Dog whipworm can pose a serious problem for your dog because, unlike some of the other dog worms, this one literally drinks your dog’s blood.
Whipworms are parasitic nematodes that live in the cecum, the first section of the dog’s large intestine. Whipworm get their name from their whip-like shape.
Whipworm is one of the smaller intestinal worms with a size that ranges from 1.1 – 2.0 inches (30-50 mm) in length. It has a small, narrow anterior head, which is the digestive part of the worm, and a larger posterior tail. This tail is the reproductive part of the whipworm.
The good news is that a dog’s reaction to whipworms will usually be on the mild side, although there are exceptions to this. If your dog becomes heavily infected with whipworms, it can suffer diarrhea and you may notice that its feces is streaked with fresh blood. Young dogs, or dogs that have a chronic infection, can suffer severe weight loss, dehydration due to the diarrhea, and even anemia from blood loss as a result of a whipworm infection.
Dog Whipworm Infection
Dogs must eat whipworm eggs to become infected with whipworms. These worm eggs can be found in prey, dog feces and contaminated water. Whipworm eggs can survive for months or even years and will even resist freezing.
Once inside a dog, whipworm eggs hatch, mature into adult whipworms that live inside the dog’s cecum, colon and rectum. Whipworms burrow into the intestinal wall and begin feeding on the dog’s blood. They reside there for about three months before they begin laying eggs. The adult whipworms lay many eggs that are released in the feces into the outside world. Whipworm eggs are able to form embryos in the soil in about 2-4 weeks, at which time they become infective if ingested by a new host.
Dog Whipworm Symptoms
The symptoms of dog whipworms can include nonspecific diarrhea, weight loss and blood-streaked diarrhea. The difficult thing about a whipworm infection is that while it may show no apparent symptoms, it can cause recurring diarrhea and colitis.
Dog Whipworm Diagnosis
The only practical way to diagnose whipworms in a dog is by finding the worms in its stool. Since female whipworms do not produce eggs every day, and the number of eggs they do produce is usually small, it may be necessary to have repeated fecal exams in order to find the eggs and diagnose a whipworm infection.
Preventing Whipworm In Dogs
The best way to keep your dog from becoming whipworm infected it is to keep its area clean and free of feces. You should also make sure that its toys, bones and any other items your dog likes to chew on are clean and free of dirt. The fact is there is no good way to kill whipworm eggs in the soil. If you believe the dirt in your dog’s run or kennel has been whipworm-infected, you will need to replace the soil with new dirt, gravel or pavement. Dog runs and the floors of kennels should be impervious so that they are easier to clean. Kennels, runs and litter boxes need to be cleaned thoroughly and then allowed to dry in direct sunlight if possible. Also, any feces in your yard should be picked up on a daily basis.
Dog Whipworm Treatment
If your dog does become whipworm infected, don’t worry. Dog whipworm treatment is very easy and inexpensive. A whipworm infection can be treated with just about any good the dewormer. There are many dog worm medications available. Some of the more popular ones are WormX, Advantage Multi, Safe-Guard, Panacur-C, Sentinel Drontal Plus, Interceptor and WormX Plus. The majority of these dog worm medications are sold retail without a prescription. However some, including Panacur-C, do require a prescription but can still be purchased online or at your favorite pet store. There is also an all-natural wormer available called HomeoPet Worm Clear.
Even if your dewormer does not require a prescription, you should still use it only under the directions of your veterinarian. Medication doses can vary depending on your dog’s size and the severity of the infection. Only your vet can tell you what dosage would be right for your dog. Also, you’ll probably have to worm the dog again about 75 days after the first worming to fully clear the infection.
Dog whipworm infections are normally not dangerous to your dog. However, whipworm disease can cause your pet to suffer. This means it is always a good idea to have your dog’s feces checked regularly to keep it whipworm free.