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Whipworm, also known as ‘Trichuris Vulpis’ is a parasite that is common in dogs and is highly contagious.
It also goes by the name Trichuriasis, and their eggs are present in most places in the environment. They can affect any dog breed irrespective of their age and causes mild to severe levels of infection.
Once the larvae get inside your dog’s digestive tract, they reproduce and multiply, growing in numbers.
As they mature, the adult whipworms travel from the small intestine to the colon. They are known to feed on cellular secretions and lay residence in the mucosa.
Your dog may contact the parasites through when sniffing fecal matter or ingestion of contaminated soil. The whipworms eggs often hatch once they come into contact with the commensal bacteria that is present in the small intestine.
They develop survival mechanisms such as structures that are protruding. They are useful in absorbing the nutrients.
Mature adults feed on various secretions once they reach the large intestines. Unlike the heartworms, whipworms do not feed on blood. They cause inflammation which results in bleeding.
Other cases of whipworms in dogs may persist for several months without detection in the early stages. If you suspect that your dog is infected with the parasites, it is necessary to seek the help of the veterinarian.
What Are The Symptoms of Whipworms In Dogs?
It is always important to monitor your dog in an attempt to detect any changes in their behavior. Most dogs would become inactive, and they are often sluggish in their movement than before.
Most of the time they would always be restless and uncomfortable because of the irritation and gastrointestinal issues.
Since the whipworms feed on the nutrients and cellular secretions in the intestines, they lead to severe effects such as loss of weight.
Your dog will develop an increased appetite, because of the constant hunger that comes with the infestation. Your dog would be starved of the excess nutrients extracted from their gut by the worms.
Other signs of whipworm infection are characterized by bloody stools, cyclic vomiting, swollen abdomen, abdominal pain, and tenderness. When you observe their vomit, you will see some movement of the expelled whipworms.
Bloody diarrhea may lead to loss of blood as well as water from the body. Severe cases of whipworm in dogs will require a blood transfusion. Sometimes other dogs may be asymptomatic which means they do not show the signs of infestation until they reproduce, growing large in numbers.
Excessive diarrhea often leads to dehydration and most of the time your dog will always be thirsty. The symptoms can always be determined before the worms become visible.
Taking your dog for frequent checkups is necessary and can be useful in determining other diseases apart from whipworms.
What Causes Whipworms In Dogs?
Whipworms are majorly contacted through ingestion of infected substances or contaminated water. These parasites are known to transmit eggs through your dog’s stool.
The eggs have great survival mechanisms the fact that they are resistant to heat or drying. They will mature to an infective stage once laid. They will then be passed to the environment and can infect your dog in a period between ten to sixty days.
After ingestion, they move to the small intestine where they hatch and mature. Later, they migrate to the large intestine completing their cycle.
How to Treat Whipworms In Dogs?
If you notice any changes in behavior in your dog, the best way is to visit your vet for checkups. The early symptoms indicate the levels of infection. It is always important to provide treatment before the condition worsens.
A fecal flotation test is usually carried out to diagnose whipworms. During this test, the large whipworm eggs do not float easily in the liquid mixture compared to other types of parasitic infections.
A veterinarian can perform an ultrasound in situations where your dog experiences an inflammation of the gut.
After the conductive gel is applied on your dog’s belly, the vet will move the imaging wand around their abdomen. It is effective in indicating cases of dilation or inflammation in the intestines.
In severe cases, the vet may suggest further examinations such as the CT and MRI scans. Once a thorough diagnosis has been performed, the next procedure is offering treatment.
The anti-parasitic agent is a primary treatment for whipworms and is taken orally in the form of a pill. Some of the standard and efficient products used include the Milbemycin, Oxantel, and Fenbendazole.
Despite the fact that the symptoms may show some signs of improvement after giving antibiotics, it is always necessary to complete the full course of treatment.
Prescription of anti-inflammatory drugs can control swelling and capability of absorption. It is often essential in cases where the irritation and inflammation of the digestive tract are persistent even after administering the initial treatment.
In situations where your dog is anemic or has been weakened severely by the infestation, additional supportive actions such as iron supplements and IV fluids may be necessary.
The vet in this video explained the info of whipworms and things you should know about:
How Can I Prevent Whipworms In Dogs?
Most vets usually recommend taking preventive measures rather than waiting till the infection has become severe. You can prevent your dog from acquiring the whipworm infestation by removing the feces regularly in the compound or yard.
Unlike other intestinal parasites, diagnosing of whipworms is a little complicated. The best way of ensuring your dog is safe from parasitic infection is visiting the vet annually for a few tests.
Conducting a proper fecal examination test is one of the ways you can determine the presence of the intestinal parasites in your dog’s system. It is also useful in identifying other types of worms such as hookworms or heartworms.
The vet also prescribes products that are safe and efficient in treating and controlling the infections. Scheduling appointments with your vet are necessary to determine the progress of your dog’s health.
After the initial treatment of whipworms, it is advisable to visit the veterinarian after two or four weeks. They can perform other tests or screen to determine any traces of surviving parasites.