Intestinal parasites are a big problem for dogs. You may already know that your dog could get tapeworms, but tapeworms aren't the only worm of concern to dogs. Dogs are also at risk of whipworms. Here are three things dog owners need to know about whipworms.
What are the signs of whipworms?
Whipworms are thin worms that look like threads. These worms live in your dog's large intestine, and they may be expelled in their feces. If you examine your dog's feces closely, you may be able to see the adult worms, but since few worms are expelled, you may not notice them. Your veterinarian can examine your dog's fecal samples—or multiple samples—with a microscope to see if whipworms or their eggs are present.
Diarrhea can occur as a result of whipworms. This diarrhea can be bloody, and it should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Remember that diarrhea can lead to dehydration, so make sure your dog is getting lots of water to drink. The whipworm infection can also lead to anemia—a lack of red blood cells—which can make your dog lethargic.
How do whipworms spread?
Whipworms spread through the fecal-oral route, like other types of intestinal parasites. Infected animals release whipworm eggs in their feces, which contaminate other objects. Food, water, or soil can be contaminated with this feces, and when your dog ingests these contaminated objects, they will become infected as well. Your dog will expel whipworms in their feces, and the life cycle will continue.
How are whipworms treated?
Your vet will prescribe an appropriate deworming medication for your dog. This medication will kill the whipworms that are living inside them. If your dog is dehydrated from their diarrhea, the vet may give them intravenous fluids.
It's important to clean up any feces in your yard to keep your dog from getting re-infected when they come home from the vet's office. Whipworm eggs can survive in the soil for years, so it's also a good idea to treat your soil. If your dog only goes to the bathroom in a designated area of your yard, removing the top few inches of soil is an easy way to clean up. If your dog has free reign of the yard, the yard can be treated with food grade diatomaceous earth or agricultural lime. Hard surfaces, like concrete patios, can be disinfected with diluted bleach.
If you think your dog has contracted whipworms, take them to a vet. You can find a vet by visiting a site like http://www.1stPetVet.com.