Whipworms live in the large intestine of dogs and irritate the lining causing watery, bloody diarrhoea and weight loss.
Whipworms produce microscopic eggs that pass out in the dog’s faeces. The eggs resist drying and heat, and can infect another dog years later. Dogs housed on dirt or grass that is not regularly cleaned of faeces risk whipworm infestation.
Whipworm eggs in the faeces confirm a whipworm infestation. However, they are often hard to find as the worms only produce small numbers of eggs on an irregular basis. Any dog with chronic diarrhoea could have whipworms despite negative faecal examinations. Response to treatment indicates that whipworms were present after all.
Most broad spectrum wormers, including Milbemax and Drontal are effective against whipworms.
Whipworms are not infectious to people. They are only parasites of the dog.
Dogs affected with haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) vomit and pass diarrhoea with blood in it. It develops rapidly and sometimes owners just find their dog collapsed.
HGE is more common in small breeds of dogs. A very high red blood cell concentration, measured as the packed cell volume, PCV, or haematocrit is characteristic of HGE. Most normal dogs have hæmatocrits of 37-55%. Dogs with HGE have hæmatocrits over 60%.
We don’t know the exact cause of HGE.
We rule out other causes of vomiting and bloody diarrhoea while we start emergency treatment for HGE. These causes include stomach ulcers, trauma, worms, other gut parasites, gastrointestinal tumours, intestinal obstruction, foreign bodies, parvovirus, and coagulation disorders.
Dogs with HGE are very ill and if left untreated die. In most cases, it runs its course in a few days with intravenous fluid therapy to combat the dehydration and shock. We give other treatments like antibiotics, anti-ulcer medication and corticosteroids as indicated.
If intravenous fluid therapy is not given the haematocrit continues to rise and the blood becomes so thick that it can hardly flow. A clotting disorder called disseminated intravascular coagulation develops which is often irreversible and fatal.