Whipworms in dogs
Health and Medical June 13, 2016
The Parasite that Can’t be Killed?
It’s always daunting when we have to take our precious pooches to the vet and you hear the words, “Your dog has intestinal worms.” As dog owners, we strive on a daily basis to keep our pets safe. Not too long ago, a friend had to take her precious German Shepherd to the vet. They said he had Whipworms. She had never heard of Whipworms, but her vet assured her the medication would clear them up. Three weeks later the Whipworms were not gone. Once again, the vet sent them home with a strong wormer. On the third visit, in which the worms were still there, my friend decided to try a second opinion. She took her big boy to another vet, and this one also confirmed Whipworm. However, this vet told my friend something completely different. She told my friend that Whipworms are hard to get rid of, and that once they are in your yard, nothing can kill them. My friend couldn’t believe it! How could this be?
Eventually, my friend learned that while they can be killed, they are extremely hardy. Whipworms are called just that because of the shape of their body. They have a round flat head with a whip like tail/body, but they cannot be seen by the naked eye. They love to live in the small intestine of a canine, and they are not usually dangerous to humans. They are, however, extremely annoying pests. They enter the canine host by being eaten!
So, why did the veterinarian say they can’t be killed? Because once a yard is infected, there’s almost no way to get rid of them. While the dogs have to eat the eggs to become infected, that’s not a very difficult accomplishment. It only takes one time of a dog going out into a yard and eating something on the ground: grass, feces, or even licking its own paws, to become infected. The shell of the egg is thick and brown. They can be susceptible to drying out or extreme sunlight, but the eggs have an extreme resistance to freezing temperatures and water/ice. This is why they are considered to be a parasite that cannot be gotten rid of.
While your yard may be difficult to rid of whipworms and their eggs, your dog’s body is not. Most vets will prescribe even an over the counter wormer. You will also need to replace everything your dog chews on for fun. Rawhides, bones, toys, and other chews need to be replaced as well. If your dog has an outside pen for spending time outside, it will need to be moved to new ground and away from the egg-infested ground. If the area cannot be moved, then a monthly dewormer, that is constantly keeping your dog’s body clear of worms, will be needed. There are also mild daily wormers that can be given to a dog to keep whipworm out of a dog’s system.
- Whipworms is also known as Trichuris vulpis and Trichuris campanula