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These objects have been showing up in 2 of my dogs' respective stools for months. The standard IDEXX fecal has come back negative numerous times. The vet keeps repeating that it's plant matter (it isn't), but can't even begin to surmise as to what type of plant would produce this. We initially thought it was something in their kibble, but after switching kibbles we realized that wasn't the case.

For over 2 months both dogs have been very lethargic and have low platelet counts. One of the dogs also has low cell counts across the board (red/white) and accompanying anemia whereas the other recently developed euthyroid sick syndrome (ESS) and has had an incredibly poor appetite. Both dogs have had some erratic breathing (three breaths in, 1 out), but the older dog, who had a full workup with the cardiologist, was given a glowing green light on his heart and lungs. Diarrhea occurs a couple days per month. These guys hike with me 1,000+ miles per year, swim in ponds/streams often, and as such encounter all the parasitic dangers that accompany that lifestyle (ticks, flukes, etc.). We also have 2 horses and live on a property adjacent to a dairy farm, so any farm-related health concerns apply as well.

Now I have no idea if this object in their stools is related or even if it is indeed a dead organism, but either way I would like to know what the heck it is. It comes out furled and unfurls flat'ish. It is bilaterally symmetrical with smooth edges and striated center; if you flip it over it looks the same. It is fairly hard. The best I can probably compare the consistency to is rawhide (no, they have never had rawhide or anything like it). I took the best photos I could without an appropriate macro lens. Can anyone help me definitively ID this object?
 

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**Not a definitive diagnosis** but to me it looks like tapeworm segments.

Some species can spend a period of their life cycle in rabbits, horses, cattle, sheep. If your dog has access to these areas, or their feces, it's a reasonably likely culprit. There are many species of tapeworm.
 

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I'd run a treatment for both whipworms and tapeworms (they are different). My GSD was adopted as a stray and had really bad whipworms- I think they look different than the photos but I never actually saw them. She'd just have horrible diarrhea, get lethargic, not eat, for a couple days. It was cyclic. The diarrhea was bloody- both fresh blood and digested blood, and the vet would run a fecal and it was negative. Finally, the fecal was positive and after treatment she never had the issue again.

It doesn't hurt to worm both dogs with treatments for all types of worms, that would be where I'd start.

I'd also run a full tick panel, if you are in an area with ticks, based on symptoms.

Sorry I can't ID. The vet can't either? Maybe switch vets or go to a teaching hospital?
 

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It's not the correct name, but a lot of farmers here call one that looks a lot like your pictures
"Zipperworm".

If you have access to a vet that also treats livestock, you may find someone who can more readily ID the segments.
 

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It does remind me of the seed pods to some weeds around here. They will curl up like that and send the seeds flying. I am not saying that is what that is, but it just looks similar. I'd have to look into what they actually are called, I can't recall right now.
 

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Just treat your dogs for tapes. One dose treatment. The fact that they curl and uncurl would lead to a parasite, not a weed or plant matter.
Sending off to Idexx waste of money. My dog had tapes and the vet was able to pick apart stool and viola...a diagnosis. No Charge.
 

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Can you make an appointment with state university vet school and take a sample of that bugger (and pics) to a parasitologist there? Or maybe have your vet send it to them for a remote consultation?


Alternatively, will your vet run dog through with 7-10 days of Panacur to see if it helps? (It's cheap and safe, so it's not going to hurt the dog.) Throw in a dose of Praziquantel for the tapes, just in case, and you'll cover all your bases. Tape segments that I've seen look like wiggling grains of rice in the poop -- not like this -- but there are so many species, maybe it's an uncommon one.


Weird parasites do strange stuff. We had a foster dog in our rescue who suddenly had rear end paralysis out of the blue, with other weird neuro symptoms. All signs pointed to meningitis...but that was negative. It was fast moving and progressively worse. All the standard tests were negative, and he was dying at the vet clinic. We were in a full-blown panic to try to save this wonderful dog from a mystery ailment. Our rescue's vet is brilliant and doesn't give up. At 2AM on a Saturday night, combing through literature and calling vet friends as far away as England for insight, she somehow figured out that a certain type of rat lung worms cause neuro symptoms in their final stage -- even though no clinical case of this kind of worm had ever been seen in a dog in our region, she found ONE human case nearby, a decade or more ago that at least told her these things do exist in our area. As a "hail Mary," she ordered the test and dosed the dog with Panacur while waiting for results. Within hours the dog was getting better -- by the time positive results came back, he was walking again. We knew it was going to be a positive test just by how the dog responded to the dewormer. She's now saved a half dozen dogs coming in on an emergency basis with what she learned in that dog -- even though it "looks like" meningitis from the symptoms, she knows to look for this dang emerging parasite. So, yeah, weird, rare worms can do some crazy stuff besides just causing diarrhea.


Whether that's a worm or a seed though, I have no idea! Please update us on whatever you find out!
 

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Magwart- I think there was an episode of "House" (maybe more) with worms causing all sorts of unusual symptoms. One episode with a massive tapeworm in a patient who couldn't feel pain. Some memorable scenes there.

Agree that if these were my dogs, the first thing I'd do is treat for worms of all kinds. From the sounds of things, there is some sort of free rider parasite living in these dog's guts that reproduces cyclically and is wreaking havoc on their health.
 

