Whipworms are intestinal parasites which commonly live in the large intestine of dogs. The medical term for whipworm is “Trichuris” and one of the foremost common canine parasites and infections found in dogs. This type of worm is named for whip-like appearance of its body that has a thicker head, where the front portion of the worm is very thin with 2-3 inches long, but rarely seen in the dog’s Feces. They live in the cecum and the colon of dogs, when they cause severe irritation to the lining of these organs. It results in watery, bloody stool, diarrhea, general debilitation and weight loss.
The eggs live in dogs intestine, where they borrow their tails into the intestinal wall leaving their mouths free to eat. They produce eggs as many as 2000 or more in a day that are passed in the dog’s feces, in the mean while, the egg enters into the soil and gets infected in 2 to 3 weeks. When the eggs hatches in the small intestine, it just releases larvae, which eventually travel to the large intestine and become adults in any age of dogs.
Causes of whipworms
Dogs contract whipworms by ingesting contaminated matter such as food, flesh and water etc. Eating feces of animal infected with Trichuris Vulpis and drinking/playing in the contaminated water contains whipworms egg. The swallowed egg hatch in three months in the place of the larvae matures in the intestine and they could burrow into the intestinal wall and then, feed off the blood with the host animal. Once, those fully matured larvae produces more eggs and have been living in intestine for years or it spreads rapidly to other animals.
- Weight loss.
- Loss of appetite.
- Bloody stool/ mucus in stool.
At the initial stage of whipworm infection, it does not show any symptoms regarding infections. As the time passes, the heavier infection may cause and inflammation of the large intestine resulting in diarrhea with mucus/blood. With severe infections, it can cause dogs to become anaemic, weak along with weight loss. Whipworms may also cause an electrolyte imbalance that tends to reduce the potential of dogs. The abdomen becomes tender and the underbelly may look swollen, at the same time your pet reacts, when the affected area is being touched. The disease is diagnosed by finding microscopic parasite during faecal examination. Somehow, there are number of reasons behind eggs, which do not occur in faecal test/exam, even in the infected dog. Usually, female whipworms don’t lay eggs all the time, so several treatments are done for weeks before the eggs are found.
Whipworms are diagnosed by conducting the faecal flotation procedure on a stool sample by microscopic examination. It takes longer time to present symptoms and the chances are good that the infections have been grown already, and searching some other parasitic infections such as roundworms or hookworms. Any dog with chronic large bowl diarrhea is suspected to have whipworms, and responsible to treat an indication that whipworms are present or not, during the check up. Parasites pass small number of eggs, it is not in the regular basis, so the samples may be negative.
How to treat whipworms
Treating whipworms gradually comes down to give drugs, which helps to kill worms in the large intestine. The common wormer is more effective against whipworms that includes Safe-Guard Granules, Panacur and Sentinel provides the best heartworm preventives. Panacur and sentile requires a prescription, where Safe-Guard does not occur. The immature worms in the intestine resist to dewormers and for certain reasons, the treatment often needs to be repeated for several months, unless all the larvae have been matured into adults.
De-worming medication is used for different parasites, it will damage both the adults and larvae in the system. The most frustrating aspect of whipworm infection is high rate of re-infection, because the eggs are extremely hard. For better results, the repeated treatments, after weeks or months are recommended mostly, in order to protect them from re-infections and chronic infections, due to its longer survive, the power from the eggs is more significant. The vet may suggest a monthly parasite preventative on ongoing basis. Just, pick up your pet waste promptly, which helps them to avoid the infections.
Preventive measures of whipworms
The treatment for whipworms is an anti-parasitic agent, as commonly taken in the form of oral pills. Fenbendazole, oxantel, milbemycin is the first choice for further treatment. This ensures the complete eradication of the disease/infection and if the irritation of digestive tract persists, inspite of curing and anti inflammatory drugs may prescribe to restore the absorbing capacity to the small intestine. In addition to that, the supportive action is often required which includes iron supplements and IV fluids. The control of T.Vulpis can be achieved by use of monthly board spectrum heartworm products. They reduce the exposure of dogs to embryonated eggs in the environment, where dogs defecate.
To prevent other dogs from being exposed to whipworms egg and if your dog affected, we should make an effort to pick up and dispose those feces as soon as possible, which is one of the best ways to prevent whipworms from being spread-out. They are very resistant to temperature extremes and radiation from sunlight and that’s why, it is better to have periodic check up and protect them against whipworms. To get rid of whipworms is quite difficult, as the pet owners are advised to do, as much as they can prevent whipworms from ever presenting a problem. Keep your yard clean at all time and avoiding area, where your dog will be kept closer confined spaces with other animals.
In major cases, symptoms are severe and recovery is swift, while the improvement can be seen within a week. Unlike, many parasite eggs, whipworms are highly susceptible to desiccation and thus dying rather than dormant. Maintaining/supervising your dogs outdoor, reduces the chances of reoccurrence of diseases. Keep your dog away from children during the period of recovery. The cost of whipworms treatment can be expensive in dogs which ranges from 250 USD to 500 USD depending upon the cost severity of whipworms. As an average, the national cost for treating whipworms in dogs is 300 USD.