Dipylidium caninum is a common tapeworm of dogs, which can also frequently infect cats. It is zoonotic.
|Parasite species: Dipylidium caninum|
|Common name: Flea tapeworm|
|Hosts: Wild and domestic canids, but also cats|
|Pre-patent period: 2-4 weeks|
|Location in the host: Small intestine|
|Transmission route: Ingestion of infected fleas and lice |
Dipylidium caninum infections are well tolerated by cats. When present in large numbers, D. caninum can cause constipation or diarrhoea, and cats may present an unthrifty, pot-bellied appearance.
Dipylidium caninum infection in cats can be confirmed by detecting characteristic, double pored segments or proglottids (creamy white, cucumber seed shape, approximately 10-12 mm in length) in the faeces or in the perianal area (Fig. 1). Large egg packets (containing eggs approximately 25-40 μm x 30-45 μm) (Fig. 2) may also be detected by standard faecal flotation (SOP 1), but this method presents very low sensitivity and it is therefore not recommended .
For anthelmintic treatment options refer to Table 1.
The control of D. caninum can be achieved by treating infected cats at 2 to 4-week intervals and using registered insecticides to keep them free of fleas and lice.
Dipylidium caninum may infect humans, especially children. Most infected patients are asymptomatic, but nocturnal irritability, anorexia and weight loss may occur in infected people.
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 Bowman DD, Hendrix CM, Lindsay DS, Barr SC. Feline Clinical Parasitology. Iowa State University Press, Ames, USA. 2002.
 Taton-Allen G, Cheney J. Gastrointestinal parasites. In: Lappin M (ed) Feline internal medicine secrets. Philadelphia, Hanley & Belfus, 2001; p. 85-95.