Whipworms

According to Pets and Parasites, whipworm is one of the four most common types of intestinal parasites founds in dogs. They make themselves at home in the cecum of your dog, which is the part of the body where the large and small intestines come together. Your dog can easily acquire whipworm by digging in soil and consuming whipworm eggs or parts of feces from herself or other dogs that contain whipworm. Whipworms are approximately one-quarter of an inch long and can survive for up to five years. They can also reproduce multiple times inside of your dog’s body. 

Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Whipworms in Dogs

This parasite can cause severe irritation to the lining of your dog’s intestines. When that happens, you are likely to notice at least some of these symptoms:

  • Bloody and watery diarrhea
  • General fatigue and listlessness
  • Infection and death in severe cases
  • Weight loss

Diagnosing whipworm in dogs can be tricky. That is because a veterinarian must spot at least one microscopic egg in a dog’s stool, and whipworms don’t mix with a dog’s stool every time he defecates. Another issue is that it can take up to 12 weeks after hatching for a female whipworm to lay eggs inside of your dog’s body. These two problems can often cause false negative results. Even if a result is negative, there is a high likelihood your dog actually does have whipworm if he continues to struggle with bloody, watery diarrhea.

At Grantsburg Animal Hospital, we often recommend a heartworm medication called Interceptor to treat whipworms since it is effective at killing them as well. We may use a different type of medication if your dog’s symptoms and unique lifestyle factors call for it. If that happens, we will need to space the treatments up to four weeks apart. Once a dog has tested positive for whipworm, it’s a good idea to continue to treat every several months as a proactive measure.

How to Prevent Your Dog from Getting Whipworm

The most effective thing you can do to prevent whipworm is to routinely remove your dog’s feces from your yard and stop him immediately if you notice him trying to eat the feces of another dog. It’s also important to keep up with your dog’s routine preventive care so we can take periodic stool samples to check for the presence of this parasite. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 715-463-2536 with additional questions or to schedule an appointment. 

 

Image credit: Annetics | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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