How to Clean a Dog With Lice

Medium
1 - 2 Hours
1 Day

Introduction

Ragdoll, a Havanese mix, just came back from the groomers a few days ago. Suddenly, she is itching, biting and licking at her fur, and when her owner investigates she notices bumpy, inflamed skin. Ragdoll is whisked off to the vet where a closer examination with a magnifying glass reveals little tan-colored bugs crawling on Ragdoll's skin. Dog lice! No doubt picked up at the grooming salon from another dog or improperly cleaned grooming tools. 

The good news is that lice tend to be species-specific and dog lice do not infest humans, are not dangerous, and are treatable.  The bad news is they are uncomfortable, and getting rid of them requires some serious elbow grease on your part applied to your dog and your home to clean them up.

Dog's Perspective

If your dog has lice, he will be itchy--really itchy. You will notice him scratching at, biting, and licking his fur. If left untreated and lice begin to proliferate, your dog may eventually injure himself by scratching or biting, trying to stop the itching.  Skin around bites can also become red and inflamed, making it more prone to infections and eventually lice infections can cause hair loss, anemia, lethargy and weight loss.

The Natural Approach Method

Most Recommended
3 Votes
Shampoo
Flea Comb
Comb
Step
1
Shampoo with anti-lice shampoo
Wash your dog's hair with a shampoo containing d-Limonene, a non toxic, citrus shampoo. This will kill adult lice.
Step
2
Manually remove nits
Comb your dog thoroughly with a fine tooth comb or lice comb. Part hair down to the skin. Pick out any nits, little white eggs, stuck to the hair shafts with the nit comb or a pair of tweezers and place them in a sealable bag for disposal.
Step
3
Repeat bathing
Repeat bathing for several days. Repeat several days of bathing again when nits hatch 2 to 3 weeks after initial infestation, to kill any lice that hatch from nits not found during the combing process.
Step
4
Clean items and pets
Wash bedding, your dog's collar, and grooming tools by immersing in water and vinegar. Inspect, monitor, and bathe any other pets present in the home who may also require treatment.
Step
5
Apply lemon juice
Boil a lemon slice in water and allow to steep overnight. After bathing, rub the lemon water on your dog to repel lice.
Recommend grooming method?

The This Means War Method

Effective
1 Vote
Flea Comb
Comb
Step
1
Comb to remove lice
Thoroughly comb your dog with a lice comb, removing adult lice and nits. Pay special attention to the neck, collar area, armpits and groin. Immerse lice in hot water to kill them and put dead lice and nits in a resealable bag for disposal.
Step
2
Clip
Shave your dog's hair short to remove hair and nits and make your dog less hospitable to lice.
Step
3
Shampoo
Shampoo with commercially available shampoos containing anti- insecticidal like organophosphates or pyrethroids. Bathing will not kill nits, lice eggs. Bathe every few days for several weeks to make sure any adults that hatch from missed nits are killed.
Step
4
Use topical treatments
Apply anti-lice powders and sprays to prevent re-infestation.
Step
5
Clean house and items
Wash bedding, grooming tools, collars and other pets. Vacuum carpets and furniture thoroughly.
Recommend grooming method?

Caution & Considerations

  • Pregnant dogs and puppies can develop toxicity from certain anti-parasitic chemicals. Consult a veterinarian if your pregnant or lactating dog or young puppies have been infested with lice. Manual and natural methods of lice removal may be necessary.
  • You may need to treat symptoms of itchiness, dry skin, and inflamed skin with anti-itch shampoos and medications, to provide your dog relief. Coconut oil, oatmeal and other natural products may help.
  • Be sure to follow manufacturer's directions on insecticidal shampoos, some require to be left on for a period of time to be effective, and correct dosage is important.
  • Make sure your dog doesn't lick off any residual shampoo. Rinse shampoo well, or if shampoo needs to remain on, use a cone or supervise your dog to prevent licking.
  • Bathing will not kill or remove nits, these need to be manually removed and bathing needs to be repeated in a few weeks when nits hatch and may cause a second infestation.
  • Monitor and treat other pets in the house.
  • Vacuum your home thoroughly and clean bedding, and your dog's items to remove lice.  Although lice usually stay on their host, some can transfer to furniture, grooming tools, and bedding.

Conclusion

Lice may be icky, but take heart, they are not dangerous and can be cleaned up with a little effort and persistence. You may need to use a combination of bathing in natural or commercial antiparasitic shampoos and manual removal of lice eggs to delouse your dog. Regular cleaning of bedding, your house, and your dog's items, will make sure that he is not reinfested. Other pets in the home are susceptible, you will need to monitor and treat them accordingly. Take heart, this too shall pass!

