Not all deworming medicines kill whipworms in dogs and if you think that your dog’s monthly heartworm medication has got you covered, think again. Not all heartworm medicine kills whipworms in dogs. Whipworms in dogs are one of the most difficult parasites to get rid of, they are one of the most common causes of chronic large bowel diarrhea in dogs and they are not easy to detect. Following is some information on whipworms in dogs and a list of what medicine kills whipworms in dogs.
Whipworms in Dogs
Whipworms, scientifically known as thrichuris vulpis, are parasites that live in a dog’s large intestine (the cecum and colon). Their name derives from the fact that these parasites are shaped like a small whip.
Whipworms in dogs are known for causing chronic large bowel diarrhea. Affected dogs may develop diarrhea with blood, diarrhea with mucus, and straining, producing only a few drops of diarrhea (tenesmus). Some dogs may also develop loss of appetite, abdominal pain and weight loss.
At times, dogs may develop a sudden onset of symptoms, which may resemble an Addisonian crisis. Affected dogs may become dehydrated, anemic, weak and may show altered values in their blood work (eg. low levels of sodium, high levels of potassium etc). Not all dogs with whipworms though show signs, and therefore some dogs may be asymptomatic.
How do dogs get whipworms? All it takes is being exposed to infective whipworm eggs which may be found on the soil where other dogs or wild animals have defecated a few weeks prior. If you walk your dog in an area inhabited by foxes and coyotes, consider that both these animals are hosts for this parasite and therefore can transmit whipworms in dogs, explains Dr. Bowman, who teaches veterinary parasitology at Cornell University.
Whipworms are one of the hardiest parasites out there. Courtesy of their thick outer shell, whipworm eggs are capable of surviving even freezing temperatures or scorching heat. They also have quite lengthy lifespans, often surviving in the soil many years (even up to seven!).
To make things further challenging, whipworm eggs are not always shed in a dog’s feces. Because the eggs are shed intermittently, this makes their detection at times challenging. Dogs may therefore have these worms despite undergoing a fecal test with the result of “no traces of parasites found.”