- Medication type: Tapeworm dewormer
- Form: Tablet, Injection
- Prescription required? Yes
- FDA approved? Yes
- Life stage: All
- Brand names: Droncit. Praziquantel is also found in some broad-spectrum combination dewormers (Drontal) and in some heartworm preventatives (Interceptor Plus, Sentinel Spectrum, Iverhart Max, Milbemax).
- Common names: Droncit
- Available dosages: Tablets = 23 mg, 34 mg, and 50 mg; Injection = 58.6 mg/ml
- Expiration range: 30 months from the date of packaging
Praziquantel is a dewormer that is used in a variety of animal species, including humans, to treat intestinal parasites that are referred to as tapeworms.
The most common tapeworm in dogs is Dipylidium caninum. This tapeworm is spread by fleas. When a dog bites a flea on his skin and ingests that flea, he can become infected with tapeworms. These tapeworms then become apparent as small rice-like parasites which can be seen around a dog’s rectum. Other tapeworm species can be acquired by ingesting infected rodents, small mammals or beetles.
What is Praziquantel?
Praziquantel is a dewormer that is effective only against tapeworms. It is frequently used in a wide variety of species, including dogs, cats, horses, sheep, reptiles, and even humans.
Praziquantel was initially approved for human use in 1982. It is now widely available and is carried by nearly every veterinary practice in the United States. Most veterinarians prescribe this drug on a daily, or near-daily, basis, to treat pets with evidence of tapeworms. Praziquantel does not require a visit to a veterinary specialist.
Praziquantel is available in a number of forms, both as a sole agent and in combination with other dewormers. If your pet is diagnosed with tapeworms, your veterinarian will likely prescribe praziquantel for treatment. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a broad-spectrum dewormer for your dog, which contains praziquantel in combination with other deworming agents. Some monthly heartworm preventatives also contain praziquantel to prevent tapeworm infection.
What Does Praziquantel Look Like?
Praziquantel is typically administered as an oral tablet. These tablets are usually small and white in color. They do not have a waxy coating, like you may see in some other tablets. The tablets may be administered in the veterinary clinic or sent home with you to administer on your own.
Injectable praziquantel is a clear, thick liquid. It is given as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) by a member of the veterinary team.
If praziquantel is given in combination with other medications, such as heartworm prevention or broad-spectrum dewormer, the drug appearance typically resembles that of the original medication. Drontal, a common broad-spectrum dewormer that contains praziquantel, is a yellow tablet.
How Does Praziquantel Work?
Praziquantel specifically targets tapeworms. When a tapeworm comes in contact with praziquantel in a dog’s intestinal tract, praziquantel interferes with the tapeworm’s ability to regulate internal calcium levels.
It is thought that the resulting calcium imbalance kills tapeworms by causing paralysis, however, the mechanism is not fully understood. What is known is that praziquantel is highly effective against tapeworms and kills the parasites in dogs rapidly.
What Does Praziquantel Treat in Dogs?
Praziquantel can be used to treat a variety of tapeworm species in dogs. However, praziquantel does not protect dogs from or treat other canine intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, or whipworms.
Therefore, the dewormer that is prescribed for intestinal parasites depends on the parasite that is diagnosed.
Praziquantel treats the following tapeworms in dogs:
- Dipylidium caninum (the most common tapeworm in dogs)
- Echinococcus granulosus
- Echinococcus multilocularis
- Spirometra mansonoides
- Diphyllobothrium erinacea
- Alaria species
- Taenia species
Praziquantel Side Effects in Dogs
Praziquantel is a drug that is commonly used in veterinary medicine. Fortunately, side effects are rare. When pets do experience praziquantel side effects, the effects are typically limited to mild gastrointestinal upset.
Like any other injection, injectable praziquantel may also be associated with mild discomfort at the injection site.
Side effects to watch in dogs for include:
- Decreased appetite
- Injection site pain
If you observe any side effects that you feel may be caused by praziquantel, contact your veterinarian for guidance.
Reactions With Other Drugs and Medications
There are no significant drug interactions between praziquantel and other dog medications.
While some medications, including corticosteroids, phenytoin, and rifampin, are associated with increasing circulating blood concentrations of praziquantel, the wide margin of safety of this drug makes this effect not clinically significant. In fact, dogs have been given five times the recommended dose of praziquantel during safety studies with no adverse effects noted.
Therefore, even dogs that are receiving corticosteroids, such as prednisone, can be safely dewormed with praziquantel.
Praziquantel Dosages for Dogs
Praziquantel dosages for dogs vary based on a dog’s size. The dose of medication is directly proportional to the dog’s weight.
There are several different tablet sizes of praziquantel available. Small dogs typically receive the small 23 mg tablets while large dogs are often prescribed the large 50 mg tablets. Your veterinarian will provide the correct tablet size for your dog and tell you how many of the tablets to give.
In most cases, a one-time treatment of praziquantel is all that is necessary to eliminate a tapeworm infection. If praziquantel is provided in combination with another dewormer, however, it may be necessary to repeat the treatment since some intestinal parasites require multiple dewormer doses in order to be cleared. Additionally, dogs that are at a high risk of tapeworm infection may be prescribed praziquantel to give on a regular or recurring basis.
You can administer praziquantel with a meal or on an empty stomach. It is equally effective with or without food, so dosing can be performed in whatever method is most convenient for you.
What if My Dog Misses a Dose of Praziquantel?
Praziquantel is typically administered as a single dose of one or more tablets, which is typically given on the day that it is prescribed. If you forget to give the dose after your veterinary visit, give it as soon as you remember to do so.
When praziquantel is prescribed in conjunction with another dewormer, repeated dosing is often necessary. If you miss a dose in this sequence, your next step will largely depend on what other dewormers are present in the combination dewormer. Contact your veterinarian for guidance if a dose is missed.
Cost of Praziquantel for Dogs
The cost of praziquantel varies, depending on your dog’s size. Generic alternatives may be available at a lower cost than the brand-name Droncit. In general, you can expect a single dose of praziquantel dewormer to cost anywhere from $5-$75, depending on the size of your dog.
Praziquantel Storage Instructions
Praziquantel tablets can be stored at room temperature. This medication does not require refrigeration or other special handling. However, it is important not to use the medication past its expiration date.