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Key takeaways

Whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) is a parasitic intestinal worm of dogs.

  • Whipworms live embedded in the lining of the large intestine
  • The worms are transmitted between hosts via ingestion of eggs passed in the feces, which can live -and continue to be contagious- in soil for years
  • Mild infections often have no symptoms, while severe infections can be fatal
  • Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and dehydration
  • Diagnosis involves physical examination and fecal examination or specialized fecal testing
  • Not all deworming medications are effective against whipworm, so choice of dewormer is crucial for treatment and prevention
  • Whipworm infection is cured by strategic deworming, but reinfection by ingesting contaminated soil is common
  • Prevention is by regular testing and deworming
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A closer look: Whipworms in Dogs

Whipworm infection is common in dogs, and many infections show no symptoms. Any time a dog is showing symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, prompt veterinary attention is required. Prognosis is good with appropriate deworming products and schedules.

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Risk factors

Many whipworm infections show no symptoms. In severe infections, whipworms can cause dehydration, anemia, and even death due to blood loss.

Possible causes

The cause of whipworm infection is ingestion of soil contaminated by the feces of another animal with whipworm. It is not transmitted by fresh feces, as the eggs take 2-4 weeks to mature before they are able to infect a new host. Eggs can survive in the environment for months to years.

Main symptoms

Testing and diagnosis

The first step to investigate symptoms of whipworm is a full physical examination. They may order blood work as well. Veterinarians test for the presence of microscopic eggs in feces by centrifugation and flotation. Since these tests frequently produce false negatives, multiple tests to detect whipworm proteins in feces may be used to confirm diagnosis.

Steps to Recovery

Deworming on an appropriate schedule is the treatment for whipworms. Even though a fecal test may be negative for eggs, It is common to deworm for whipworms if symptoms suggest whipworms. In severe cases, dogs may require IV fluids or other supportive care methods to stabilize them.

Treatment should be repeated at least twice at an interval of 75 days to achieve control. Alternatively, some sources suggest treating once monthly for 3 months.

Veterinary guidance should be followed for individual cases. It is not safe to deworm pets without professional assessment and recommendations. Most common deworming medications do not work on whipworms, so something specific must be chosen

Follow-up fecal examination is recommended to ensure the infection is cleared.

Whipworm infection can be cured quickly with the use of appropriate deworming. Reinfection is common due to the eggs’ longevity in the environment. Whipworms can live in the environment for months to years.


The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) recommends testing for intestinal parasites, including whipworms, at least four times in the first year of life, and at least two times per year in adults, depending on patient health and lifestyle factors. Treating adult pets four times a year with an appropriate broad-spectrum dewormer is the best preventive measure for whipworms.

Are Whipworms in Dogs common?

T. vulpis occurs in dogs worldwide. Whipworms are found in as many as 14.3% of shelter dogs sampled in the U.S. and 10% of dogs presented to veterinary teaching hospitals.

Typical Treatment

  • Deworming
  • Supportive care


No Author - Writing for Companion Animal Parasite Council
Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP - Writing for Veterinary Partner
Andrew S. Peregrine, BVMS, PhD, DVM, DEVPC, DACVM-Parasitology - Writing for Merck Veterinary Manual

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