Yes, dogs can get lice. It’s not common, but it has been known to happen.
First, you should know that I’m not talking about human head lice. Those nasty little flightless insects are typically species-specific to humans, so you will find them only in human hair. Dog hair is too coarse for this kind of lice.
But there’s another type of lice known as dog lice. They can attach to animal hairs in rundown dogs or cats. These lice do not jump around like fleas, and humans rarely get lice from pets.
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Lice are not easy to spot. Inspect the hair closely, and use a magnifying glass to get a better look. These lice will be lighter brown (or tan) unlike than the darker brown lice that live on humans.
Lice will cause your dog to itch intensely. Severe infestations may have your pet creating wounds thanks to the constant scratching.
To treat a dog who has lice, wash the hair every day with a shampoo that contains d-Limonene (affiliate link), a citrus-derived insecticide that is said to be nontoxic to your pet. Rinse after 10 minutes. This should kill the adult dog lice.
Meanwhile, the eggs (called “nits”) will continue to hatch over 2 to 3 weeks. This is why you need to keep giving baths every day until all lice are dead. If you pick off any lice from the dog, dispose of them in a sealed bag. Using a nit comb will not yield any live lice, only eggs, so just stick to bathing the dog and be patient.
There is probably no need to treat bedding or other pet areas for lice, as the lice confine themselves solely to the pet itself. Unlike fleas, these pests live and breed and feed entirely on the dog. However, you may want to carefully inspect and clean grooming tools, the dog collar and similar items just in case.
In the video below, veterinarian Fiona Caldwell discusses home remedies:
How Do Dogs Get Lice?
- Your dog became infested after spending time with another animal who had lice.
- Or your dog was groomed with a brush or comb that was contaminated with lice.
Lice are spread by direct contact. Dogs who are in poor health can become heavily infested.