Whipping Whipworms in Dogs and CatsWhipworms can affect both dogs and cats. These thin worms live in the large intestine and are usually 45 to 75 mm long. They receive their name from the worm's shape, which has a thinner front end and wider stout tail, making it resemble a whip.
TransmissionThe life cycle is simple and direct. Eggs are passed in the feces into the soil, where they are picked up and the process can start all over again. As long as the soil is relatively moist, eggs can live in the soil for years and are resistant to freezing.
Animals become infected with whipworms by ingesting food or drinking water that is contaminated with whipworm eggs. Pets can also become infected by grooming their feet after being in contact with infected soil. After the eggs are swallowed, they hatch and the larvae grow into adults in the large intestine. Then the thin head embeds itself into the intestinal wall and feeds on secretions.
SymptomsThe symptoms of whipworms may vary with the severity of the infection and amount of worms in the intestine. Whipworms cause a chronic loose stool consistency often containing mucus and blood flecks. Heavier infestations may cause weight loss, anorexia and diarrhea.
DiagnosisVeterinarians diagnose whipworms by looking under a microscope for eggs in the animal's feces. They often use a fecal flotation procedure to determine if worm eggs are present.
TreatmentThe treatment for whipworms is using a dewormer containing Fenbendazole or Febantel. Mature adults can be removed with an appropriate dewormer, but ingested eggs take two months to mature and are resistant to dewormers. Because immature worms can be resistant to treatment, you will need to give multiple doses for success. Environmental contamination and re-infection with whipworm eggs are difficult to eliminate, but disposing of feces and repeat deworming will be effective at preventing issues.
PreventionPreventing re-infection is the key with whipworms. Keeping your animals on a regular worming schedule with a preventative will help control and prevent parasites.
Raised decks for puppies will help prevent infection and break the worm life cycle. You should also pick up feces in the yard or litter box so that the eggs cannot cause re-infection.
If you ever introduce a new pet into your home or facility, you should take precaution and ensure that he is cleared of whipworms to prevent introduction to your other animals. Make sure his vaccinations are up-to-date and deworm with Fenbendazole to prevent whipworm eggs from contaminating your yard.
Want help preventing whipworm and other parasites? Call our Pet Care Pros at 800-786-4751.
-The Revival Education Team
The materials, information and answers provided through this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your personal veterinarian or other pet health care professional. Consult your own veterinarian for answers to specific medical questions, including diagnosis, treatment, therapy or medical attention.