Whipworms are common worms in dogs and found throughout the United States. Whipworms get their name from the whip-like shape of the adult worms and can be found living inside the large intestine of your dog, which is where they also reproduce.
How are Whipworms Transmitted?
A dog becomes infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with whipworm eggs. Additionally, dogs can become infected with whipworms by eating the stools of other dogs that contain the parasite. It is also possible for a dog to become infected after stepping in dog feces, that has whipworm eggs, when walking outside and then lick their paws. Once the eggs are swallowed, they hatch, and in three months, the larvae mature into adults and live in the large intestine. Adult worms lay eggs that are passed out of the body in the feces. The whipworm eggs need to be in the soil for approximately 30 days to mature then they are capable of causing infection.
How is Whipworm Diagnosed?
A small number of worms will not show symptoms of infection. Larger numbers of worms in dogs lead to an inflammation of the intestinal wall leading to mucous and bloody stools. Dogs may have diarrhea, increased appetite, and loss of weight. But, a diagnosis is made by finding the eggs in the feces. This should be done by a veterinarian to rule out other parasites that lay eggs that end up in animal feces.
How can Whipworm infections be Prevented?
Whipworm eggs can remain alive in moist soil for years and they are resistant to freezing. All dogs should be restricted from areas that have been contaminated. Since, whipworm eggs thrive in soil, contaminated soil must be replaced or covered with gravel or pavement. To reduce exposure in grass you need to clean up feces daily . These measures will reduce the occurance of worms in dogs.