Whipworms are one of the 3 most common worms in dogs. These parasites can cause your pup a lot of pain, so it is important owners know what they are, the causes, and the treatment. In this post, our Austell vets share everything you need to know about whipworm.
What you need to know about whipworm.
Whipworms are intestinal parasites that live in the cecum and large intestine of dogs. They cause severe irritation to the lining of the intestines and can grow up to a 1/4 inch long.
When a dog has whipworm, they might experience watery/bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. Of all the intestinal parasites found in dogs, whipworms cause the most disease.
What causes whipworm in dogs?
The lifecycle of whipworms in dogs is part of what makes them so infectious. Whipworms implant eggs in the stool of the infected dog. After defecation, the eggs (which are very resistant to drying and heat) can remain alive in the environment for up to 5 years. During their time in the environment, they mature to an infective stage and can re-infect a new dog in 10 to 60 days.
After being swallowed by the dog, the matured eggs hatch inside them and then grow into adults in the lower intestinal tract.
Whipworm symptoms in dogs.
Below are some symptoms of whipworm in dogs. If you notice your pup displaying any of these symptoms, seek veterinary care immediately.
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Blood in stool
Upon taking your dog to the vet for these symptoms, your veterinarian will diagnose possible whipworm (or other parasitic infection) by testing a fecal sample, which they may ask you to bring in beforehand if you call ahead before bringing your dog to the clinic.
Treatment for whipworm in dogs.
Several drugs are effective against whipworms. All drugs treatments require two doses spaced at a three- to four-week interval. When treating your dog for whipworm with us, it is crucial to follow our Bullard Animal Hospital vets' instructions when it comes to administering medication and follow-up appointments.
The most frustrating aspect of whipworm is the higher than average re-infection rate. If your dog is diagnosed with a whipworm infection, we suggest treating them again every three to four months as a preventative measure. The other, simpler option, is to use a heartworm preventative that contains a whipworm medication.
This all might sound scary, but whipworms are far less common in recent years than before. So long as you are a vigilant, attentive dog owner who takes these preventative measures, your pup has a good chance of being just fine.
There are 3 simple things you can do ahead of time to prevent whipworms (as well as roundworms and hookworms) in your dog:
- Pick up dog feces promptly. If whipworm eggs are not in the environment, other animals cannot become infected.
- Cover sandboxes. Covered sandboxes cannot become contaminated by other dogs or cats.
- Fecal examinations, and regularly deworming of your dog by your Austell vets.