Dogs & Pinworms

By Karen Holcomb

Pinworms and tapeworms are often confused. Pinworms live in the human intestines, commonly those of children. Dogs do not get pinworms. However, dogs and children can have tapeworms. Tapeworms are transmitted to humans and dogs by way of fleas. They are easily treated in both canines and kids.

Pinworms

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, pinworms are common in children, highly contagious and easily spread to other children. Symptoms include frequent scratching of the anal area, restlessness and inability to sleep at night. The itchiness results from the female pinworm exiting the anus at night to lay eggs. The worms can be seen on the child's anus at night or in the child's stool. Pinworms are white and less than 1/2 inch long.

Transmission

Pinworms are spread to others when a child scratches his bottom and eggs are deposited under the fingernails. Their fingers touch another child's fingers, and if they wind up in the child's mouth, the tapeworm is transferred to a new host. Pinworms are easily treated with a drug called mebendazole. Frequent hand washing is the best defense, especially after using the restroom and before meals, according to the AAFP.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms live in the intestines of dogs. There are many types of tapeworms, but the most common is transmitted when a dog swallows a flea that contains tapeworm eggs, according to the 2010 Dog Health Guide. The dog may be biting in response to itchiness caused by the flea, resulting in digestion of the flea.

Symptoms

Tapeworms are not dangerous to dogs, but they can be uncomfortable for it. A dog who slides across the floor on his anus, for example, may be doing so in response to tapeworms. The tapeworms attach themselves to a dog's small intestine. They can grow to be 8 inches to 2 feet long. You can tell if your dog has tapeworms by examining its stool. The worms' 1/8-inch segments, which resemble dry rice or cucumber seeds, are visible to the naked eye. Treating the dog with praziquantel dissolves tapeworms in the intestine.

Tapeworms in Humans

Children can get tapeworms if they, too, swallow fleas. This can occur while playing with a dog or in a sandbox. Some children with tapeworms suffer from no symptoms. Others have an itchy anus. The drug niclosamide can treat tapeworms in humans. Tapeworms only come from fleas and cannot be transmitted from human to human, according to the The Dog Health Guide.