment involves medication for both humans and for pets.

Tapeworms are long and flat like ribbons, and are made up of segments called proglottids, which contain the worm's eggs. Over time, the proglottids break off and are eliminated from the body. These segments may be visible in the both animal and human feces.

In humans, tapeworm treatment involves an oral dose of medication that contains either praziquantel, sold as Biltricide, or albendazole, sold as Albenza. Both are available by prescription from your doctor. The tapeworm treatment selected is based on the species and the site of infection. In some countries, niclosamide may be administered, but it is not available in the United States.

Tapeworm treatment works by attacking the worm's own defenses. The tapeworm will be dissolved in the intestine, where it is digested. Your doctor will follow up to make sure the infection has been effectively eliminated by taking a stool sample one to three months after your treatment has been completed.

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Infrequently, tapeworms will move outside the intestines. When this happens, they can form dangerous cysts in the organs. Anti-inflammatory steroids may be used to prevent cysts from forming, although surgery may be needed to remove existing cysts.

Natural remedies have proven to be very effective in preventing worms in the intestines. Occasional use of herbs like licorice root, agrimony, marshmallow, and wormwood may balance the immune system and prevent parasites. Homeopathic ingredients like Chamomilla and Cina also help to keep the intestinal system functioning smoothly. Medical tapeworm treatment should be administered if infection occurs, however.

Tapeworm treatment in pets is easy and also involves praziquantel, available at a veterinarian's office without a prescription. Your vet may ask you to bring your pet in since proper dosage is based on weight. This drug is available as a pill or as an injection for pets, and while both are effective, recent studies show that oral medication has a higher efficacy rate than the injected dose. While medication will eliminate the existing problem, the cause of the problem must also be addressed or your pet may become re-infested.

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Discuss this Article

starrynight
Post 14

I had no idea a tapeworm could travel outside of the intestine! I guess that's one more good reason to get prompt treatment for a tapeworm. I imagine the faster you treat it, the less likely it would be move outside of your intestine. Imagine having to have surgery for a tapeworm!

I guess tapeworms can travel outside of the intestine in cats and dogs too. I'm glad I do preventative cat tapeworms treatment for my cat! And if I didn't already, I would definitely start after reading this article!

JessicaLynn
Post 13

@indemnifyme - I would probably try a natural remedy for tapeworms treatment first, then go to the doctor. I think prevention is best though, and I'm glad to know that natural remedies have been proven to help prevent tapeworms.

I have to admit, the whole idea of having a tapeworm freaks me out. Actually, the idea of having any kind of parasite is kind of creepy! I'm glad to know that when you receive treatment for a tapeworm, it dissolves in your intestine. I know they get very long, and it would be really, really disgusting to have to expel a whole tapeworm from your body.

indemnifyme
Post 12

Usually I'm a big fan of natural remedies, but I think for some things you should just go to the doctor instead of trying to treat yourself. I feel like tapeworms in humans are one of the things you should just go to a regular doctor for.

From what I understand, having a tapeworm can be pretty harmful because it takes your nutrients. Yes, you will lose weight, but you'll be very ill because you're not getting any nutrition from your food!

Usually natural remedies take a bit longer to work than conventional remedies, and I think a tapeworm should be cured as quickly as possible!

wavy58
Post 11

Tapeworms in humans can cause weight loss. My cousin got a tapeworm infection from drinking contaminated pond water, and she began to lose weight with no explanation.

She did feel nauseated and weak, probably because the tapeworm was stealing her nutrients from her food. She was already pretty skinny before this happened, so she went to her doctor to find out why she was shedding so many pounds.

The doctor suspected tapeworms, and he took a stool sample. He also applied a piece of adhesive tape to her anus to remove a sample, because he said that eggs were likely to be lurking there.

Once he determined that she had the infection, the treatment was pretty simple. She got some praziquantel that cleared it up, and she was putting her weight back on in no time.

orangey03
Post 10

@OeKc05 - Since you live out in the country, your dog’s tapeworm infestation might be caused by her eating dead animals. I also live near a big field, and my dogs roam outside all the time. They usually come home with a rotting carcass of some kind or bones still covered in a bit of flesh.

My vet told me that a diet like this can cause a dog to develop tapeworms. Like you, I keep their flea population down, but still, they get tapeworms from time to time.

Even if you don’t see your dog eating dead animals, she could be doing it when you’re not home. This is a very likely cause of her problem.

You can get a monthly pill from your vet that will prevent tapeworms. It is a little on the costly side, but it works.

OeKc05
Post 9

I have always heard that fleas cause tapeworms in dogs. So, I have been keeping on a strict schedule with my dog’s monthly flea and tick treatment. However, now and then, she still ends up with tapeworms!

This puzzles me, because even though we live out in the country by the woods and a pasture, her flea control has been strong enough to keep them off of her. I just don’t know how she is getting them.

Does anyone know what could be causing my dog to become infected with tapeworms? Treatment is easy enough, but I would much prefer prevention.

