Whipworms are common parasites of the large intestine of dogs; they are thin and 5-7 cm long. Using their mouths as a spear-like sword, whipworms slash and puncture the intestine wall and feed on the released blood and tissue fluids.
How Whipworms are Transmitted
A dog may acquire whipworms by accidentally ingesting the infective eggs in contaminated soil. The extreme resistance of these eggs makes the environmental control very difficult.
The Life Cycle of the Whipworm
In the intestine of the dog, the eggs hatch and, in a few weeks, the larvae develop into adult, egg-laying worms. Since the eggs are not shed regularly, diagnosis can be difficult and several stool examinations may be required.
Because of their feeding habits, whipworms can cause:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Dehydration, especially in cases of heavy infestation
Treating Whipworm Infection
Once whipworm is detected in your pet’s stool, your veterinarian should prescribe a de-worming medication specific for that parasite. Your pet should also be given a monthly parasite preventative to deter transmission of these and other internal parasites in the future.