Whipworms are one of the 3 most common worms in your dog. They can cause your dog a lot of pain so it is important to know what they are, the causes, and the treatment. Our New Iberia vets will let you know everything you need to know about whipworm.
What You Need To Know About Whipworm:
Whipworms are intestinal parasites that can grow to be 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, where they cause severe irritation to the lining of those organs.
Whipworm can result in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. Of all the intestinal parasites found in dogs, whipworms cause the most disease.
Whipworms pass microscopic eggs in the stool. The eggs are very resistant to drying and heat, so they can remain alive in the environment for up to 5 years. Once laid, they mature to an infective stage (a process known as embryonation) in the environment and can re-infect a new dog in 10-60 days.
The mature eggs are swallowed by the dog, hatch, and then mature into adults in the lower intestinal tract, completing their life cycle.
Several drugs are effective against whipworms. All drugs require two treatments, spaced at a three to four-week interval, to clear the infection. Make sure to follow our All Creatures Veterinary Hospital vets' instructions when it comes to administering medication or follow-up appointments.
The most frustrating aspect of whipworm infections is the high rate of re-infection because whipworm eggs are extremely hardy in the environment. If a dog is diagnosed with a whipworm infection, we suggest treating it again every three to four months.
The other option, which is much simpler, is to use a heartworm preventative that contains a whipworm medication.
Whipworms are far less common today than in previous years, because of the widespread use of modern heartworm prevention products.
There are 3 simple things you can do to prevent whipworms as well as roundworms and hookworms in your dog:
- Pick up dog feces promptly. If T. vulpis eggs are not in the environment, other animals cannot become infected. Follow this practice at your clinic, and convince your clients to do it at home.
- Cover sandboxes. Covered sandboxes cannot become contaminated by other dogs or cats.
- Fecal examinations, and regularly deworming of your dog by your New Iberia vets.