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What causes whipworm in dogs?

Whipworms are a common parasite that makes their home in the large intestine and cecum of dogs, causing irritation and leading to a host of uncomfortable symptoms. Today, our Mandeville vets explain more about whipworms in dogs including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

What is whipworm in dogs?

Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) are intestinal parasites that can have a negative impact on your dog's general health. These parasites, which are about a quarter of an inch long, live in your dog's large intestine and cecum, where they cling to the mucosal lining and cause significant inflammation.

How do dogs get whipworm?

Whipworm in dogs is caused by ingesting infective whipworm eggs in dirt or other items contaminated with dog feces.

What do whipworms look like?

This intestinal parasite is easily identified by its shape. They have a thicker front end and a long, thin back end that resembles a whip.

What is the whipworm lifecycle in dogs?

The lifecycle of a whipworm consists of three stages: egg, larval, and adult. The eggs hatch in the dog's intestine and end up in the dog's stool. This means that a whipworm-infected dog transmits whipworm eggs with each bowel movement. The eggs are incredibly durable and can live for up to 5 years in the environment.

Once released into the wild, the eggs typically mature into the infective stage in 10–60 days and are ready to infect the next host animal.

Soon after consumption, they hatch and mature in the pet's intestine, where they lay more eggs and repeat the cycle. 

Symptoms of Whipworm in Dogs

If your dog was recently infected, there will likely be few signs of a whipworm infection, and some dogs will stay asymptomatic (display no symptoms) even in later stages of infection. However, the following are some of the most common whipworm symptoms in dogs:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in stool
  • Anemia

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 on an inconsistent basis. For these reasons, diagnosis can be tricky and may require repeated fecal exams to reach an accurate diagnosis. 

What is the treatment for whipworms in dogs?

Whipworm eggs are so resilient that reinfection occurs frequently, making whipworms a difficult parasite to eradicate.

Whipworm treatment for dogs consists of prescription pills that destroy the parasites that live in your dog's intestine, as well as extra treatments that address any uncomfortable symptoms your dog may be experiencing. Most whipworm drugs for dogs necessitate two treatments spaced around three to four weeks apart. To assist prevent reinfection, you should thoroughly clean your dog's bedding, kennel area, and dog run. Your veterinarian may also recommend that you re-treat your dog every 3-4 months to help prevent reinfections.

Can I prevent my dog from getting whipworm?

Yes! Prevention is usually considerably easier and more successful than treatment. Many heartworm treatments for dogs also protect against whipworm. By providing your pet heartworm medication on a regular basis, you may also be protecting him or her from intestinal parasites such as whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Consult your veterinarian about the best methods to keep your dog safe.

At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we also provide a range of prevention products to help protect your dog from intestinal parasites.

Wellness Plans at Riverside Veterinary Hospital

At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we offer Wellness Plans for dogs of all sizes. All of our Wellness Plans include fecal exams, which are the best way to detect whipworms. If you're interested in learning more about our Wellness Plans, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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.

If your dog is experiencing symptoms related to whipworms, contact Riverside Veterinary Hospital to book an examination for your canine companion.

New Patients Welcome

At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

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