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If you are finding these segments attached to the dog's coat after defecating....I am going with tapeworm. A fecal will not show this particular worm as the segments contain the eggs. The worms bite onto the intestines and can cause a b12 deficiency, hence the anemia. Personally, if my vet didn't know what a tapeworm segment looked like, I would be looking for another vet. You can get the necessary dewormer, Praziquantel, over the counter. I think Bayer makes one. Word of caution, if you go to the feed store for such things, make sure it is just this one chemical. They have horse wormers that contain Ivermectin and Praziquantel, the Ivermectin dosage is way too much and can harm your dog.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'd run a treatment for both whipworms and tapeworms (they are different). My GSD was adopted as a stray and had really bad whipworms- I think they look different than the photos but I never actually saw them. She'd just have horrible diarrhea, get lethargic, not eat, for a couple days. It was cyclic. The diarrhea was bloody- both fresh blood and digested blood, and the vet would run a fecal and it was negative. Finally, the fecal was positive and after treatment she never had the issue again.

It doesn't hurt to worm both dogs with treatments for all types of worms, that would be where I'd start.

I'd also run a full tick panel, if you are in an area with ticks, based on symptoms.

Sorry I can't ID. The vet can't either? Maybe switch vets or go to a teaching hospital?

Both came up negative across the board on the IDEXX fever of unknown origin panel, which we ran only because their hiking buddy tested positive for Hepatozoon and Leishmania. (As an aside he does not have an active infection of either, but specialists and regular vets alike are baffled as to how there was DNA detected for either of these parasites in his blood at all.) They did both test positive for anaplasma (not the first time) and were on doxy for a month. One of the two has tested positive sporadically for Lyme, but he was treated w/ doxy either way. We live/hike in the worst tick region in the country (NW NJ / NE PA).


Just one more thing- have you tested for fungal diseases? They can be weird and hard to diagnose.

That has been on my mind for awhile, but the vet won't even consider it. She said they virtually never see fungal infections in this region and just looks at me like she is mentally rolling her eyes.


It's not the correct name, but a lot of farmers here call one that looks a lot like your pictures
"Zipperworm".

If you have access to a vet that also treats livestock, you may find someone who can more readily ID the segments.

Actually, we have a family friend that devotes half his practice time to this. We tend not to go to him because he considers all animals replaceable like a toaster, but he does have the livestock experience and he is a very intelligent guy. We'll drop a sample off with him and see what he says. Good call.


Can you make an appointment with state university vet school and take a sample of that bugger (and pics) to a parasitologist there? Or maybe have your vet send it to them for a remote consultation?


Alternatively, will your vet run dog through with 7-10 days of Panacur to see if it helps? (It's cheap and safe, so it's not going to hurt the dog.) Throw in a dose of Praziquantel for the tapes, just in case, and you'll cover all your bases. Tape segments that I've seen look like wiggling grains of rice in the poop -- not like this -- but there are so many species, maybe it's an uncommon one.

Yep, she actually just prescribed 7 days of Panacur for their hiking buddy because he's had GI issues for about 7 months and thus far, has no clinical explanation for his issues either. I mentioned flukes to her and she offered up the 7 days of Panacur, which I accepted. Maybe run the other 2 on it also.


I've seen lots of tapes and while they share some of the traits, they don't match any of the usual ones I've seen.



Agree that if these were my dogs, the first thing I'd do is treat for worms of all kinds. From the sounds of things, there is some sort of free rider parasite living in these dog's guts that reproduces cyclically and is wreaking havoc on their health.

That's what I have been thinking for months, but without clinical evidence these vets just keep repeating that the dogs are "fine."


If you are finding these segments attached to the dog's coat after defecating....I am going with tapeworm. A fecal will not show this particular worm as the segments contain the eggs. The worms bite onto the intestines and can cause a b12 deficiency, hence the anemia. Personally, if my vet didn't know what a tapeworm segment looked like, I would be looking for another vet. You can get the necessary dewormer, Praziquantel, over the counter. I think Bayer makes one. Word of caution, if you go to the feed store for such things, make sure it is just this one chemical. They have horse wormers that contain Ivermectin and Praziquantel, the Ivermectin dosage is way too much and can harm your dog.

No, no live segments at all in the stool or around the anus of either dog. That and the lack of striations along the edge of the object gave me pause on definitively calling these tapes. Is there is a type of tape that has those smooth edges with striations only in the middle?
 

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Obviously there is no substitute for a vet diagnosis, but -

I've received good info from Facebook groups dedicated to Veterinary parasitology / entomology / etc, in the past.

Take the highest quality photos you can, with a known object for scale (dime/dollar bill/playing card) and some of those groups are just full of people who may be able to offer ID help.

Beware, if you have a sensitive stomach.
 

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I honestly think it's a dog tapeworm. Note the image on this page with furled and unfurled specimens: https://www.omicsonline.org/mexico/dipylidium-infection-peer-reviewed-pdf-ppt-articles/

They certainly look like some type of tape, but I just can't seem to find a tape in existence with the lack of segmentation on the edges. At this point I will probably just hit the vet up for Drontal Plus and dose them both to see if these things stop appearing.



If that fails, maybe I'll go the 7-day Panacure route as I'm doing with dog #3. His mystery shopper was labeled a maggot by 1 vet, a Taenia taeniaeformis tape by the head of the practice, and "plant matter" by his daughter, who is my regular vet. Fun times.


Obviously there is no substitute for a vet diagnosis, but -

I've received good info from Facebook groups dedicated to Veterinary parasitology / entomology / etc, in the past.

Take the highest quality photos you can, with a known object for scale (dime/dollar bill/playing card) and some of those groups are just full of people who may be able to offer ID help.

Beware, if you have a sensitive stomach.

Can you recommend 1 or 2 active groups?
 

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Ah, if only it were acceptable to mail! I have good connection with a parasitologist. He studies specifically ticks, but would have no issue identifying this properly. If you have a university near you with a biology department that employs parasitogists, you could always contact them and ask if they would be willing to determine which specimen, if any, this is.
 
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