What is Fox Tapeworm Infection (Cysticercosis)?
Cysticercosis is a tissue infection caused by tapeworms. The fox tapeworm infection in dogs is caused by Echinococcus multilocularis, known as the tapeworm of the small fox. This tapeworm parasite has dogs, wolves, coyotes, and foxes as their host. This rare disease originating from the Taenia crassiceps larvae cultivates in the tissues of the abdomen and is originally found in feces of infected foxes. Once it is within the abdominal tissues of the dog it forms large cysts in the cavity of the abdomen, muscles, lungs, and tissue under the skin. It reproduces by way of asexual reproduction at a very high rate.
Any tapeworm that infects dogs has a lifecycle that is indirect. The direct host is where the tapeworm matures through reproduction and the production of eggs. The intermediate host is the host where the immature form of this parasite is developed. Then the direct host, or the definitive host, develops infection after eating the intermediate host. It is a complete cycle, as the intermediate host develops the infection by ingesting eggs which are in an environment contaminated by the definitive host. Since many dogs consume foods that are commercially compared rather than eating prey, this form of tapeworm infection is rare. However, there are other types of tapeworms that dogs can ingest, such as those that come from the ingestion of fleas.
Fox tapeworm infection (Cysticercosis) in dogs is an infection caused by the ingestion of the parasite known as Echinococcus multilocularis. The parasite lives within the tissues of the dogs, oftentimes causing severe illness.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Fox Tapeworm Infection (Cysticercosis) in Dogs
In the beginning, the dog may not show any symptoms. Once infestation has occurred and clusters have developed within the body tissues of the dog, symptoms include:
- Anemia (cause of weakness)
- Yellowing of the skin
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
Although Echinococcus multilocularis affects dogs, cats, and other animals it does not affect the following animals:
Causes of Fox Tapeworm Infection (Cysticercosis) in Dogs
The cause of this type of tapeworm infection is solely from the dog ingesting the eggs of the parasite. Once ingested, the tapeworm forms many cysts within the tissues and reproduce at a very fast rate. Though rare, it is a very serious infection.
Diagnosis of Fox Tapeworm Infection (Cysticercosis) in Dogs
If your dog appears to have symptoms of this tapeworm infection, an appointment with your veterinarian will be necessary. Once the veterinarian reviews the dog’s history of health, he will perform a complete examination. This will include blood work with a complete blood count, a biochemistry profile to test the functionality of the internal organs and electrolyte amounts, and urinalysis.
The veterinarian will choose imaging techniques so he can get a better look of the cysts that the parasites have formed. The veterinarian may also perform an ultrasound to be sure that the masses are not cancerous tumors. A definitive diagnosis can be made with a microscopic evaluation of any eggs found in the feces of the dog. These eggs, however, are extremely difficult to distinguish from one type of parasite to another.
Treatment of Fox Tapeworm Infection (Cysticercosis) in Dogs
Once diagnosed, there are two forms of treatment which proved to be effective. The treatments of fox tapeworm infection in dogs include:
The removal of the front or interior end of the tapeworms will be done by the veterinarian. These scolices are attached by hooks and suckers.
Anthelmintics are antiparasitic medications which stun and kill the internal parasites. This allows them to be expelled from the body and is not damage the dog, or the host. Other dewormers may also be chosen by the veterinarian depending on his preference for what would be most effective.
Recovery of Fox Tapeworm Infection (Cysticercosis) in Dogs
Once treated, the veterinarian will want to make regular checkups with your dog to be sure he has healed successfully. In terms of recovery management, once effectively treated the prognosis is good. With fox tapeworm infection in dogs, prevention is the key form of keeping your dog free of this type of tapeworm, as well as other parasites. As a loving and caring dog owner, it is important to keep a watchful eye over your dog including what he may ingest. If dogs are allowed to roam for the majority of their days, there is a greater chance of becoming infected with parasites, including Echinococcus Multilocularis. This is why it is important to keep your dog contained and monitor his diet.