Like many other parasites that dogs can be infected by, the whipworm can remain undetected until the infestation becomes severe enough to impact your dog’s quality of life.
Many dog owners who struggle with whipworm infections in their pups don’t want to rely on conventional drugs entirely to eradicate the infection. They instead choose to focus mainly on natural, holistic approaches to control whipworms.
Read on to find out more information about whipworms as well as how to holistically treat your dog for them.
What are whipworms and how do they infect dogs?
Whipworms are parasites that invade a dog’s cecum (the area where the small and large intestines meet), and if left untreated, spread to the colon. The whipworm is named after its shape, a whip-like form where the front is narrower than the back end. This type of parasite is long and slender and grows up to four inches in length.
Female whipworms can lay up to 2,000 eggs a day, and those eggs are thick-walled and resistant to drying and heat, meaning they can survive for extended periods of time in challenging environments.
Dogs can become infected with whipworms by ingesting whipworm eggs in the soil, or by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. After ingestion, the eggs migrate to the dog’s digestive system where the larvae hatch and burrow into the small intestine’s lining. The larvae attach themselves to the intestine and feed on the dog’s blood.
Between 2 and 10 days later, the larvae move into the cecum and grow into adult worms. Within 70 to 90 days, new eggs are shed through the dog’s feces. Whipworm eggs are not infectious at this stage. It takes several weeks of growth within the soil before the larvae are infective, and the whipworm life cycle can begin again.
What are the symptoms of whipworms in dogs?
It’s hard to know if your dog is infected with whipworms at first because there are virtually no symptoms of the infection until it becomes dangerous. Mild to moderate whipworm infestations may not show any outward symptoms at all. Most infestations are diagnosed by using a microscope to view a fecal sample.
When a whipworm infestation becomes serious enough, you may see any of the following symptoms in your dog:
Persistent, watery diarrhea (some blood may be visible in the stool)
In severe cases, whipworm infection can cause an inflammation of the intestinal wall. This action will cause a buildup of significant mucus in the intestine. Chronic colitis and hemorrhage within the intestine may occur, causing severe anemia, and in some cases, death.
What are some holistic methods of preventing and treating whipworm?
Some dog owners look to holistic approaches to prevent or resolve whipworm infections. These are some popular, natural methods to consider for a comprehensive approach to managing a parasitic infection.
#1. Give your dog a highly nutritious diet.
A balanced diet will keep your dog’s gastrointestinal tract healthy and resistant to whipworm infections. Add fruits and vegetables in appropriate amounts to your dog’s diet to boost vitamin and nutrition content.
#2. Try probiotics and digestive enzymes.
Probiotics help the body maintain healthy bacteria in the digestive system and strengthen your dog’s immune system. Digestive enzymes offer additional support to the immune system to prevent parasitic infections.
#3. Add trace minerals to your dog’s food.
Trace minerals play a major role in balancing the digestive system. Add a pinch of a trace mineral, such as authentic Himalayan pink salt or sea salt, at each of your dog’s meals.
#4. Use some seeds.
Raw, organic pumpkin seeds and black seeds or black cumin seeds are natural, safe ways of expelling worms from the body.
#5. Try garlic.
Studies have shown that garlic is as effective as commercial dewormers in eliminating worms. Garlic strengthens the immune system and rids the stomach wall of mucus, making it a less attractive environment for whipworms. It also contains allicin, an amino acid that is effective against parasites.
#6. Use chamomile for digestive support.
Chamomile is an excellent herb to help prevent and destroy parasitic worms. It should be administered as a glycerin tincture that can be placed directly in your dog’s mouth or his food.
#7. Leaf power.
Olive leaf extract and neem leaf can be added to your dog’s food to eliminate whipworms. Slippery elm can be paired as a supplement with these natural remedies to help soothe any irritations in the intestinal tracts caused by the whipworms.
#8. Include blood-building supplements.
If whipworms have infected your dog, add some iron-rich and vitamin supplements to help your dog recover from anemia by producing more new blood.
Remember to discuss your dog’s condition and any changes or natural remedies you want to use with your dog’s veterinarian before using them. Your vet can advise you on which method might work best for your dog’s circumstances as well as proper dosage amounts.
Why are holistic treatments preferred over drug and deworming treatments?
Because more commercial, traditional deworming drugs can cause adverse side effects in dogs, some dog owners prefer to use natural remedies to avoid having their dog struggle with side effects on top of a worm infection. Some deworming drugs, like fenbendazole and pyrantel, can cause severe effects in your dog including vomiting, lethargy, anorexia, and in some cases, death.
Holistic, natural methods of parasite prevention and treatment are generally safe and non-toxic and less likely to cause severe reactions in your dog.
Whipworm infections are difficult to spot, and then even tougher to eliminate entirely. Re-infection from contaminated environments is a serious concern. Talk to your vet about using holistic methods to prevent and treat whipworm infections in your dog, and help to break this parasite’s life cycle.