A few weeks ago, I noticed that Sammie had dropped some worms with her stool at the dog park. They were small and white, so I figured they were tapeworms and told the vet about it at our next visit. She requested I bring a sample with me so they could verify before giving me any medication. When I visited my parents, I noticed a long worm hanging out of her, but by the time I got a bag to grab it, it was gone. Checking everyday, it wasn’t until yesterday (again at the dog park) that more worms appeared in her stool. I bagged it and when we left, dropped it off at the vet for a full fecal exam, which was only $15! I’m okay paying for that at least once a year to be sure our girl is in tip-top shape. Anyway, normally the exam only takes 15-30min., but they were so busy last night that they didn’t call until two and a half hours later. The diagnosis? Whipworm.
Whipworm infection occurs from a dog ingesting contaminated soil, water, or flesh, much like other intestinal parasites. Unlike other intestinal parasites, however, it can live in the soil for up to five years! Eradication is extremely difficult, so prevention by picking up after your pet is the best practice. They reside in your pet’s cecum (like the human appendix) where they feed on blood and tissue. It is less deadly than hookworm, and often has no symptoms. The most common symptoms are weight loss, shedding, and loose or bloody stools. Egg production is limited, so diagnosis is sometimes difficult.
I learned all that this morning when I was looking it up. She has been prescribed two and a quarter pills to take all at once to eradicate the hookworms, but I have to take another sample in to them in a couple weeks just to make sure. Gross.
I guess this is a great time to encourage you to be a responsible owner and pick up after your pets! Be sure and encourage others to do the same. You never know what could be left lurking in the ground…