Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

What is Whipworm in Dogs? Causes, Treatment & Prevention

What is Whipworm in Dogs? Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Whipworms are a common parasite that reside in the large intestine and cecum of dogs, causing irritation and several uncomfortable symptoms. In this post, our Parrish vets explain the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention methods for whipworm in dogs.

What is Whipworm in Dogs?

Whipworms are an intestinal parasite that can severely negatively impact your dog's general health. These parasites make their home in your dog's large ingestine and cecum, causing significant inflammation as they cling to the mucosal lining. They measure about a quarter of an inch in length. If a dog swallows an infective whipworm egg found in dirt or other items that may contain dog feces, they can become infected. 

What do whipworms look like?

We can easily identify this intestinal parasite 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?

There are three stages to the whipworm's lifecycle: egg, larval, and adult. Eggs hatch in the dog's intestine, which are then found in the dog's stool. A dog infected with whipworms will pass whipworm eggs with every bowel movement. The eggs are remarkably durable and can survive in the environment for up to five years. 

After the eggs are released into the environment, they usually reach the infective stage within 10 to 60 days. This is when they are capable of infecting the next host animal. 

If a dog or cat consumes the eggs, they then hatch and mature in its intestine, where they lay more eggs and the cycle repeats. 

Symptoms of Whipworm in Dogs

If your dog recently got infected, there might be few signs of a whipworm infection, and some dogs may not show any symptoms even in later stages of infection. Here are some of the most common symptoms of whipworm in dogs:

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

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?

Whipworm eggs have a remarkable resilience, leading to frequent reinfection, which poses a significant challenge in eliminating these parasites.

Treating whipworms in dogs involves administering prescription pills that eliminate the parasites residing in your dog's intestine. Additionally, additional treatments are provided to alleviate any discomfort your dog may be enduring. Dogs typically require two treatments for whipworms, with a gap of three to four weeks between each treatment. To help prevent reinfection, make sure to thoroughly clean your dog's bedding, kennel area, and dog run. Your veterinarian may suggest re-treating 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 Ellenton Animal Hospital 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.

Is your dog experiencing symptoms of a whipworm or other parasitic infection? Contact our Parrish vets today to book an exam for your four-legged friend.

New Patients Welcome

Ellenton Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Parrish companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (941) 776-1100