Whipworms are intestinal parasites that are about 1/4 inch long. They live in the cecum (a pouch that forms the first part of the large intestine) and large intestine of dogs.
Adult whipworms lay their eggs in the large intestine, where they are then passed into the dog’s stool to infect the environment.
How do dogs get whipworms?
By being in contact with infected soil. Whipworm eggs thrive in moist, warm soil but over time can dry out. The eggs can remain in the environment for several years.
The common signs of whipworms in dogs:
- Diarrhea, often with bright red blood or mucus present
- Weight loss
- Electrolyte imbalances (increased potassium K+ and decreased sodium Na+), mimicking Addison’s disease
Some pets with whipworms may not show any clinical signs. The infection can be asymptomatic with low numbers of worms present but as the worm burden increases, there is more potential for inflammation and even hemorrhage into the cecum and colon.
Done by testing your dog’s fecal sample for the presence of whipworm eggs. The eggs, when viewed under a microscope, will be football-shaped with caps on both ends.
Whipworm eggs can be difficult to find because of the long reproductive cycle. Also, the eggs are shed into the stool intermittently and are heavier than other parasite eggs so different laboratory techniques may be needed.
whipworms have a high level of reinfection, making them hard to get rid of.
We may prescribe an anti-worm medication to kill the parasites m and help alleviate his/her symptoms. There are several common anti-worm medications that are effective in treating whipworms. In addition to medication, a thorough cleansing of kennel areas and runs is needed, along with eliminating moist areas can help destroy whipworm eggs in the environment.
Some heartworm medications can also control infections, which is why regular parasite preventatives are the best way to treat and prevent whipworm infections and re-infections in the future.
It is possible to see whipworms in your dog’s feces; however, they are not seen very often. They would look like thin pieces of thread.
It takes three months to get rid of whipworms in dogs.
Can whipworms spread from dog to dog?
Whipworms are not spread directly from dog to dog, but if your dog comes into an environment where another pet has released infectious eggs in their feces, then your dog can potentially become infected.
How can I keep me and my dog safe?
Despite being one of the most common intestinal parasites found in dogs, whipworms are far less common today than they used to be, thanks to preventatives.
If whipworms are common in your area, or if your dog was recently diagnosed with whipworms, you might want to consider switching to a heartworm preventative that also prevents whipworms. Look for preventatives with these active ingredients: