You’ve noticed your dog itching furiously lately.
You can even see patches of bare skin, many coming complete with small scabs, where your fur-kids’ hair has begun to fall away.
You might just have a lice problem on your hands.
What are you going to do now?
Canine lice are small parasites living on a dog’s skin, feeding by chewing on the skin of the dog or sucking blood (depending on the type).
If not controlled/treated, they can grow to become an infestation.
Not as common as dog fleas, these are most often (but not always) found in conditions where sanitation is poor.
They are small, wingless and flat, and there are two types.
The first ‘chewing lice’ survive by eating skin secretions and debris and come in two ‘subforms’ (one is rare in North America).
The second, sucking lice, feed off of blood.
You can’t get lice from your dog, nor can your dog get lice from you. Lice are specific to the species they feed off of; pet lice won’t feed on human blood.
However, there is a type of lice that do feed on human blood.
If your dog has contracted a case of pet lice, but you maintain a clean and sanitary house, he/she probably got it from an area populated by other dogs.
Common places where your dog might get lice (though lice are still uncommon) are animal shelters, dog parks, boarding kennels, or grooming facilities.
- Frequent itching, scratching
- The coat appears dry, scruffy and loses sheen
- Hair loss; common areas – neck, groin, ears, shoulders, rectal area
- Small wounds or infections
- In extreme cases, or in puppies/small dogs – anemia
Small dogs/ puppies, or those with especially severe cases, might suffer from anemia due to blood loss.
Sucking lice don’t move around as much as chewing lice, embedding mouthparts in the dog’s skin.
A lice comb will help identify canine lice.
Tapeworms and bacteria are more easily spread by lice.
- Regularly bathe your dog
- Dog lice shampoo (Leave the shampoo for 10 min. on the body before flushing, read more below)
- Visit your vet
- Use insecticidal products – those that contain fipronil (Frontline, Effipro), permethrin, phosmet, fenthion, and selamectin
- Use a dog comb
- Clean the bedding
- Give your dog some vitamins (one and second examples)
- Remove some of the eggs left or attached to the hair follicles of your dog. (It will be hard, but you will win!)
Keep in mind, that you must to treat all the dogs in the house, even if only one has lice!
Your first line of defense should be regular, monthly flea/tick preventative which also treats for lice.
Assuming you have done this, lice should never be a problem in the first place.
These days, most animal lice are only found on feral, sick, old or stray animals.
Flea combs are useful in removing both live and dead lice.
Topical store-bought ointments can be used, and your veterinarian can further prescribe any treatment necessary.
Don’t stop with your pet.
Wash all bedding, clothing, or anything else your dog may have come into contact with!
Usually, lice will favor old, weak dogs, or those that live in unsanitary conditions.
Believe it or not, several flea shampoos are also effective against lice.
However, shampoo shouldn’t be your end-all, best option, and only alternative.
Shampoo won’t penetrate the eggs, which is why manufacturers often recommend shampooing/bathing every day.
Where daily bathing will take care of your problem, it will also continually remove natural oils from your dog’s skin. Therefore, we recommend giving your pet vitamins for skincare (one and second examples).
Weekly shampooing/bathing with these products for pet lice might be recommended for about six weeks to fully take care of your lice problem.
Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully!
- Consider investing in a specially made come particularly designed with pet lice in mind.
Dog lice grow rapidly.
A single louse lays about 100 eggs in her life.
After 2-3 weeks, these nits turn into adult lice, which leads to an increase in the number of lice on the dog’s body.
Since most lice medicines do not kill nits, there is therefore always a chance for a second treatment.
We recommend regular weekly shampoo for 5-6 weeks.
To fulfill the actual medication, it is necessary to approach the inmost layer of the coat.
This becomes especially difficult to accomplish with furry dog breeds.
The most suitable solution to cover the deepest level where nits and lice are glued is shaving the coat.
The same applies to dogs with a matted or lumpy fur.
Some of the home treatments for these parasites are the same ones applied to cure dogs fleas.
- Tea tree essential oil: Influences antibacterial, anti-parasitic and antiseptic power. In this occurrence, it is most suitable to mix up 5 drops of oil with the shampoo. You can use such a mixture once a week.
- Citronella Infusion Massages: Provides good repellent protection. To help with parasites, you need to add a handful of fresh citronella to half a pint of boiled water. The cooled liquid must be filtered and moistened with a cotton pad. Then put on the dog’s lice, paying special attention to the affected areas.
- Lavender essential oil: Has an antiseptic effect on the dog’s skin. Do not apply if there are open wounds. Add 5 drops to a cotton pad and smear it to the stricken zones.
- Garlic: Is one of the most suitable ways for deworming dogs. For large dogs, a clove of garlic is advised to add to their food. For small dogs, half a clove will be enough.
- Artemisia: Has an insecticidal effect. The essential oil of this plant will help get rid of parasites. With a solution of Artemisia tincture, moisten a cotton pad and apply on dogs lice.
If you find a lot of lice, bald patches or wounds due to severe itching, we do not recommend using home remedies.
