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The Doctor is IN – Tapeworm Trouble

Was that a tapeworm segment? If so, what should I do?

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Q: The other day I picked my cat up, then noticed something like a grain of rice on my shirt. And then I thought I saw it move! Eeeww!! Was that a tapeworm segment? If so, what should I do?—Icked Out in Ithaca

A: Intestinal parasites are a concern for both indoor and outdoor cats. Tapeworm segments look like small pieces of rice. Cats can develop tapeworm infections from ingesting fleas or from eating small rodents. The good news is that with a single “deworming” treatment from your veterinarian, the problem is treated. For a while. Outdoor cats should be treated once a year with a deworming medication. Flea control is also essential for outdoor cats, and a good idea for indoor cats as well (especially if other animals in your home spend time outdoors), if you want to minimize the chances of tapeworm infection. Some types of tapeworm can affect humans, so good hygiene around all pets is critical.—Dr. Ian Sandler, DVM

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