Whipworm Transmission In Dogs

Lacy has whipworms.

Lacy has whipworms.
Lacy has whipworms.

One look at Lacy and you might be inclined to say that Lacy can have anything she wants! Actually, she falls into the category of a gentle giant. In fact, she’s more than a little timid when she comes into our hospital.

Lacy had a birthday yesterday. It was her 8th. If you know about the aging process of giant breeds of dogs you know that she has already lived most of her life expectancy.

Don’t tell Lacy that, however.

The same Lacy who takes Rimadyl, Dasuquin and Adequan injections for arthritis still likes to rule her home and yard.

And neighborhood.

For her eighth birthday party she decided she would dig under the chain-link fence and go visiting. There is still a lot of steam in the old girl.

During our routine preventive care visit we discovered Trichuris vulpis eggs in the fecal flotation test we performed on her stool. How does an aging, mostly stay-at-home pooch contract whipworms?

Several ways are possible.

Lacy sometimes goes on walks in the neighborhood. If she were to come into physical contact with ground contaminated by another dog’s whipworm eggs, those eggs could be ingested and enter the body to complete their life cycle.

Several of Lacy’s neighbors have pets. Sadly, not all dogs get the level of care Lacy enjoys, and if one of them is infected with T. vulpis, and their yard drains into Lacy’s, parasites from their stool could infect Lacy’s yard, then Lacy.

Wild animals, including birds, can spread parasites from location to location. Many birds like to forage in manure and can thus carry parasites for great distances.

Fortunately, medication is readily available to rid Lacy of these intestinal worms and should it become a repetitive problem we can change her heartworm preventive to one (Interceptor or Sentinel) that also prevents intestinal parasites.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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