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Canine Whipworms
By: Tippy

Canine Whipworm, also known as Trichuris Vulpis, is a
parasite that infects the large intestine and cecum of dogs.
This parasite usually affects dogs over the age
of twelve weeks. The Whipworm looks like a stock whip and it
uses its mouth, which looks like a sword or spear, to slash
and puncture its way through the cecum and large intestine
to feed on the blood and tissues of the host.

The Whipworm can grow up to three inches in length and is
found all throughout North America. The Whipworm doesn't
feed on as much blood or tissue as the Hookworm but the
resulting blood loss and infection from the cuts can cause

Infection is spread through the feces of dogs that have been
infected by Whipworms. The eggs from the parasite travel
through the intestine and they don't hatch until being
ingested by another canine when it licks its paws or licks
the ground and so ingests the Whipworm eggs. The growth
cycle of a Whipworm takes about three months to completion.

Once the egg has been ingested it travels through the
digestive tract until it reaches the small intestine and
then it hatches and the larva attaches itself to the wall of
the dog's cecum or intestine. The Whipworm will remain there
anywhere from a couple of days to over a week, growing. They
it will detach itself and travel to the large intestine to
complete the growth process and become an adult Whipworm.

An adult female Whipworm can produce two thousand eggs per
day and the eggs can survive in the soil up to five years
until a dog comes along and ingests the eggs. The Whipworm
lifespan can range from five to sixteen months. From egg to
adult the Whipworm takes about three months to mature.
Unlike some other parasitic worms the Whipworm does not
migrate anywhere to complete the growth cycle it stays in
the canine's intestine.

In a many cases of Whipworm infection the dog may show
little to no signs that it is infested. There are exceptions
to this rule, however, in which severe infections occur from
the cuts produced by the Whipworm's feeding on the host. The
most common sign of a Whipworm infection, if the infestation
is bad enough, is worms and blood in the feces of the dog.
Otherwise bouts of smelly diarrhea are a common symptom.

Dogs that already have a compromised immune system or are
very young can suffer from severe infections resulting in
severe weight loss, dehydration and anemia. If the
infestation is bad enough it can cause death. When there is
a bad parasitic infestation of Whipworms they irritate the
lining of the intestines causing loss of weight and pain.
Whipworms are difficult to treat without special medication
to deworm the dog. Canine whipworms are easier to prevent.

Diagnosing Canine Whipworm

A lot of mucous is produced by the intestinal tissue that
has been irritated by whipworms. That is what causes the
common symptom of diarrhea. In some cases the inflammation
causes adhesions of the intestine to the body wall. Dogs
with this condition will often compulsively lick the spot
where the adhesion has occurred.

Usually whipworm is diagnosed by testing with fecal
flotation to identify the smooth-shelled, bipolar, plugged
eggs. However diagnosing whipworms is difficult because the
mature female whipworm produces eggs intermittently and
relatively few in compared to other parasites.

In dogs that are suffering infestation and have blood in
their stool it is harder to diagnose because finding the
eggs can be more difficult. The use of Zinc Sulfate is a
better and more reliable way to diagnose a whipworm
infection in canines than is fecal flotation.

In order to be sure that whipworms are not present in the
canine a minimum of four fecal exams should be conducted
over a four day period before a diagnosis is determined.
Because the female whipworm produces eggs intermittently,
infestation may not be diagnosed correctly. A follow-up exam
may become necessary in order to insure that there really
isn't a whipworm infection in your dog.

Dewormers given at two to three week intervals will not
control the immature stages of the parasite. Treatment must
be long term if it is to be successful. Unfortunately,
whipworm isn't very easily treated, as the chances of
reinfection from contaminated areas are very high.

Eggs of the whipworm parasite are thick shelled and are very
resistant and can remain in the contaminated area for up to
five years. Unless you take measures to clean infected areas
reinfection will most likely occur. But be aware that the
eggs are resistant to cleaning and disinfection methods.

Whipworm eggs are vulnerable to becoming dried out, but they
can remain alive through freezing and in moist soil for
years. Animals that have a problem with whipworm should be
kept away from contaminated areas as much as possible. There
isn't any effective method for killing whipworm eggs in the
environment. The only sure method for getting rid of the
whipworm eggs is to replace the soil, gravel, or other
ground materials.

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