Whipworm
Symptoms,
Prevention & Treatment

Whipworms in Dogs

Whipworms are an important intestinal parasite of dogs and can cause serious disease. It is important to be familiar with the symptoms of a whipworm infestation, how it can be treated and how to protect your dog.  

What are whipworms? 

Canine whipworms, or Trichuris vulpis, are a species of intestinal worm specific to dogs and other canids (e.g. foxes). The canine species of whipworm does not typically affect humans, although there have been very rare reports of human infection. Humans have their own species of whipworm, Trichuris trichiura.
Whipworms are named for their characteristic whip-shaped body, with a thin front end and a thick back end. Adult whipworms are approximately 3-5 cm in length and live in the large intestine of dogs. 
 

Whipworm (Trichuris vulpis)

Whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) male

 

What causes whipworms in dogs? 

Dogs become infested with whipworms by ingesting whipworm eggs from a contaminated environment. Whipworm eggs are very resilient in the environment, remaining viable for years even under extreme environmental conditions.

 

Whipworm life cycle in dogs 

The life cycle of the whipworm is relatively simple compared to some other intestinal worms. Adult whipworms in the large intestine of an infested dog mate and the females produce eggs which are passed in the faeces. Over a period of approximately 30 days, a larva develops inside the egg. New hosts are infested when they ingest an egg containing a larva. Within the gastrointestinal tract of the new host, the larvae are released where they continue to develop to adult worms, and the whipworm life cycle begins again.

 

Whipworms in puppies 

Whipworms in puppies

Whipworms can affect both puppies and adult dogs. Unlike some other intestinal worms, such as roundworm and hookworm, whipworm has been shown to be more common as dogs get older. Both puppies and adult dogs can develop symptoms which can sometimes be serious and, on rare occasions, even life threatening. 

 

Adult whipworms (Trichuris vulpis)

Adult whipworms (Trichuris vulpis)

Whipworm symptoms in dogs 

 

The potential signs of whipworms in dogs include:
 

  • Diarrhoea: Diarrhoea can be a symptom of many problems in dogs, and whipworm is one of them. 
  • Bloody diarrhoea: Whipworms live in the large intestine and can cause colitis which may lead to bloody diarrhoea. 
  • Weight loss: Weight loss may occur in dogs with untreated whipworm infestations. 

 

The symptoms of a bad whipworm infestation in dogs can be severe – always consult your vet if you are concerned about any signs your dog develops. Some dogs may have whipworm but show no obvious symptoms.  


It is not usually possible to see adult whipworms in dog stools. To diagnose whipworm, your vet will perform a microscopic examination of a faecal sample to look for eggs.    

 

Whipworm treatment for dogs 

 

It’s always best to talk to your vet if you think your dog may require treatment. Treatment of whipworm in dogs involves administering a deworming product that is effective against whipworm, such as NexGard SPECTRA® or ParaGard®. In severe infestations dogs may need to be hospitalised for supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids. 

 

Whipworm prevention 

 

Regular deworming with a product effective against whipworm, such as NexGard SPECTRA or ParaGard, will help to protect your dog.  

 

  • NexGard SPECTRA: protects against intestinal worms, including whipworm, as well as heartworm, fleas, ticks and mites, all in one tasty monthly chew. 
  • ParaGard: a liver flavoured broad-spectrum dewormer that treats and controls a range of intestinal worms, including whipworm. 
     

 

FAQs


1.    How did my dog get whipworms?
Dogs become infested with whipworm by ingesting microscopic eggs from a contaminated environment (e.g. a dog park). 
 

2.    What are the symptoms of whipworms in dogs?
Whipworms are a parasite of the large intestine. The symptoms of whipworms in dogs can include watery or bloody diarrhoea, weight loss and lethargy. 

3.    Can whipworm kill a dog?
In severe cases with high numbers of worms, whipworm infestations can be fatal. It is important to deworm your dog regularly with a product that is effective against whipworm, such as NexGard SPECTRA® or ParaGard®.  
 

4.    Can dogs pass whipworms to other dogs? 
Adult female whipworms in the large intestine of an infested dog produce eggs which are passed in the faeces. Another dog can then become infested by ingesting the microscopic eggs from a contaminated environment (e.g. a dog park). 

 

PET-0216-2021

Disclaimer

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