Adult whipworms are not particularly difficult to treat in dogs. However, it can be hard to eliminate whipworm eggs from the environment. Bleach, steam and sunlight are helpful, especially in high-density kennel situations. The goals of treating whipworms are to eradicate the parasites from the dog’s digestive tract, eliminate eggs from the environment and prevent cycles of reinfection.
A number of effective treatments are available for dogs with whipworms, some of which are not appropriate for use in very young puppies or pregnant females. Any medical treatment should be accompanied by nurturing supportive care, including good nutrition, free access to fresh water and a safe, quiet, warm, well-bedded living environment. In cases of severe whipworm infestation, the animal may need to be hospitalized so that it can receive intravenous fluids, electrolytes, iron, oxygen and/or other nutritional support.
The array of drugs currently available to treat dogs with whipworms includes fenbendazole (Panacur; probably the preferred go-to-treatment according to many authorities; reported to be safe to use during pregnancy); febantel; praziquantel/pyrantel/febantel (Drontal Plus; not currently recommended for use in pregnant dogs); diethylcarbamazine/oxibendazole (Filaribits Plus; reported to have caused liver/hepatic injury in some dogs); and milbemycin oxime (Interceptor; reportedly has good results as a preventive when used monthly for chronic, recurrent infections; dogs receiving milbemycin oxime should have a heartworm test before it is administered).
Treatment of whipworms normally is done once monthly for 3 months, with frequent fecal rechecks at the veterinary clinic to be sure that the dog has not become reinfected. Most of these medications are administered orally or topically. The precise de-worming regimen can vary depending upon which drugs or combination of drugs is being used. When a dog has been diagnosed with whipworms, it is important for its owner to follow the veterinarian’s de-worming protocol closely.
The prognosis for dogs with whipworms is generally quite good, as long as they receive appropriate and timely treatment. Unfortunately, because the eggs of these parasites are so hardy and can survive for so long in most environments, reinfection is common. Dogs do not become resistant to whipworm infection following their first infection.