Fleas play an essential role in the life cycle of the Dipylidium caninum tapeworm, otherwise known as the "flea tapeworm."
The adult D. caninum tapeworm lives
in an animal's small intestine. As the
worm continually grows, individual body
segments, each full of eggs, pass in the
animal's feces. As the segments dry, they
break open and release the eggs. Flea
larvae ingest the eggs, which then grow
into immature worms inside the fleas.
When your pet ingests a flea (usually while
grooming), the flea releases the tapeworm,
which then grows into an adult in your
pet's intestine, completing the life cycle.
The D. caninum tapeworm cannot pass
directly from cat to cat or dog to dog.
Further, an animal cannot become
infected simply by eating tapeworm eggs.
To prevent this detrimental life cycle,
treat your affected pet with a wormer
that kills tapeworms, and use a flea
and tick preventive. A non-prescription
wormer medication such as WormXPlus
(for dogs only) will
kill the tapeworms. Use the wormer
along with a proven flea and tick
preventive such as Drs. Foster & Smith Fiprotrol™ Plus Flea & Tick Control for Dogs. Continue with the flea and
tick preventive even after tapeworms
are gone to minimize your pet's risk of
becoming re-infected with tapeworms.