Tapeworm vs. Roundworm

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Difference between Tapeworm and Roundworm

Tapeworms and roundworms are some of the most common intestinal parasites affecting pets. It is important to detect them early on to avoid further complications due to their multiplication process. Veterinarians even advise pet owners to bring a stool sample to their yearly exam.

Tapeworms and roundworms affect kittens and puppies as well as adult cats and dogs. When pets have these parasites they can present symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and loss of hair. The usual treatment includes de-wormers. But first, a specialist needs to identify the type of worm or parasite in order to prescribe the right medicinal product.


Tapeworms pertain to the family of parasitic flatworms called Cestoda. They live in the digestive tract of young and adult animals, but can also parasitize the human body when introduced through under-prepared pork, beef or fish meat.

Roundworms, also known as nematodes, are parasitic worms. There are almost 16,000 identified species.


The anatomy of a tapeworm is composed of a scolex and a segmented body resembling a thin tape. The scolex which is the name for the tapeworm’s head has four tentacles used for sucking. The segments are called proglottids. Each of them contains male and female reproductive structures and an independent digestive system. As the tapeworm feeds new segments are added. There are two layouts for proglottids: craspedote where proglottids are overlapped by the previous proglottid and acraspedote which refers to conjoined proglottids. The nervous system is coordinated by a cerebral ganglion located in the scolex. The nerves located in the proglottids are temporary and they are lost if a detachment of a proglottid occurs. Tapeworms are large enough to be seen without using a microscope.

Roundworms have various sizes from microscopic to larger individuals. The body presents ridges, warts and rings as distinctive features and is covered with sensory bristles. The head has sensory bristles and solid shields. The mouth has a sharp stylet which is used for sucking liquid.


Tapeworms are hermaphrodites having both male and female reproductive organs. But self-fertilization occurs in rare cases. The common reproduction way is cross-fertilization one tapeworm using its male reproductive organ and the other the female reproductive organ.

Most species of roundworms can either have male or female reproductive organs. Reproduction occurs through copulation. Some species of roundworms are hermaphrodites and reproduce through self-fertilization keeping the eggs inside the uterus before they hatch. Then the offspring will ingest the parent.

Similarities and Differences

  • Tapeworms pertain to the family of parasitic flatworms called Cestoda. Roundworms also known as nematodes are parasitic worms.
  • Tapeworms have a scolex and a segmented body, while roundworms have a body covered with ridges, warts and rings and the head has sensory bristles.
  • Tapeworms are hermaphrodites, but reproduction occurs through cross-fertilization. Roundworms have separate male and female individuals and reproduce through copulation. Some species of roundworms are self-fertilizing.

Which pet pest is easier to get rid of?
  • Tapeworm
  • Roundworm

Discuss It: comments 5

  • Guest
  • shannon herber wrote on December 2012

im37 yr old female and for almost one yr i have had skin infection n infestation. i have notice that in my stool was little brownish color circle believed to be wat was on my skin . i now have little white squishy things on my head. also noticed in my fecies the little circle not real sure wat it is . but they have grown extremely big. looking like a seasome seed but twice the size. they are yellowish color with black at the end on the tip. i have cats n kittens also a puppy . can u please help me figure out what is wrong with me? i constantly itch on my body arms hands head face legs. they change color to black and are very sharp to the feel. i have had this for one year please help me.

  • Guest
  • shannon herber wrote on December 2012

this has ruined my life . one year i could not go to my childrens softball games or cheerleading games. becouse i had a terrible rash covering my body. i have had no sex life. and had to wear longsleeved shirts in the summer. it litterally drove me crazy. i need your help please. thank you.

  • Guest
  • zaaax wrote on February 2015


  • Guest
  • Canadian Cats wrote on October 2015

Those yellowish seeds with black tips are tapeworm segments. Your doc can prescribe an easy dewormer. Your animals likely have them (and fleas), too--a vet can presveibe topical Revolution for fleas and Profender for worms. Good luck!


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