Whipworms are worms of about 5-7 cm long that inhabit the large intestine of the dog. The front portion of the worm is long and threadlike, while the tail end is short and thick, giving the appearance of the handle of a whip. The thin anterior end of the worm is thrust deep into the lining of the large bowel.
The female worm lays eggs which, when viewed under the microscope, are barrel-shaped with very thick shells. This thick covering makes the eggs very resistant to temperature changes and in moist surroundings, the eggs may remain infective for very long periods.
When the egg is swallowed by the dog it hatches in the small intestine. The larvae coil up and complete their development in the lining of the intestinal wall before migrating to the large bowel.
The presence of large numbers of worms attached to the lining of the bowel can cause chronic diarrhea with bouts of abdominal pain and occasionally the passage of blood. Whipworms may also make the animal more prone to bacterial infections of the bowel.
What to do if my dog gets whipworms
Treatment is fortunately effective with such drugs as Canex Plus. Where whipworms are suspected, it is wise to have your veterinarian examine a feces sample from the suspected dog and other animals with which it is in contact.
All dogs should be treated at the same time and if possible put into clean surroundings. It is important to try to thoroughly clean up the area where the dogs have been running, as infective eggs passed out in the feces may remain infective for years in sheltered, moist areas of the yard.
Tapeworms, other than the hydatid tapeworm, are spectacular parasites and are fairly easily detected. The most common tapeworm in the dog and cat is Dipylidium caninum. One survey in Sydney revealed that 60 percent of dogs were infected and were carrying an average of 15 worms. When one considers that each worm can be up to 50cm long, it is remarkable that they seem to cause a few serious effects.
Eggs form within the end segments of tapeworm which break off and are passed in the feces or make their own way out of the anus of the dog by actively moving.
These eggs are then swallowed by the larvae of fleas. One larva may consume a number of eggs which develop into small cysts within the flea. Dogs become infected when they swallow a flea containing these infective cysts, which then develop within the dog’s intestine to become adult tapeworms.
An infected dog may be detected by the presence of the cucumber-shaped segments of the tapeworm around its tail or in the feces. The dog may rub its anus on the ground, which may make the skin around the anus and under the tail inflamed.
Control of the tapeworm is achieved by dosing the dog with Droncit and by preventing reinfection by effectively controlling fleas.
Other large tapeworms infecting the dog are Taenia ovis and Taenia hydatigena.
These tapeworms are long and live in the small intestine of the dog. They seem to cause very few ill-effects and their importance lies in the fact that sheep, goats and cattle are the intermediate hosts. The presence of cysts in the carcass of these animals causes considerable wastage in the slaughterhouses.
Two other Taenia species infecting dogs have the rabbit as their intermediate host. The cysts in the intestinal cavity or in the muscles of the rabbit are often mistakenly thought to be hydatid tapeworm cysts. Dogs become infected by eating the offal or the uncooked flesh of the rabbit.