Whipworms are also known as Trichuris vulpis and the adult worms are usually found in the cecum which is part of the large intestine. The attach themselves to the intestinal wall. The eggs are passed in the feces and are infective in around four weeks. In ideal conditions, the eggs can stay dormant in the environment for several years unless the dry out. After infective eggs are ingested, the larvae develop in the small intestine and migrate to the cecum which is where the adults mature. It is more common for an adult dog to have a whipworm infection, particularly those in kennels. Mild infections can occur without symptoms, but as the number of worms present increases, the cecum may become inflamed which will cause weight loss and diarrhea. In heavy infections, there may be fresh blood in the feces and the animal may have anemia.
As the eggs take around a month to become infective, good sanitation can control whipworms easily. It is important to quickly remove and properly dispose of the feces. Whipworms can dry out so a clean, dry environment can reduce the risk of infection. Kennels should have concrete floors and not dirt as concrete will be easier to keep clean and dry. There is a variety of drugs available to treat whipworm infection and some drugs which are administered monthly are available to prevent infections with other parasites. The veterinarian will recommend one appropriate for the individual dog.
Tapeworms are also known as cestodes and there are several types which can infect dogs. It is rare for tapeworm to cause serious disease. They are segmented worms which are in the intestines. Urban dogs eat prepared foods and do not have a lot of access to natural prey. They can acquire a tapeworm known as Dipylidium caninum from eating fleas. Suburban, rural and hunting dogs have much more access to natural prey, raw meat and the offal of large mammals. Therefore, they can be exposed to more and different tapeworm than their urban counterparts. The most common seen species in these dogs are Taenia and Echinonoccus granulosus. There are other species of tapeworm that can infect dogs including Diphyllobothrium species, Mesocestoides species and Spirometra mansonoides. The symptoms are dependent on the type of worm involved but can include malaise, colic, mild diarrhea, irritability, inability to digest and absorb food properly, changes in appetite and a shaggy coat. It is possible that a dog with a mild infection will not exhibit any symptoms. In rare cases, there may be intussusception, seizure or emaciation. Tapeworms are diagnosed by the presence of eggs or segments of the worm in the feces, or tapeworm segments or eggs on the hair around the anus.
The control of tapeworms requires preventative medication and treatment for infection. As Dipylidium caninum can cycle through fleas even dogs who are confined can become infected. Flea control is extremely important to prevent whipworm infection. Even indoor dogs can have fleas so they will also need to be treated. Free roaming dogs can become reinfected by eating dead animals or prey animals. Preventing this will limit the dog’s exposure ti other species of tapeworm. An accurate diagnosis of the species of tapeworms involved will mean that the veterinarian can provide more effective advice on the treatment of the infection and preventing reinfection.
Flukes are a type of parasite which can infect dogs and other animals. They are also known as trematodes.
Intestinal flukes in small numbers do not cause illness. Large numbers of intestinal flukes can cause the intestines, particularly the small intestine, to become inflamed. There are several anti-parasitic medications which can be used to treat intestinal flukes. The risk of intestinal fluke infection varies depending on the location so the owner should consult the veterinarian about preventative programs.
Flukes infection in the bile duct and gallbladder can cause mild to severe liver disease, also known as fibrosis. The species of liver fluke will depend on which part of the world the animal lives in. Infections are not common but can occur. Mild infections may have no symptoms and pass without any notice. In a severe infection, the dog may have progressive weakness which can end with complete exhaustion and in some cases, death.