What Is Whipworm in Dogs?
Trichuris Vulpis, also known as whipworm, is a type of intestinal parasite that can infect dogs. The time between infection with the parasite and production of whipworm eggs by female worms is between 74 to 90 days. The duration between infection with parasite, and actual production of whipworm eggs, impacts how this parasite is treated. If treatment does not cover the reproductive cycle of the parasite, it will make it difficult to clear the infection.
There are three stages in the life cycle of the whipworms, including the eggs, larvae and mature adult whipworms.
Stage 1 Eggs: Whipworms eggs are released in the stool of an infected dog out into the environment. Over a period of 9 to 21 days, the eggs mature into an infective stage. This maturation process is impacted by the temperature and moisture of the soil, and eggs can survive in the environment for years.
Stage 2 Larvae: Once the eggs are ingested by your dog, the larvae hatch from the eggs and attach to the mucosa (walls of the intestines). They remain there for a period of 2 to 10 days and continue to develop before moving on to a different part of the intestinal tract (cecum or sometimes colon area).
Stage 3 Adult: The adult worms mainly reside in the cecum or colon areas of the large intestine where they consume blood, tissue, fluids and mucosal lining. After 70 to 90 days, the female adult worms produce eggs. Female worms can produce more than 2,000 eggs per day. The immature eggs are released in the dog's feces, and the life cycle continues. If a dog ingests infective whipworms eggs from the soil, it can become infected with the parasite.
Symptoms of Whipworm in Dogs
Clinical signs of whipworm include:
- Diarrhea, often with frank (bright red blood) or mucus present
- Weight loss
- Electrolyte imbalances (increased potassium K+ and decreased sodium Na+), mimicking Addison’s disease
Pet parents typically do not see whipworms in the stool, but if they were present, they would look like small pieces of thread with one end enlarged.
Causes of Whipworm in Dogs
How Veterinarians Diagnose Whipworm in Dogs
If none of the eggs are found in your dog’s fecal sample, but your veterinarian is still suspicious about possible whipworm infection, then a parasite antigen test can be performed. This is a test usually performed at an outside laboratory where the feces is tested for the presence of a protein associated with whipworms. The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends fecal testing puppies at least four times per year, and adult dogs twice yearly to check for whipworms.
Treatment of Whipworm in Dogs
The other options for treatment include several of the monthly heartworm prevention medications that will treat and help prevent future whipworm infections
Recovery and Management of Whipworm in Dogs
Monthly prevention medications are important as they can help prevent and even treat whipworm infections. It is better for your pet’s health to try to prevent intestinal parasites than to have to treat these infections and have your pet deal with the underlying clinical signs.
Common preventative medications include:
If you are not able to keep your pet on a monthly preventive, it’s best to treat adult pets four times a year with a broad-spectrum dewormer.
Whipworm in Dogs FAQs
Can you see whipworms in dog feces?
How long does it take to get rid of whipworms in dogs?
Can humans get whipworms from dogs?
Humans are not able to catch whipworms from dogs.
Can whipworms spread from dog to dog?
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