Warning: Fleas May Carry And Transmit Tapeworms!

A flea infestations on a pet is more than just a nuisance; it’s a serious threat to their health and well-being.

It’s a little-known fact that fleas are capable of transmitting tapeworms to dogs, cats and other mammal. If a flea carrying a tapeworm happens to infest your pet, it could send the parasite into their bloodstream where it begins to wreck havoc on their digestive system.

What Are Tapeworms?


Tapeworm under a microscope: photo by Kaptain Kobald.

Tapeworms are long, slender parasites that live in the small intestines of a host. They can range from less than an inch long to several feet. Regardless of their size, however, tapeworms are dangerous parasites that pet owners need to watch out for.

The most common tapeworm found in canines is Dipylidium caninum. Once they make their way into a dog’s digestive tract, they will consume a portion of its moisture and nutrients. As long as the dog continues to eat food and drink water, the tapeworm will grow and thrive in its new environment.

Signs That Your Dog Is Suffering From Tapeworms

  • Frequently scratching their bottom on the ground or floor.
  • Chewing around anus.
  • Small rice-sized specks present in their fecal matter.

Note: you should have a professional veterinarian perform a fecal test to determine whether or not your dog is suffering from tapeworms.

How Fleas Transmit Tapeworms

If you need another reason to keep fleas away from your home, here’s one: they are known to carry and transmit common species of tapeworms. The good news is that tapeworms aren’t transmittable through fleabites. The bad news is that your dog or cat may still pick them up from eating the flea.

Fleas can only transmit tapeworms to a pet if the pet happens to eat the flea.

When a flea bites down into the flesh of a host, it typically triggers an allergic response in the form of itching, redness and loss of fur. Dogs and cats suffering from flea allergy dermatitis may gnaw and scratch the affected area to alleviate the intense itching sensation. During this time, however, the dog may accidentally consume the flea, leaving them vulnerable to tapeworms.

Fleas can transmit tapeworms to humans too!

Dogs and cats aren’t the only ones susceptible to tapeworms carried by fleas. The truth is that any mammal — including us humans — can catch tapeworms. If a person happens to swallow a flea carrying a tapeworm while they are sleeping (happens more often than you may realize), they could catch the parasite.