The whipworm, known scientifically as Trichuris trichiura, is a parasite that can be found in either cats or dogs. The most common way your pet can pick up this parasite is by eating something that has already been infested. However, it is possible to transmit from animal to animal without actually ingesting anything. The eggs are very durable and can survive in their environment for months or even years. They are also very adaptable and can live in food, water, soil, feces, or on animal flesh. Old and young dogs alike can pick up this parasite.
Symptoms of whipworm in dogs
Whipworms in dogs can be a problem because they can cause diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. If the parasite is present in your dog, you may notice that the stool is blood and not solid. You may also notice that your dog either strains to use the restroom or has an unusually urgent need to go. Dogs hosting a large number of parasites may become anemic, experience weight loss, or start acting sluggish and tired.
Basic whipworm facts
In their adult stage, the whipworm can be as long as two or three inches, so they are visible to the naked eye. They are very thin, like a thread, but are thicker on one end than the other. This shape gives them the shape of a whip, which is how this parasite gets its name. Once it is an adult, the worm resides in between the small intestines and the large intestines and fastens to the wall of the gut. Compared to other worms, the female does not lay that many eggs and actually holds onto those eggs for a relatively long period of time. For that reason, if you take a fecal sample to the vet to see if your dog has worms, the vet may have trouble finding the eggs.
Treatments for whipworm in dogs
There are a lot of easy treatments to combat whipworm in dogs. The names of the most commonly prescribed treatments include Vercom Paste, Drontal Plus, Panacur, and Telmintic. It should be noted that getting high concentrations of drugs in the colon, where the worms live, can be difficult to achieve. For that reason the worms, once present, can be difficult to fully eradicate. Owing to the difficulty of getting rid of these worms, most people will apply a second or even third deworming treatment to their dog a few weeks after the initial dose. The most effective treatment is actually prevention, but this can be difficult. Worm eggs can live in their environment for as many as five years and still cause a problem later. If your dog frequents public parks, or stays out in a yard that has previously been infected with worms, he or she could have recurring infections. If you are worried that your yard or dog park could already be infested, you should inspect their stool on a daily basis. In addition to that, you should also give your dog Interceptor, which is technically heartworm medication, but also prevents and controls whipworms.