Next to bed bugs, fleas could be considered the most annoying of all insects. Luckily, humans can usually avoid fleas by exercising proper hygiene, but fleas do commonly infest pets, most of which are dogs. Although fleas can cause serious discomfort to pets, as well as being responsible for the spread of deadly diseases among human populations, humans rarely contract flea-borne diseases these days. However, fleas still pose a threat to pets as they can cause dogs and cats to contract tapeworms. Tapeworms may be familiar to most people as those incredibly long worm-like creatures that live within mammalian digestive systems. Despite the prevalence of tapeworms in dogs and cats, many people are not aware of the connection between tapeworms and fleas.
Tapeworms belong to a large group of parasitic flatworms that are known as cestodes. These nasty creatures possess teeth which they use to latch onto a mammal’s intestinal wall. Tapeworm eggs travel through a mammal’s digestive system before they are eventually excreted with feces. If your dog or cat possesses fleas, then they could also develop tapeworms. This is because fleas may consume tapeworm eggs. In these cases the egg will develop within the fleas’ body until it reaches maturity. Infected fleas are often accidentally swallowed by pets during grooming. This is more common than it sounds, as brushing pets can easily strip fleas from the skin of dogs and cats. The infected flea is eventually digested, and the mature tapeworm is released, making the pet its new host. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell if a pet has contracted a tapeworm, as tapeworms do not cause any noticeable symptoms associated with illness. Most dogs and cats that are kept as pets are usually in good health, so a parasitic infection can go unnoticed. Tapeworm infections in pets are normally noticed after pet owners spot tapeworm eggs in their pet’s excrement or fur.
Have you ever owned a pet that had contracted a tapeworm from fleas?
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