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Can Dogs Get Lice From Humans?

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Dog Health By Meg Marrs 3 min read July 16, 2020

dog and human lice
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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. Read on to learn more about lice, your dog, and what you can do about them!

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 usually 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 least common ones. You’re more likely to have your dog come down with a case of worms or fleas than lice.

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 have three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult lice.

Once an adult female louse gets onto your dog and starts laying eggs, it takes about a week for them to hatch. These teenage lice (aka nymphs) grow into adults over the span of about a week.

Once they reach maturity, these new adults start laying 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 or tan in 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 (also gross, but somehow, less so).

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.

There are also several dog lice shampoos you can use to treat your pooch.

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.

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.

In addition to treating your dog, you’ll need to thoroughly wash your dog’s bedding and toys in hot water (just discard and replace any that can’t be washed). It’d also be a good idea to do a thorough, top-to-bottom house cleaning, just to be safe.

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Has your dog ever had lice? Was it difficult to eradicate? Share your stories in the comments!

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Written by

Meg Marrs

Meg Marrs is the Founder and Director of Marketing at K9 of Mine. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! She loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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