If you have pets, fleas can be a big nuisance and a disgusting pest that come with pet ownership. However, you might be surprised to know that fleas can bring along a second unwanted nasty creature with them. If your pet has fleas, they might also have tapeworms. Here is how these two pests go hand-in-hand and what you can do about both of them.
How Pets Get Tapeworms
The leading cause for pets to get tapeworms is via fleas. Fleas that land on your pet can carry tapeworm embryos in their bodies, which doesn't harm the flea. If your pet licks or bites itself and swallows the flea, that embryo will then begin to grow inside your pet's body.
From there, the tapeworms will mature and thrive, reproducing further in your pet's stomach. These disgusting pests may emerge from your pet's anus or emerge in their fecal matter, which isn't pleasant for pets or their owners.
What Tapeworms Do
Tapeworms are a parasite that steal your pet's resources to survive. When your pet eats, part or all of the food they consume is absorbed by the tapeworm, instead of going through your pet's digestive system. As a result, cats and dogs can end up losing weight and may become weak since they don't absorb the nutrients and vitamins they need in order to thrive.
Tapeworms and fleas can also double team to make your pet extremely anemic. With fleas biting and draining your pet's blood, anemia can occur. However, with a tapeworm infestation, anemia is almost guaranteed because your pet won't be able to absorb adequate quantities of iron and protein to create new red blood cells.
Getting Rid of Fleas and Tapeworms
If you suspect that your pet has fleas, tapeworms, or both, it's imperative that you get a veterinarian's help. Even just one infected flea can potentially infect your pet with tapeworms, so choosing an anti-flea regimen that will keep fleas away permanently is the only way to protect your pet.
Thankfully, veterinarians have access to easy medications that can kill tapeworms and fleas easily. Depending on your pet's species, your vet will be able to supply either an oral or topical medication that can kill and repel fleas and kill off any tapeworms.
Fleas are gross, but tapeworms are even worse. If your pet has fleas, it puts them at risk for a lot of potential health problems, so never skip anti-flea treatments. If your pet is showing any of the aforementioned symptoms of tapeworm infestation, get to a vet right away.