Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Dipylidium caninum

Synonym(s): D. caninum

Contributor(s): Maggie Fisher, Grace Mulcahy




  • Class: Cestoda.
  • Family: Dilepididae.
  • Genus: Dipylidium.

Active Forms

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Resting Forms

This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Clinical Effects



  • Adult tapeworm in the small intestine of the cat, Canidae, and rarely children.
  • Segments and eggs in the environment, particularly in areas where the cat sleeps.
  • Metacestode (cysticercoid) in the body cavity of the flea, primarily Ctenocephalides felis, and chewing louse, Trichodectes canis.


D. caninum lifecycle

  • See also life cycle diagram Lifecycle: Dipylidium caninum - diagram :
    • Adult tapeworm.
    • Gravid proglottid.
    • Egg.
    • Cysticercoid.


Transmission to flea/louse

  • Segments migrate out of anus and around perianal area. Can be eaten by chewing lice in this area.
  • Segments fall to the ground, particularly where the cat spends time resting.
  • Flea eggs also fall off the cat to the ground in these areas  Lifecycle: Ctenocephalides canis - diagram .
  • Flea larvae attracted to eat segment as a source of protein.

Transmission to cat

  • Infected adult flea parasitizes cat.
  • Cat accidentally ingests the adult flea or louse containing a cysticercoid when grooming itself.
  • Some cats may show hypersensitivity to flea bites Flea bite hypersensitivity which will result in increased grooming and thus increase the likelihood of ingesting a flea.

Pathological effects

  • Not known.
  • Little protective immunity develops in the cat.
  • Some flea species, eg Ctenocephalides canis  Ctenocephalides canis, or at the least some strains of it, destroy most cysticercoids by a hemocyte (cellular) and humoral response.
  • No 'immunity' appears to develop in Ctenocephalides felis  Ctenocephalides felis.
  • The presence of 1 or many tapeworms, even several hundred, usually has little effect on the health of a well-fed cat.
  • Irritation of a segment spontaneously migrating from the anus can cause 'scooting'  Tapeworm: segments around perineum .
  • Cat infected with D. caninum will concurrently be infected with fleas or lice and is likely to show pruritus associated with the hypersensitivity response to the ectoparasites Flea bite hypersensitivity.
  • Large numbers of worms could reduce growth rates in young, poorly nourished cats - rare.
  • Very rarely, obstruction of the intestine from many hundreds of worms can occur.


Control via animal

This will only be effective if fleas are also removed from the environment.

Control via chemotherapies

Either Praziquantel Praziquantel.
Or Dichlorophen Dichlorophen.

The benzimidazoles are not very effective against D. caninum even though they are effective against Taenia spp tapeworms.

Control via environment

Regular vacuuming and washing of cats' bedding is also helpful.


This article is available in full to registered subscribers

Sign up now to purchase a 30 day trial, or Login

Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Boreham R E & Boreham P F L (1990) Dipylidium caninum: life cycle, epizootiology, and control. Comp Cont Educ Pract Vet 12 (5), 667-675 VetMedResource.