Do Tapeworms Cause Itchy Rears?

I recently adopted an eight pound nutered Maltese. He was covered in fleas and recently even though he is now flealess, he has begun licking...


I recently adopted an eight pound nutered Maltese. He
was covered in fleas and recently even though he
is now flealess, he has begun licking his rear.
Suspecting tape worms, I took him to the vet
Saturday and he was injected with 56.8mg/ml
Droncit. There were no problems with the
injection however it’s now been over 24 hours and
he continues to lick his but. The vet told me
sometimes the shot has to be repeated, how long
should I wait before I decide if he needs another
shot and when should I see a stop in the licking?

Winchester, CA

Pets don’t have fingers. Therefore, they use their tongues and toes to scratch. When a pet licks any area of its body excessively, I take it as a sign that the area itches or tingles.

Two issues commonly cause pets to lick their rear ends in seemingly excessive manners.

Fleas are by far the most common cause of rear end licking in cats and dogs. Flea bites may stimulate pets’ immune systems. In the same way that pollen causes some peoples’ eyes to itch, flea bites cause many pets’ rear ends to itch. For some pets, a single flea bite may cause severe irritation on the back near the tail.

Impacted or irritated anal glands also may cause licking near the tail. The glands, located (as the name implies) adjacent to the anus, produce a foul smelling fluid that usually is deposited on feces. Any irregularity with the anal glands can cause pets to scoot their hind ends along the ground or lick their rears.

Less commonly, allergies to pollen, food, or any number of environmental agents and chemicals also may cause irritation of the skin near the hind end. In my experience, it is not common for tapeworms to cause excessive rear end licking.

Based upon what you have written, it is most likely that fleas are causing your dog’s behavior. I recommend a high quality flea preventative. The itching may persist for several weeks after your dog is free of fleas, because your dog’s immune system may react to the flea bites for quite some time after the fleas are gone.

Conveniently, eliminating fleas also will reduce the risk of tapeworms in your dog. The most common type of tapeworm is spread by fleas.

Photo: Maggie May’s rear end looks fine.

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