Bird Dogs & Training  |  11/16/2017

Whipworms: The Pesky Parasites


Whipworms suck essential nutrients from your dog's intestines. Here's how to get rid of whipworms, and keep them out of your dog.

Whipworms are annoying little parasites that live in your dog’s intestines, sucking important nutrients from your pet. The most frustrating aspect of managing whipworms is that the eggs can live up to five years in your yard, even when your dog is free of whipworms. This means he can easily become reinfected again. 
Luckily, whipworms are treatable parasites. Arming yourself with information and talking to your veterinarian are the first steps to actively managing and employing deworming measures to protect your dog from complications associated with whipworm infestations. 

Facts about whipworm

Trichuris vulpis is the species of whipworm that affects dogs and other canines such as foxes and coyotes. This type of worm is named for the whip-like appearance of its body, which has a thicker head that tapers into a thinner tail. The worms are less than 3 inches long with most of the length in the “lash” portion of the worm.  
Because the eggs are very resistant in the environment large numbers of infective eggs can easily accumulate. Coyotes and foxes can also be infected with the canine whipworm and contaminate the environment. 
Dogs are infected when they swallow infective eggs. When the eggs hatch the developing larvae live in the mucosa of the small intestine for 2 to 10 days before migrating to the cecum (where the small and large intestine meet) for further maturation. The adult whipworms live primarily in the cecum feeding on tissue and blood.

Spot the signs of infection

Unfortunately, not all whipworm-infected dogs exhibit signs, but the worms are present and shedding eggs. Dogs with more severe infections typically show signs of bloody diarrhea, dehydration and weight loss. Severe infections can even cause death. 
Whipworm infections are diagnosed by finding parasite eggs during a veterinary fecal exam. Since whipworms pass small numbers of eggs on an irregular basis, fecal samples may be falsely negative. It may take multiple fecal examinations before the microscopic eggs are detected. 

Control and treatment

The infective whipworm eggs are resistant to environmental exposure and an important control measure is to promptly remove feces from yards and kennels where dogs defecate to reduce exposure to the infective embryonated eggs. Deworming your dog to reduce the number of eggs in the environment is also an important control step. 
Because most canine dewormers are not effective against whipworms, extra care must be taken when choosing a broad-spectrum dog dewormer. 
Safe-Guard® (fenbendazole) Canine Dewormer safely and effectively treats whipworms when used as directed. Safe-Guard® eliminates a variety of intestinal worms with only one compound, minimizing your dog’s chemical exposure. 
Safe-Guard® is effective against six species of the four major parasites found in dogs that spend a lot of time outside, including whipworms and Taenia tapeworms. The unique three-day dosing regimen works best to ensure that all four major types of parasites are treated safely and completely. 
Safe-Guard® is the only broad-spectrum canine dewormer with no warnings or contraindications. It is safe for:
Dogs of all breeds
Puppies (at least 6 weeks of age)
Pregnant females
Older dogs

Take-home message

Whipworms are tricky little pests, but it is possible to control them in your pet and the environment. For more information, talk to your veterinarian and visit

Consult your veterinarian for assistance in the diagnosis, treatment, and control of parasitism. Approximately 1% of dogs had vomiting associated with the use of this product. Safe-Guard Canine Dewormer has no known interactions and is an ideal complement to monthly heartworm prevention products, which may not protect against all four major types of intestinal worms.

Copyright © 2017 Intervet Inc., d/b/a Merck Animal Health, a subsidiary of Merck & Co., Inc.