Whipworms in Dogs

Learn about whipworms in dogs and how they’re spread.

Whipworms (Trichuris vulpis) are intestinal parasites that live in the cecum (where the large and small intestine meet) and colon of infected dogs. They often cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss in dogs.

How Do Dogs Get Whipworms?

Whipworm eggs are passed into the environment in the stool of an infected dog. There, they develop into an infective stage over the next 10-60 days. When another dog comes along and ingests that whipworm stage, either by snuffling directly on the ground or by getting the dirt on themselves and then licking it off, they get whipworms. A dog can also reinfect themselves with their own stool after they've been treated for whipworms.

What Are the Signs of Whipworm Infection in Dogs?

Whipworms dig their heads into their host's intestinal tract and suck blood. Because of that, they can cause lots of inflammation in the dog's intestines, resulting in diarrhea with mucus, bloating, cramps, and gas.

If a dog has a small whipworm load, she might not show any signs of it. However, with a large load, diarrhea is likely, vomiting and weight loss are possible, and even anemia from blood loss might occur. Signs of anemia include weakness, pale gums, and collapse. Anemia as a result of whipworm infection is most common in puppies.

Diagnosis of Whipworms in Dogs

Whipworms can be diagnosed under a microscope during a fecal flotation test. However, sometimes, there are not very many eggs present, and they can't be seen. If your veterinarian suspects intestinal parasites might be causing diarrhea or other signs of illness in your dog, but the fecal sample is negative, he or she might use a general dewormer and/or recommend a repeat fecal test on another sample.

Treatment of Canine Whipworms

Most general dewormers don't kill whipworms, so if your dog is diagnosed with whips or your veterinarian suspects their presence, a special dewormer will be prescribed. The medication will need to be repeated at intervals, and in the meantime, you should clean up your dog's stool immediately after he passes it to minimize the chances of whipworm eggs contaminating your yard, where your dog can continually reinfect herself.

Some heartworm and flea and tick preventatives also contain medication which will continually deworm your dog for whipworms when she takes it every month. Check with your veterinarian to determine the best medication regimen for your particular dog.

Whipworms are not zoonotic, which means you and your family can't catch them from your dog. However, other intestinal parasites like roundworms are contagious to humans, so always keep your dog's stool cleaned up and practice good hygiene and teach it to your children.

You May Also Like These Articles:

Fecal Testing for Dogs

Roundworms in Dogs

Hookworms in Dogs

Dog Worms: Canine Intestinal Parasites

4 Tips to Avoid Getting Intestinal Parasites from Your Dog

Which Insect Repellants Are Safe for Your Dog?

Bothersome Bugs for Dogs

Flea Control for Dogs


Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.