By Darlene Stott
Published: 07/17/2017, edited: 09/07/2022
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The itching! The scratching! Lice are known for being an uncomfortable pain in the you know what. These tiny insects infest their host and live off of its blood. If that isn't gross enough, they lay egg sacs attached to their host's hairs which are called “nits”. Anyone with kids is probably familiar with these pests, as head lice outbreaks in schools are very common. But do our dogs get lice too? Can human lice spread to canines?
Can Dogs Get Nits From Humans?
We need to break this one into two parts. First off, yes, dogs do indeed get lice. Because they get lice, they definitely get nits. And with all of that fur you can imagine just how bad these infestations can get. But dogs do not get infested with head lice from their owners. Only dog-lice will live on dogs. These mini pests are quite picky, and very rarely even bite anything except their preferred host. A dog with a full-blown infestation of human head lice is basically unheard of.
Does My Dog Have Lice?
There are more than one nuisance bug that can make your pooch itch. Once you've noticed that your pet is scratching more than normal, it's best to let a vet confirm why.
If your pup has lice, they will be scratching and biting at their skin constantly. They may scratch so much that their hair starts to fall out in places. If the infection goes on too long, your dog can start to get really sick as well.
The only way that a dog can get lice is from another dog who has them. Rarely, objects that an infected dog has touched can transmit the mean little insects.
To confirm that your dog has lice, your vet will take a scraping of skin or fur from the animal. By examining the sample with a microscope, the vet will be able to tell for sure whether lice are the problem. If you're looking for more info about lice in dogs, give this article a read: Lice in Dogs .
How Do I Treat My Dog's Lice?
The thought of little bugs drinking your beloved fur-baby's blood is likely to make your skin crawl. To get rid of these creatures some diligence is needed.
Your vet will either prescribe a special shampoo, a medication to kill lice after they've eaten or a combination of both. To get rid of all of the unhatched nits, treatment may need to go on for up to a month!
To keep your pup healthy, you must prevent lice from reinfecting. This means that you need to take all of your dog's bedding or favorite rugs and either clean them, throw them out, or seal them in plastic bags for up to six weeks.
To hear real stories of other pooches dealing with lice, and to have your questions answered by a veterinarian, head over to Lice in Dogs .
How are Lice Similar in Dogs and Humans?
While the exact species may differ, lice in general share a lot of traits. Things that both people and pups experience include:
How are Lice Different in Dogs and Humans?
While a lice infestation is usually harmless to a person, the same is not always true for dogs. Main differences between human and canine infections are:
- Coat deterioration - a dog may experience really dry or matted fur
- Anemia - sucking lice can deplete a dog's iron levels
- Weight loss - dogs can become so infected that they begin to lose weight (especially puppies!)
Things can get extra tricky with lice infestations if you own more than one dog. An owner of three large dogs figured this out the hard way. After multiple infections of lice, she went to the vet and received medication for all three dogs at once. This prescription had to be given monthly for the entire summer! In addition to that, they had to replace or wash all of the dog blankets and beds in the entire house. After a lot of work, they were able to rid their home and all of their pups from these terrible critters.
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