Whipworms

Canine Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) get their name from their whip-like shape.

whiphead

Overview

This intestinal parasite is quite prevalent throughout the U.S., especially in adult dogs.

Dogs become infected by accidentally eating whipworm eggs from contaminated soil (while grooming, for example).

Life Cycle

After being swallowed, whipworm eggs hatch in the intestines. The larvae invade the wall of the small intestine, where they continue to grow.

Later adult whipworms attach to the lining of the large intestine and cecum (a blind pouch where the small intestine meets the large intestine), where they slash the lining of the intestinal tract and feed on the tissues and blood.

In approximately 2 1/2 months the adult whipworms lay eggs that are expelled in the feces of infected dogs. The eggs must remain in the soil for 2 to 4 weeks to mature before they can infect new hosts..

Symptoms

Like hookworms, dog whipworms attach to the lining of the intestines and suck the dog’s blood, but they generally consume less blood than hookworms.

A small number of whipworms may not cause any signs, but a heavier infection can lead to diarrhea, weight loss, blood loss and anemia.

Health Risk To People

Canine whipworms rarely infect people.

Whipworm infections in humans are usually caused by a different (non-canine) species of whipworm known as Trichuris trichiura outside of the U.S.

Treatment

Because most canine worm treatment products are not effective against whipworms, extra care must be taken when choosing a dog dewormer for whipworms.

Fenbendazole, the active ingredient in Safe-Guard Canine, is recommended and is commonly used to control these parasites.