We never get tired of watching our pet’s hygiene, we want our dog to live and grow healthy. But we also want you to develop freely and enjoy spaces where you share your adventures with other dogs, and even get distracted by wild animals. The hygienic-sanitary conditions and overcrowding in these spaces will determine the risk of the existence of parasites that can infest and pose a risk to our pets.
It is practically unlikely to avoid the existence of the whipworm, of the family of gastrointestinal nematodes ( Trichuris vulpis ), being able to be present in the soil, abandoned food, water, as well as in the feces and meat of infected animals. The curiosity, innate in our friends, will lead them to sniff droppings of other animals, eat food scraps and drink water that is not supervised. It is then that curiosity betrays them and unprotects them before this parasite that manages to enter their body through the mouth and look, mainly, at the mucosa of their large intestine (blind and colon).
The whipworms, disease caused by a parasitic nematode, is a disease whose severity depends on the number of worms that can be ingested or are developed within your body. The disease can cause blood loss and lead to chronic or even fatal disease if it is not treated in time.
Who is the whipworm and how does it infect my dog?
Adult female worms release eggs from inside the intestine of an infected animal. The eggs are evacuated with fecal matter, being very resistant to the environment, and can survive in the environment for at least 5 years.
The larvae begin their life after hatching the eggs inside the feces deposited on the ground by a contaminated animal. These infective larvae penetrate our dog by direct ingestion of water, food or by licking contaminated objects. It is a small worm, between 3 and 5 centimeters, with a rounded silhouette and a characteristic whip shape, thin on the front and thick on the back (mango shape). The worm will lodge in the mucosa of the large intestine and begin to suck blood. The infected dog will not only suffer from the disease but will also act as the originator of the life cycle that the worm needs, finally excreting the eggs with its feces.
How can I suspect that the disease is present?
Generally, whipworms affect both puppies and adult dogs. The infection that originates from the whipworm can go unnoticed if the parasite is present in small amounts. But it can be especially complex if the amount is large since it can trigger an inflammatory reaction of the mucosa, and occasional hemorrhages, which if it reaches a chronic stage can cause the formation of adhesions between the blind and the peritoneum. Therefore, if we detect any symptoms, we must go to our veterinarian to examine the parasite in the stool.
The most notable and common symptoms of this disease are:
- Diarrhea, which may be accompanied by blood
- Presence of blood in the stool
- Weight loss and physical weakening
What is the best prevention?
The control and treatment of these parasites are based on the use of antiparasitic treatments, which depending on the degree of infection risk should be applied with one frequency or another.
Sometimes, and if different dogs and animals coexist in the same area, the soil must be changed and replaced, to minimize the risk and the presence of possible whipworm eggs.
Other measures may be disinfecting cages and shared booths, leaving no food or water unattended, collecting excrement as soon as possible, etc.