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What Is Whipworm in dogs? Causes, Treatment, & Prevention

What Is Whipworm in dogs? Causes, Treatment, & Prevention

Whipworms can infect dogs, which are intestinal parasites that feed on their blood and cause discomfort and other unpleasant symptoms. Our vets in Ankeny offer helpful information about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of dog whipworm.

Whipworm in Dogs

Whipworms, also known as Trichuris vulpis, are harmful parasites that can affect your dog's health and happiness. These intestinal parasites can grow up to 1/4 inch long and reside in the large intestine and cecum of your furry friend. They attach themselves to your pet's mucosal lining and cause significant irritation, which can lead to serious health issues.

Whipworm Appearance

This type of intestinal parasite can be identified by its distinctive shape. It has a thicker front end and a long, thin back end that resembles a whip.

Lifecycle of Whipworm in Dogs

The whipworm has three stages in its lifecycle: egg, larvae, and adult. Dogs infected with whipworm deposit eggs in their intestines, which are then expelled with their feces. This means that infected dogs can spread whipworm to other animals through their waste. The eggs are known for their impressive durability and can endure in the environment for as long as five years.

Once out in the world, the eggs typically mature into the infective stage in about 10-60 days. At this point, they are ready to infect the next host animal. Soon after they are ingested, they hatch and mature in the pet's intestine, where they lay more eggs and begin the cycle once again.

Symptoms of Whipworm in Dogs

If your dog has contracted whipworms, it is possible that you may not observe any noticeable signs. In fact, in the advanced stages of the infection, some dogs may not display any symptoms at all. However, you should still be vigilant for these typical symptoms of whipworm infection:

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

Treating Whipworm in Dogs

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. 

How Your Vet Will Help

Whipworm eggs are incredibly resilient, which often leads to reinfection, making them a challenging parasite to eliminate. To treat whipworms in dogs, veterinarians typically prescribe medications to kill the parasites as they reside and feed in the dog's intestine. If necessary, additional medications may be required to alleviate any uncomfortable symptoms your dog may be experiencing.

Most prescribed medications for whipworm treatment require monthly treatments. To prevent reinfection, it is essential to thoroughly clean your dog's kennel area, bedding, and yard. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend retreating your dog every four months to combat potential future reinfections.

Preventing Whipworm in Dogs

Preventing whipworm is far easier and more effective than treatment in most cases. Many heartworm medications for dogs will also protect against whipworms. By providing your pet with monthly heartworm medication, you could also be helping to protect your pet against a host of intestinal parasites, including whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Ask your vet for information on how best to protect your dog.

At Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital, we take pride in providing a range of preventive products that can safeguard your dog against 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.

Is your dog displaying symptoms of whipworms? Contact our Ankeny vets to have your canine companion examined.

New Patients Welcome

Creature Comforts Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our Ankeny vets take the time to get to know our clients and treat every pet as if it were our own. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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