Success Stories and Grooming Questions

Grooming Questions & Answers

Question
Betty
Bichon Frise
2 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Betty
Bichon Frise
2 Years

How can my puppy get rid of lice

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Hi there, sorry to hear that Betty has lice. If you have ever had experience with lice in humans, you know they are very difficult to get rid of. The process must be thorough. This is a situation for the vet. The chemicals needed to rid your dog of lice are strong and can carry risk, so eliminating them should be under the care of your vet. Do not buy a product from the store that may be too harsh and dangerous. Betty can get tapeworm from the lice, so this is another reason that it's critical that the vet attends to her. As well, the vet can advise you on how to eliminate the pests from your home - if you do not, the lice will once again latch on to Betty. It's a process, but don't worry, the vet can assist you and take care of Betty. Good luck!

Good luck on finding a Vet that actually believes or knows about Lice I have gone to several Vets $1000 later & they don't even look at the bags of lice I have brought in & give my dogs a shot that will help in itching only to find out it has a lawsuit against it because so many dogs die within 14 days of shot which didn't work anyway then said simplification trio would kill lice so had that put on & it doesn't work, the groomer gave them a flea dip & applied Advantage which seemed to make them itch worse so only thing I can say is research that coconut helps smoother them & Oil oil & baby oil help gets eggs out also check out neem oil works !used with a good shampoo I also found help from farmers because they deal with lice on goats, pigs, horses & use dusting powder & even used that outside with a brush to leave on & still have 1 dog with them I have treated both front & back lawns twice & do laundry all day vacuum daily shampoo rugs every other day these new Lice have become very resistant to most insecticides I barely get 2 hours of sleep & start all over at 6am you have to spend at least 3-4 hours a day on your dog after shampooing them & use not comb to get the eggs off or the cycle starts all over again I did have to shave my beautiful double coated Comedian because they matted his hair so bad with the sticky glue to stay on the shaft of his hair. Good Luck

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Question
Bailee
Shepherd
4 Months
-1 found helpful
Question
-1 found helpful
Bailee
Shepherd
4 Months

We were given Bravecto for Bailee’s lice and told to wash her with flea and tick shampoo every few days. This is her second time having it since she was picked up by the fosters. We’ve had her for almost two months. Is there anything else we can do? A better shampoo we can get? Should we also put Advantage 2 on her? Does anything kill the nits?

Darlene Stott
Darlene Stott
Dog Trainer and Groomer
0 Dog owners recommended

Thank you for the question. I would consult the vet. You don't want to use too many products on Bailee at once in case the chemicals, in combination, are too much. Combing is the only way to get rid of the nits - and as well, your house has to be cleaned (especially Bailee's bedding, toys, grooming items, and furniture where she sleeps in general). The veterinarian can advise you on the procedure for getting rid of the lice in the home. The combing procedure can be explained in detail too. I know it seems like an insurmountable task but you will conquer it eventually with the vet's guidance. Good luck!

Please BE CAREFUL OF BRAVECTO thousands of dogs have died from it and there’s a lawsuit now because of it. Look up for busters boric acid (salt) powder for rugs and furniture it dehydrated anything living in carpets and safe. Anti parasite shampoos online with sulphur are good. I’m usually against chemicals poisons in my dog or on her but I’m trying frontline because it has the safest reputation compared to others. And only temporarily will I use it. I’m also trying baking soda dry all over and I read olive oil works to smooth itch.

I had Vet do simplification trio for Lice didn't work & another Vet did Advantage didn't work don't waste money on Vets you are better off doing your own research I have 2 comedians one is pretty clear of lice but other one has got infested its a lot of work I vacuum daily I do laundry until 2am I wash dogs with Vets Formula clinical care medicated shampoo but add coconut oil & been oil & sometimes olive oil & leave on for 5-10 min to suffocate adult lice but then after you have to use not comb to get eggs off so I found olive oil & baby oil to work good to pull them off the hair shafts, but its a nightmare I had to shave 1 dog who was my show dog & now still dealing with other dog who is itching horribly I also used dust on powder which farmers use its a lot of work I am going on 6 months because Vets kept wrongly diagnosing problem said dogs had dry skin & dandruff which was lice some z vets need license taken away.

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Question
Aji
Mini Australian Shepterrier
7 Years
0 found helpful
Question
0 found helpful
Aji
Mini Australian Shepterrier
7 Years

We are fighting lice. Have no idea how we got it. We are on 4th going on 5th treatment of lice application behind the neck from the vet. We’ve never been to the groomers. His fur is not matted and is beautiful. I bath one every 2 weeks. I’ve washed all bedding, brushes, etc. vacuumed the floors and furniture. We don’t go to to dog parks or have play dates. I can’t shave an Aussie,but I wish I could, his hair is hard to care for. And I’m broke after hundreds of dollars on vets so I can’t keep buying different stuff that doesn’t work. I can’t find frontline anywhere and it my dog has extremely sensitive skin and has allergies. We’ve never had issues like this before. This lice is a nightmare and I can’t get rid of it. Can you help?

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