Oceana
Post 8

I have a word of advice for anyone who needs to buy tapeworm medicine for your dog. Don’t get the cheap kind available in the pet section of department stores. I tried this, and it didn’t work at all.

My dog is like a magnet for tapeworm infestations. I had been treating her with a preventive medicine from the same department store, but obviously, it didn’t work either.

I was just trying to save a few bucks, but I ended up spending even more. If I had just gone to the vet in the first place, I wouldn’t have been out the money I had wasted on the cheap stuff.

John57
Post 7
When my dog had tapeworm, I wanted to try a natural remedy before giving her some medication. I had it narrowed down to garlic or wormwood.

Since I didn't know how I was going to get garlic down my dog, I decided to use the wormwood. I thought it was kind of funny that you would use something called wormwood to get rid of worms. I had good results with this tapeworm treatment for my dog. Now I try to prevent this from happening in the first place.

If we are going to be going outside in a wooded area I like to make my own flea collar for her. I don't like the commercial flea collars with all the chemicals in them.

I wrap a scarf around her neck that has been soaked in essential oils of citronella and lemon. When we get home, I also give her a bath and make sure I vacuum on a regular basis to keep the fleas away.

golf07
Post 6

Parasites in humans are often not as common as they are in animals, but infants and children seem to be affected more often than adults.

I don't know if this is something that is contagious or not, but when my kids were in daycare, there seemed to be an outbreak of it.

They were in a home daycare where they had a dog and a cat. I think the kids were getting this from playing in the sandbox outside.

If the cat was using the sandbox as a litter box, this make sense how so many of them could get tapeworm.

My kids were prescribed a chewable tablet. This didn't taste very good and I had a hard time getting them to take them, but at least we were able to get rid of the tapeworms.

I also found a different daycare for them, and haven't had any problems since then.

LisaLou
Post 5
I was traveling out of the country for a few weeks on a missions trip. I thought I was taking all the necessary precautions to keep me healthy. When you are in unsanitary conditions, sometimes you don't have much control.

When I got back home I started having stomach cramps and diarrhea. I thought it was either from some water I drank or something I ate.

I had no idea the doctor would tell me I had tapeworm. It is really kind of gross when you think about it. He prescribed some biltricide for my treatment for tapeworm.

This worked pretty quickly, but I still had to go back for 3 months on a regular basis to make sure all of the tapeworms were gone.

myharley
Post 4

My cat is an indoor/outdoor cat that would go crazy if she wasn't able to roam around outside in nice weather.

For many years I never had any trouble with fleas, but I noticed some worms in her stool and thought I better have the vet check it out. If you have never seen them, they look like little grains of rice.

She did have tapeworm and he gave her some Drontal medication to clear it up. This was just 2 doses spread about 2 weeks apart. If you have tapeworm in your cat, treatment is usually pretty fast and effective.

After that I started her on some flea prevention medicine to help prevent this from happening again. My vet told me that most cats will have some kind of parasitic infection at some point in their lives.

Thankfully this is an easy thing to treat, and hopefully I can prevent it from happening again.

ddljohn
Post 3

@turkay1-- I've never heard of that before!

I have heard however that eating lots of garlic or jaggery for a couple of days, or even pineapple helps kill tapeworms, although I haven't tried them.

I don't like giving my kids medications, they usually have a lot of side effects. My oldest son had tapeworms when he was six. I don't know how he got them but must have put something in his mouth while playing outside.

I took him to a homeopathic doctor at that time. He was given an extremely low dose of Cuprum Ocydatum for a week. It took care of the tapeworm problem entirely.

I think both allopathy and homeopathy treatments for tapeworms work equally well. It's more of a personal preference in my view.

candyquilt
Post 2

I heard the craziest home remedy for tapeworms. It was actually something that my instructor mentioned in biology class. He said that we can get rid of tapeworms by taking a bath and filling the bath water with milk or sugar. Apparently, the tapeworms leave the body (!) to eat at these while in the bath!

I find this pretty horrendous and can't imagine trying such a remedy. But I guess if someone doesn't have access to medication, it could be worth a shot.

Has anyone tried anything like this as a treatment of tapeworm?

turquoise
Post 1
My dog had tapeworms recently. I saw what looked like a little worm in her feces and took her to the doctor immediately. He said that it was probably the tapeworms' proglottids that I saw, because tapeworms are really long and they don't come out like that.

Anyway, he gave her a dose of medication first for treatment of tapeworms. Afterward, he took another sample of feces and saw that they were still there. These tapeworms can be pretty stubborn. My dog was clear of them after 3 doses of medication and it took close to a month.

I'm not supposed to let her near other dogs or their feces now. It turns out that tapeworm infection can even happen with fleas. Fleas sometimes feed on the tapeworm eggs and can infect a dog with tapeworms. So I'm not letting my dog out of our own yard and regularly checking her for fleas. I don't want her to get reinfected.

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