A couple of weeks ago, a reader commented on one of our posts about tapeworm with significant concern. She wrote that she has a toddler and they had a puppy but they had to get rid of the puppy because they could not treat it properly for tapeworm. When they were still trying to treat it, the puppy was staying on the porch. She is worried that her porch is now covered in tapeworm eggs and isn’t safe for her daughter to walk on. She wants to know how she can kill the eggs and make her porch safe. We are happy to provide some information to put our reader at ease!
Tapeworms are pretty common in dogs and cats, and pet owners often have their pets treated for tapeworm once or twice per year. A tapeworm consists of many small segments that are joined together to be up to a foot or more long. When an animal excretes a tapeworm, they are really excreting a tiny segment that come from a larger whole. These tiny segments look like wiggling rice. Tapeworms need moisture to survive, and they die shortly after they are excreted out of the body cavity.
We are very sorry that our reader had to give up her dog because she was unable to treat it for tapeworm. Unlike dogs, humans do not easily get infected with tapeworm. Humans usually only get tapeworm if they accidentally swallow a flea, and they should know right away because it causes abdominal pain. If the puppy was excreting tapeworm on the porch, they are definitely no longer alive. Even if they were, our reader’s daughter couldn’t get infected just by stepping on a tapeworm segment. She would have to consume a flea or a live tapeworm segment, which as we mentioned, is a really unlikely scenario, especially if the infected puppy hasn’t been around for a while.
However, if our reader is concerned that her daughter has been infected by tapeworm, we suggest that she take her to get checked out by a medical professional. To end, a concerned reader asked us about the likelihood of her daughter getting a tapeworm after they briefly owned a dog who had it. We do not think this is a likely scenario.