Whipworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
What Are Whipworms?
Whipworms, scientifically known as Trichuris vulpis, are one of the most common intestinal parasites in dogs, along with tapeworms, hookworms, and roundworms. These one-quarter-inch-long organisms live in the cecum and colon (large intestine), where they attach to the mucosal lining. In large numbers, whipworms can cause serious complications, despite their small size.
Whipworms get their name from their shape. They have a thick anterior end and a long, thin, posterior end that resembles a whip. The thicker end embeds itself in the intestinal wall as the worms mature, causing irritation and discomfort.
How Do Dogs Get Whipworm?
Dogs become infected with whipworms by swallowing infective whipworm eggs in soil or other substances that may contain dog feces.
How Are Whipworms Treated?
If your dog has a whipworm infestation, you will need the intervention of your veterinarian to clear it up. Thanks to the hardiness of their eggs, which can last for up to five years in the right environment, whipworms have a high level of reinfection, making them hard to get rid of.
Your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-worm medication to kill the parasites in your dog’s system and help alleviate his symptoms. There are several common anti-worm medications that are effective in treating whipworms, including febantel, fenbendazole, milbemycin, moxidectin, and oxantel. In addition to medication, a thorough cleansing of kennel areas and runs, when possible, and eliminating moist areas can help destroy whipworm eggs in the environment.
Some heartworm medications can also control infections, which is why regular parasite preventatives are the best way to treat and prevent whipworm infections and reinfections in the future.
Understanding Hookworms in Dogs – American Kennel Club
What Are Hookworms?
Hookworms in dogs, scientifically known as “Ancylostoma caninum” or “Ancylostoma braziliense,” are intestinal parasites that literally hook themselves into the lining of your dog’s intestines. They are named for their hook-like mouthpieces, which they use to attach themselves to the intestinal wall and to feed off of the tiny blood vessels in the intestinal lining. Despite their small size, only 3 millimeters in length, this feeding practice can lead to severe anemia.
What Causes Hookworms in Dogs?
There are four ways dogs can get this unpleasant parasite:
- Oral ingestion
- Direct contact with the skin
- In utero
- Through the bitch’s milk
Dogs accidentally ingest the larvae by sniffing or eating contaminated soil or feces. They can also ingest larvae by grooming their paws or by drinking contaminated water, and larvae can burrow into the skin of unsuspecting dogs if the dog lies on contaminated soil.
Mothers pass lots of good traits on to their pups. They can also pass along hookworms. The larvae infect the puppies either in the uterus or through the bitch’s milk when the puppies nurse. This is concerning, as hookworms can lead to severe anemia in puppies, which can be fatal.
Treating Hookworms in Dogs
Treating hookworms in dogs requires the intervention of a veterinarian who can prescribe your dog with a dewormer, or anthelmintic. These drugs are usually oral and come with few side effects, but they only kill the adult hookworms. This means that your vet will probably recommend treating your dog again in two-to-four weeks to eliminate any new adults that formed from the surviving larvae. In rare cases, your dog might require a blood transfusion to help combat severe anemia.
Tapeworms in Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, & Prevention
What are Tapeworms?
Tapeworms are an intestinal parasite. Along with roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm, this flat, segmented worm is found in dogs, cats, humans, and many other species around the world. The most common tapeworm species is Dipylidium Caninum. The medical term for a tapeworm infestation is Cestodiasis.
How Do Dogs Get Tapeworms?
There is a cycle through which dogs get tapeworms:
- First, the dog will ingest a host that is harboring tapeworm eggs, most often an adult flea. There are a few ways a dog might ingest a flea, such as self-grooming, or grooming a canine or feline housemate. Other animals that are potential transmitters of eggs include birds, rabbits, or rodents, which even a well-fed dog might scavenge for.
- Once digested, the tapeworm eggs settle into your dog’s small intestine. There it will develop into an adult.
- The adult tapeworm is made up of lots of small segments, each about the size of a grain of rice, called proglottids. Adult tapeworms usually measure anywhere from four to 28 inches in length.
- As the tapeworm matures inside the dog’s gut, these segments break off and end up in the dog’s stool. Since these segments contain tapeworm eggs, the cycle will begin again, with a new host and most likely a new recipient.
Treatment of Tapeworms in Dogs
A prescription drug called praziquantel is used to treat tapeworms, either orally or by injection. The medication causes the tapeworm to dissolve within the intestine. The drug generally does not have adverse side effects.
Other medications that are effective at removing tapeworms include chewables, granuals that are sprinkled on food, and tablets. There are also combination parasite medications that treat tapeworm, hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm in one.
Symptoms and Treatment of Roundworms in Dogs
What are roundworms?
- Roundworms are extremely common parasites in dogs. Almost all dogs have roundworms at some point in their lives—most often in puppyhood.
- There are two main species of roundworms affecting dogs: Toxocara canis and Toxascaris leonine. Toxocara canis causes more serious disease and can be transmitted to humans.
Adult roundworms live in the dog’s intestinal tract, where they feed on partially digested food. The worms can cause malnourishment, which can be especially of concern in a small puppy. Younger dogs are especially vulnerable to roundworms because their immune systems are not fully mature yet and they aren’t able to fight off the adult worms as effectively as an adult dog can.
How dogs get roundworms
- From their mother. It’s very common for puppies to be born with roundworms, as the larvae are often transmitted from the mother just before birth or through nursing.
- From the environment. Puppies and dogs can become infected with roundworms by accidentally ingesting eggs from the environment—the eggs can be present in soil or on plants or other objects.
- From eating infected animals. Roundworm eggs can also be carried by small animals such as rodents, earthworms, birds, and some insects. These animals are not the roundworm’s normal host, so in these species the egg never matures—but if a dog eats an infected animal, the egg can activate and grow into a roundworm once inside the dog.
Roundworm treatment and prevention
- Your vet can provide a quality dewormer that will safely and effectively get rid of the worms.
- Your vet can provide a monthly heartworm medication for your dog that will also include ingredients to prevent and control roundworms on a continuing basis.
Be sure to talk with your vet for expert information on roundworms and any concerns you may have regarding the health and well-being of your puppy or dog.
Other Intestinal Bad Guys
Coccidia are especially dangerous to puppies who pick it up from their dam or littermates. It can be fatal if left untreated and, at best, it severely compromises the health of pup- pies. Taking a stool specimen to the veterinarian should be routine anytime puppies have problems so that proper medication can be administered.
Spirochetes can be found in both the intestinal tract and the blood. They are responsible for such dreaded diseases as syphilis and Lyme disease, as well as disruption to the gut.
Giardia are among the most wide- spread of all protozoa and are found throughout the world. Unseen by the human eye, these little devil germs are everywhere. They are found in soil, food, and water, and live in the intestines of humans as well as dogs.
Routine fecal exams are your best defense in being proactive to keep your canine companion free from uninvited guests. Not all dogs are symptomatic, so it’s not safe to assume your dog is clear, just because their stool has a normal appearance. Talk to your veterinarian about the recommended fecal exam interval, based on your dogs environment and lifestyle.