Routine tapeworm treatment for dogs

Author: VioVet
Published: Sunday 20th January 2013
Updated: Thursday 6th February 2020

Our customer asked:

I am in the process of ordering Advocate for my 18 month old lab which she has had since a pup, but I never realised she wasn't covered for tapeworm. Whilst looking for tapeworm tablets on your site it says not to feed your dog offal. Does this mean just on the day the tablets are given? Also it is not quite clear how often the medication must be used, please can you advise?

Our response:

There is not a simple answer to this question. Most dogs these days probably never come across a tapeworm, so do not need routine, regular treatment. If they do get a tapeworm, then usually you become aware of it, unlike other worms which normally remain completely hidden. (Tapeworm segments wriggle out of a dogs bottom and are seen crawling through the hair near the bottom. They are whitish in colour and look a bit like a large, flattened grain of rice.) Tapeworms are usually seen in dogs which scavenge rabbit carcases when out on walks, or in dogs fed on raw offal, hence the advice you have seen. Dogs can also pick up tapeworms from eating fleas or lice when grooming themselves, but this type of tapeworm is much less common now that flea treatments are so much more effective.

Any particular dose of tapeworm treatment will kill any tapes present at the time of dosing, but will have no on-going protective effect. Tapeworms are regarded as unpleasant but not dangerous, so it is not really a disaster if a dog does pick one up, though they do appear rather objectionable!

Personally I would probably just continue with Advocate (for fleas and other worms) and not bother with tapeworm treatment unless your dog is in a high risk group (eats potentially infected foods regularly). Some people will give a tapeworm dose once per year, or even once every 3 months as a precaution, and that is not wrong, but is usually not required. Droncit tablets are the usual choice where this is done. You can decide yourself if your dog warrants regular, precautionary treatment for tapeworms, or ask your vets what they think.