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Dogs Whipworms







What are whipworms?

Whipworms are intestinal parasites which are about 1/4 inch (6 mm) long and therefore are not seen. They live in the large intestine (cecum and colon) of dogs where they cause severe irritation to the lining of these organs. This results in watery, bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and general debilitation. They are one of the most pathogenic (harmful) worms found in dogs.


How did my dog get whipworms?

Whipworms pass microscopic eggs in the stool. The eggs are very resistant to drying and heat, so they can remain viable in the dog's environment for years. They mature and are able to reinfect the dog in 10-60 days. The eggs are swallowed and return to the lower intestinal tract to complete the life cycle.


How is whipworm infection diagnosed?

Whipworms are diagnosed by finding eggs with a microscopic examination of the stool. However, multiple samples are often required because these parasites pass small numbers of eggs on an irregular basis. Any dog with chronic diarrhea can be reasonably suspected to have whipworms, regardless of several negative stool examinations.


It is an accepted practice to treat for whipworms based on assumption of infection. Response to treatment is an indication that whipworms were present but could not be detected on fecal examination.


How are whipworms treated?

There are several drugs that are very effective against whipworms. Two treatments are needed at a 3 month interval, but because reinfection is such a problem, it is advisable to treat again every 34 months or to put the dog on a heartworm preventive which also prevents whipworms. Whipworms are not nearly as common now because of widespread use of the heartworm preventives which help to control whipworms, for example, Interceptor.


Please note that although several heartworm preventative products block infection by several kinds of intestinal worms, some do not prevent infection with whipworms.


Can I get whipworms from my dog?

Whipworms are not infectious to people; they are only parasites of the dog.



If you have any other dogs in your household, they should also be dewormed.


Please dispose of all dog feces promptly to prevent reoccurrence.