Whipworms in Dog Feces

(Trichuris vulpis) Smaller than other parasitic worms (roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms) that typically range in 30-50 mm, this worm grows to about 2 full inches.  This particular worm is not often seen as it lives in the cecum.  The cecum is the area where the large intestines and the small intestines meet in the dogs digestive tract.

This is the point where the parasite feeds, as well as, lay its eggs.  The eggs embedded in the hosts stool is then passed to the outside world.  In the outside world, the eggs need a few weeks for embryos to form and be capable to infect a new host.  This meaning that fresh feces is not infectious, but rather the soil.

While Fido lay on the dirt, he is matting eggs into his fur.  He then continues to groom himself with his tongue and ingests the eggs.  Once inside Fido’s small intestine, the eggs hatch and release larva.  The larva then find refuge for a week in local tissue to develop.  After a week of development, they float downstream to the cecum or large intestine to attach for a permanent home.

Whipworms typically do not pose much of a threat to its host unless a very large number is present.  In large numbers, they can cause inflammation and bloody diarrhea.  The blood loss isn’t enough to cause problems, but dehydration from chronic diarrhea can be a problem.

Most common deworming products do not take care of whipworm, you need a specific agent to combat the parasite. Fenbendazole is an agent which will kill the parasites.  Since the maturation cycle is so long for these worms, it is recommended that you perform a second deworming about 75 days after your first.

Just to note, soil contaminated by this parasite stays contaminated for years.  The best way to combat this spreading is to keep your yard clean of dog feces.

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