Where are they located? Whipworms live in the cecum and colon of the dog.
What do they look like? Whipworm adults are 2-3 inches in length. The eggs are microscopic and cannot be seen without a microscope. Also, adults do not shed eggs persistently, so multiple fecal analyses may be needed to confirm an infection.
How is it Transmitted? Whipworm eggs are passed in the feces, and under ideal conditions, they can cause whipworm infections after about two to four weeks in the environment. The eggs are ingested (for example, when a dog is grooming itself or eating things off the ground) and hatch in the small intestine. Eventually, the larvae move to the large intestine, taking about 11 weeks to become mature and capable of producing more eggs, which then pass to the environment. The eggs can survive for years in the environment. Whipworms are more common in older dogs than puppies, but they can infect dogs of any age.
Symptoms: In dogs with light infections, there are usually no symptoms. As an infection intensifies, inflammation of the large intestine can result, and any of the following symptoms may appear: Weight loss, Diarrhea, Mucus or blood in the stool,
anemia (pale gums, weakness) can be seen with chronic, heavy infections.
Prevention/Treatment: Deworming medication is used to eliminate whipworm infections. However, some infections are resistant to medication and since the eggs can persist in the environment for years, multiple treatment cycles is common when treating whipworm infections.
Zoonotic: There have been rare and controversial reports of people being infected with canine whipworms. However, animal whipworms are not considered a significant human health risk.