Whipworms are a frequent type of parasite that live in dogs' large intestine and cecum. They can irritate, resulting in various uncomfortable symptoms. In this article, our Somerset vets provide insights into whipworms in dogs, covering symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
What is whipworm in dogs?
Whipworms, known as Trichuris vulpis in the scientific world, are tiny parasites that can harm your dog's health. Only about 1/4 inch in size, these parasites live in your dog's large intestine and cecum. They attach to the inner lining and cause irritation, affecting your dog's well-being.
What do whipworms look like?
This intestinal parasite has a distinctive shape with a thicker front end and a long, thin back end that resembles a whip.
What is the whipworm lifecycle in dogs?
Whipworms go through three main stages: egg, larvae, and adult. Eggs are laid in a dog's intestine and end up in their poop. This means that an infected dog spreads these eggs whenever it goes potty. These eggs are really tough and can stay alive in the environment for up to 5 years.
Once outside, the eggs usually become infective in about 10-60 days, ready to infect another animal. After being eaten, they hatch and grow in the pet's intestine, where they lay more eggs, and the cycle starts again.
How do I know if my dog has whipworms?
If your dog has recently gotten a whipworm infection, it might not show many signs at first, and even as the infection progresses, some dogs might not show any symptoms. However, common symptoms of whipworm infection in dogs include:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Blood in stool
How are whipworms in dogs diagnosed?
Fecal exams at your vet's office are the best way to monitor your dog for intestinal parasites, including whipworms. Whipworms take up to 12 weeks to mature and begin laying eggs, and tend to lay limited numbers of eggs and on an inconsistent basis. For these reasons, diagnosis can be tricky and may require repeated fecal exams to reach an accurate diagnosis.
How will my vet treat my dog's whipworm infestation?
Whipworms are tough parasites that can easily come back even after treatment. Treating whipworms in dogs involves using special medicines to kill these parasites in their intestines. If your dog is feeling uncomfortable, additional medications might be given.
The treatment usually happens in two rounds, with about 3-4 weeks between each. To stop the parasites from returning, cleaning your dog's bedding, kennel, and play area well is important.
Your vet might also suggest treating your dog every 3-4 months to avoid more infections.
Can I prevent my dog from getting whipworm?
Absolutely! It's usually much simpler and better to prevent issues than to treat them later, especially when it comes to pets. Most dog heartworm medications also guard against whipworms. By giving your pet monthly heartworm medication, you're safeguarding against heartworms and various other gut parasites like whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Don't hesitate to consult your vet for advice on the best protection for your dog.
At Midway Veterinary Hospital, we have a range of preventive products that can help shield your dog from intestinal parasites.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.