Trichuris vulpis
Whip worms are intestinal parasites that are common in dogs.
The medical term for a whip worm infestation is "trichuriasis".
Whip worms reach a maximum size of 2-3 inches.
They have a thin, whip-like front and a thicker back end.
They attach to the walls of the large intestine, feeding on blood.
Most infections are mild,  
but heavier whip worm infections can cause health problems in dogs.

The Whip worm Life Cycle
Whip worms have a simplistic life cycle.
Whip worm eggs are passed in the feces, and under ideal conditions
they become actively after 2-4 weeks outside of the host.
The eggs are then ingested (during a dogs self grooming, or eating things off the ground),
and hatch in the small intestine.
Eventually the larvae move to the large intestine,
it takes about 11 weeks for them to become mature and capable of producing more eggs,
which then pass from the host animal to the environment.
The eggs can survive for years outside the host.
Whip worm infestation is more common in older dogs than puppies.

Signs and Symptoms of Whip worms
In dogs with light infections, there are usually no symptoms.
As infections get heavier, inflammation of the large intestine occurs,
and the following symptoms may appear:
Weight loss
Mucous or blood in stool
Anemia (pale gums, weakness) can be seen with chronic, heavy infections
Rarely, infections can cause a syndrome similar to Addison's disease,
with periodic episodes of weakness and electrolyte imbalance.
Diagnosis of Whip worms
In early stages the eggs of whip worms can be seen by a vet or tech
under the microscope in a check of a stool sample (the test process is called fecal flotation).
Female whip worms only produce eggs intermittently,
so the eggs can be difficult to catch on fecal tests.
Repeat teats are required, and if a whip worm infection is suspected
it is common to treat for whip worms even if eggs aren't found.

Treating Whip worms
There are a number of medications that can be used to treat whip worms,
and your vet can help you pick the one right for your dog
(They are resistant to some common de-wormers).
Repeated treatments are usually recommended for best results
(After 3 weeks and 3 months).
Because the eggs survive for so long, the potential for re-infections
from eggs in the environment is significant.
Your vet may recommend a monthly parasite preventative
effective for whip worms to prevent whip worm infections on an ongoing basis.

If you have a pregnant dog you think maybe infected, consult a vet for advice.
Never use an over the counter de-wormer on a pregnant dog.

Keep pet wastes picked up, prevent your dog from eating rodents,
carcasses, or other animals.
Keep your pet from ingesting fecal matter.
Do not take your dog in areas where other dogs or animals are allowed to roam or play, if at all possible.
(This suggestion alone prevents a lot more then just internal parasite infestations.)
Have your animal on a preventive medication (A veterinarian dispenses these)
Have your dog on a regular de worming schedule especially in high infestation areas
(Southern climates)
Become aware of the types of internal parasites your dog may be exposed to
and practice responsible ownership by educating yourself
in order to help your dog live a healthy and parasite free life.

Human Animals & Whipworms
There have been rare and controversial reports of people being infected with dog whip worms.
However, animal whip worms are not considered a significant human health risk
(Humans animals have their own species of whip worm).

John A Sampson I
K9 Training
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Larvae of whip worm
Dog Whip Worms
Intestine infected with whip worms
Whip worms
Close up of whip worms
Examination of whip worms
Extracted whip worms
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