Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

What causes whipworm in dogs?

Whipworms are a common parasite that makes their home in the large intestine and cecum of dogs, causing irritation and leading to a host of uncomfortable symptoms. Today our Knightdale vets explain more about whipworms in dogs including symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

What is whipworm in dogs?

Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) are intestinal parasites that can have a negative impact on your dog's general health. These parasites, which are about a quarter of an inch long, live in your dog's large intestine and cecum, where they cling to the mucosal lining and cause significant inflammation. Swallowing infective whipworm eggs in dirt or other items that may contain dog feces is what causes whipworm in dogs.

What do whipworms look like?

This intestinal parasite can be easily identified by its shape. They have a thicker front end and a long thin back end that look much like a whip. 

What is the whipworm lifecycle in dogs?

The lifecycle of a whipworm consists of three stages: egg, larval, and adult. The eggs hatch in the dog's intestine and end up in the dog's stool. This means that a whipworm-infected dog transmits whipworm eggs with each bowel movement. The eggs are incredibly durable and can live for up to 5 years in the environment.

Once the eggs are released into the wild, they typically mature into the infective stage in 10-60 days, at which point they are ready to infect the next host animal.

Soon after being consumed, they hatch and mature in the pet's intestine, where they lay more eggs and repeat the cycle.

Symptoms of Whipworm in Dogs

If your dog was recently infected, there will likely be few signs of a whipworm infection, and some dogs will stay asymptomatic (display no symptoms) even in later stages of infection. However, the following are some of the most common whipworm symptoms in dogs:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in stool
  • Anemia

How are whipworms in dogs diagnosed?

Fecal exams at your vet's office are the best way to monitor your dog for intestinal parasites including whipworms. Whipworms take up to 12 weeks to mature and begin laying eggs and tend to lay limited numbers of eggs on an inconsistent basis. For these reasons, diagnosis can be tricky and may require repeated fecal exams to reach an accurate diagnosis. 

What is the treatment for whipworms in dogs?

Because whipworm eggs are so resilient, reinfection often occurs making whipworms a challenging parasite to get rid of.

Whipworm treatment for dogs consists of prescription pills that destroy the parasites that live in your dog's intestine, as well as extra treatments that address any uncomfortable symptoms your dog may be experiencing. Most whipworm drugs for dogs necessitate two treatments spaced around three to four weeks apart. To assist prevent reinfection, you should thoroughly clean your dog's bedding, kennel area, and dog run. Your veterinarian may also recommend that you re-treat your dog every 3-4 months to help prevent reinfections.

Can I prevent my dog from getting whipworm?

Yes! Prevention is usually considerably easier and more successful than treatment. Many heartworm treatments for dogs also protect against whipworm. By providing your pet heartworm medication on a regular basis, you may also be protecting him or her from intestinal parasites such as whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. Consult your veterinarian about the best methods to keep your dog safe.

At Smithfield Road Veterinary Hospital, PLLC we also offer a selection of prevention products to help protect your dog against intestinal parasites.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is experiencing symptoms related to whipworms, contact Smithfield Road Veterinary Hospital to book an examination for your canine companion.

New Patients Are Welcome

Smithfield Road Veterinary Hospital, PLLC is currently accepting new patients! Our experienced and kind vets are passionate about the health of Knightdale pets. Contact us today to book your furry friend's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (919) 679-0170