The same recommendation if:
- your dog is in the puppy stage
- your dog is old
- is there any underlying disease
- take any medication
In this case, home remedies can cause problems and you need the advice of a veterinarian.
To prevent the dog from becoming infected again, the following precautions must be taken.
- Disinfect or clean bedding, dishes, combs, brushes, collars, rugs, carpets or anything in direct contact with your dog.
- Lice and nits must be sealed in a zip-lock plastic bag for 4-6 weeks until they die.
- Vacuum (or sanitize) every place your pet has spent time. Dog’s hair can be anywhere the dog was. There are can be lingering lice or nits on the dog’s hair. Dispose of the vacuum bag safely to avoid possible lice infestation.
The correct procedure to keep lice away from dogs is as follows:
- Comb and brush
- Flea comb
- Stay away from infected dogs
- Dog Lice Shampoo
- Insecticide shampoo – we stated some of them above.
If you make the environment less suitable for lice, then you can avoid infecting your beloved pet.
- Lice usually gather around areas where there are mice or food waste. Keep the area where your dog goes outside clean.
- If groomers do not disinfect their tools between groomings, they can infect your pet. Choose your groomer carefully based on reviews and your experience.
- If your dog’s friends are infected with lice, try to protect your pet from unwanted contact.
- If you care for multiple animals, consider quarantining those infected for the duration.
- Clean all household items associated with your dog, or your dog may have touched (clean all of these items on hot).
- Clean the house repeatedly.
1. Can dogs get lice from humans/animals?
Most people think that dogs can get lice from humans.
But this is an erroneous opinion.
Lice are species specific, so humans can’t contract lice from dogs, or vice versa.
However, humans can get their own type of lice.
Dogs can get lice from other dogs, but it must be through direct contact (usually), because unlike fleas, lice have very limited mobility.
Their movement is limited to crawling, as they can’t hop, jump or fly.
2. How to get rid of dog lice in the house?
Thankfully, adult lice will only live for a few days if they fall of a host (again, unlike fleas), so your first step is to cut off their food source.
Treat your dog with flea/tick preventative monthly.
Remember, pet lice will only feed off of pets and not humans (human lice being a different matter, but not the subject of this article).
Now that they have no food source, adult lice will die within a few days.
To get rid of larvae, make sure to vacuum every carpeted surface thoroughly, clean/wash all clothing, and spray your couch/cushions with something developed to kill lice.
In other words, make sure to clean very thoroughly.
Without a meal, your problem will go away on its own. And you won’t have to ask a question “how to get rid of dog lice” again.
3. My child has head lice. Is there a chance he/she got it from the family pet?
Since lice are species specific, there is no way your children can get lice from your pets (or vise versa).
4. What is the fastest way to get rid of dog lice?
When you shampoo them in the bath, drip a pair of drops of tea tree oil to the shampoo.
Lice hate the flavor.
5. Do dogs get lice?
Yes. Dogs sometimes get lice.
There are risk factors to get lice:
- lack of proper sanitation,
- lean feeding and
- poor general health.
Too young and senior dogs are at risk also.
6. How do dogs get lice?
Dogs get lice are across other contaminated dogs, via grooming tools (unsanitized combs, brushes, scissors and shavers), and for the reasons stated above.
Groomers must disinfect their tools between groomings, and you must to make sure of it.
7. Can dogs with hair get lice?
Lice live on and around hair shafts, hold on the dog’s hair, eating skin cells, dander and gland secretions. Accordingly, the answer is yes.
8. Can you use lice shampoo on dogs?
Yes, you can.
One of the stages of the fight against lice is the use of dog lice shampoo.
Use a concrete shampoo created to kill canine lice, and to hinder lice from return.
9. Can humans get dog lice? Can dogs get human lice?
Have in mind that the lice on a dog is much various than a lice on a human.
Don’t worry, your dog’s lice won’t pass to you or your family just like as human head lice won’t pass to your dog.
10. Will flea shampoo kill lice?
Lot flea shampoos have pyrethroids or organophosphates are working good against lice when backed up with a nit comb right after the bath.
And since the dog shampoo for lice does not penetrate the eggs of parasites, get ready to fight again after their maturation (usually within 2-4 weeks).
In order not to miss the appearance of the next generation of parasites, we recommend regular weekly shampoo for at least 5-6 weeks.
NEVER use dog flea shampoo on cats as it can be toxic for felines.
11. Are there chewable effective against lice, fleas, and ticks?
Thanks to veterinary advancements, we now have chewables that won’t only prevent heartworm, fleas, ticks AND lice, they will kill adults, larvae and eggs.
Flea collars often don’t work nearly as well, treating only the surrounding area, and bathing won’t kill eggs.
Topical ointments work well for prevention, but are often difficult to apply underneath heavy, thick coats.
Talk about your problem with your pet’s veterinarian in order to discover the best treatment options!
Video: How to treat dog lice – on adult dog and puppies
Click here to see the video.
The most common additional parasite lice can transmit/carry is tapeworm, offering problems of its own.
In order to prevent any of this, especially lice, treat your pet with a monthly flea/tick & heartworm preventative!
Keep the living area clean, and use caution around closely populated areas with many other animals.
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