The rumors are true – there’s a lice infestation at your child’s school and guess what? Your kid has it! Dealing with your own child’s head full of bugs is bad enough, but do you have to worry about spreading it to the dog too?
No – lice cannot spread from humans to dogs (thank goodness).
However, this doesn’t mean that dogs can’t get lice. They just can’t get your lice.
Once Of These Lice Is Not Like The Other
There are actually many different species of lice, designed to survive on certain species of animals. So while there are dog lice, chicken lice, human lice, goat lice, and many, many more, they can’t cross over between animal species.
In fact, there are even different species of lice that only inhabit certain areas of your body (head lice will only live on your head, and pubic lice will stick to the pubic area… if that gives you any comfort whatsoever).
It’s also worth noting that when it comes to parasites your pets are susceptible to, lice is one of the more uncommon ones. You’re more likely to have your dog encounter worms or fleas.
How Do Dogs Get Dog Lice?
Dog lice is transmitted through direct contact with another infected dog. This means that dog lice is often spread through doggy daycares, dog parks, and other locations where dogs congregate and hang out together.
Dog lice has three stages – egg, nymph, and adult lice. Once an adult female lice gets onto your dog, it takes about a week for its eggs to hatch. These teenage lice (aka nymphs) grow into adults over the span of a week. Those new adults lay eggs and begin the cycle over again.
Signs That Your Dog Has Lice
Similar to human lice, you should be able to see the lice on your dog. Just part your pup’s hair and have a gander. Adult lice can be seen by the human eye – they are approximately the size of a sesame seed and are a yellow/tan color. Nymphs are only the size of a pin head, and are much more difficult to see.
There are actually two types of lice your dog can contract:
- Chewing Lice. Chewing lice eat your dog’s skin debris and secretions from your dog’s skin (yep, pretty gross).
- Sucking Lice. Sucking lice drink your dog’s blood to survive and will bite into their skin, often causing welts.
Other Symptoms of Dog Lice:
- Excessive itching and scratching
- Hair loss
- Wounds or infections that come from the bites of lice that suck
- Dry, matted coats
How to Treat Canine Lice
Canine lice is pretty uncommon today due to the regular use of monthly flea and tick treatments among pets. However, if your dog does fall victim to dog lice, you can use topical treatments to kill them off.
While insecticide treatments will eradicate adults and nymphs, the eggs won’t be destroyed, which means the treatment will need to be repeated regularly for at least a month. In addition to treating your dog, you’ll need to thoroughly wash your dog’s bedding and toys.
If you have other pets in your household, keep in mind that all dogs will have to be treated. Also be very careful if you have cats present, since many lice treatments for dogs are toxic for felines.
Has your dog ever had lice? Was it difficult to eradicate? Share your stories in the comments!