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Adult whipworms, which actually look like little "whips", burrow into a dog's cecum (part of the large intestine) where they predispose them to loss of condition, diarrhea, and hemorrhagic colitis. Whipworm eggs can be microscopically identified in a dog's stool sample. These eggs, once passed in the feces, can re-infect a dog by being licked from the ground, grass, or paws. Once ingested, the whipworm egg grows into an adult worm in 2 to 3 months. At that time it becomes capable of releasing more eggs into the environment, starting a new cycle of parasitism or adding to a present worm burden in already infected dogs. The eggs can remain infective on and in the soil for up to five years and are very resistant to natural and chemical destruction. This explains why whipworms are notorious for re-infecting dogs. Because of this, we recommend the following steps to control them.
To eliminate the adult whipworms we routinely prescribe a medication that is extremely safe and 100% effective at killing the adult worms but not the younger forms. Two dewormings are necessary, with the second one being administered three weeks after the first to eliminate any adult worms that were developing at the time of the first deworming. To prevent re-infection, we recommend that dogs take a monthly heartworm and intestinal worm preventative. Taking this medication year-round (we already recommend this for heartworm prevention) should prevent further whipworm problems. To make sure this is the case, we recommend rechecking a stool for microscopic worm eggs in 4 to 6 months.
All dogs that have been with or frequented the same areas as an infected dog are at risk for having this parasite. Depending on their parasite control program, consideration should be given to having them monitored for this intestinal parasite.
Manchester Veterinary Clinic, Inc - Veterinarians - Manchester - CT - Trusted Vets For Your Pets