Head Lice or nits are small insects that feed mainly on blood. They can be found in human hair, at the base of the scalp and loose strands of hair. These tiny pests cause a great deal of discomfort in humans and dogs. While head lice are extremely common, there is still some debate about whether or not dogs can get them. After all, how do you tell if an animal has lice?
Head Lice and Dog Lice ARE Different
Like human head lice, dog lice are usually transmitted in situations where dogs are gathered together. In this respect, lice infestations are a sign of a pampered pet! The dogs most likely to get lice are those who go to dog day care, puppy classes, agility, dog shows, or on group walks. The lice move straight from dog to dog by direct contact.
The main issue that lice cause is itching, which results in loss of sleep and general misery. Blood loss from severe infestations can cause animals to become anaemic; this is usually only seen in young puppies or kittens. Once the lice are under control, infected dogs should receive tapeworm treatment because lice can carry tapeworms. They can (fairly infrequently) spread other illnesses as well.
Can Dog Lice Be Transmitted To Humans?
No. While this may seem totally plausible, dog lice cannot be transferred to humans and as such are unlikely to be the cause of any type of infestation within the family. If your dog develops lice, don’t get alarmed! Lice from dogs rarely infest humans. The majority of lice are quite species-specific; for example, dog lice prefer dogs and human lice prefer humans. A dog louse can definitely infest a person, and it may even bite or try to feed, but it won’t start an infestation. Once you’ve stopped screaming, simply pick the louse off or squash it if you see one from your dog on yourself.
Signs of a Dog Having Head Lice
Scratching is typically the first indication of lice. The dog develops a sudden, severe itch. You might notice some tiny, light- to medium-brown coloured creatures close to the skin if you look closely. The colour (fleas are quite dark) and the speed can help you distinguish between lice and fleas (lice are quite sluggish movers, while fleas usually zoom out of sight before you are really sure you saw anything).
The nits on the hairs might also catch your attention. They are very challenging to see with the unaided eye. The empty shells most resemble tiny pieces of dead skin or dandruff. Using a flea comb to collect hair from the area where you have suspicions is one way to tell. It’s just dandruff or debris if you can shake the hair and the “flakes” fall off onto the countertop. They might be nits if the “flakes” are tightly attached to the hair.
How to Treat Your Dog for Head Lice
Lice treatment is comparatively simple. Numerous insecticides eliminate lice. The majority of flea shampoos, which effectively eradicate louse infestations, contain pyrethrins or organophosphates. Lice can be killed by applying topical insecticides like imidacloprid (Advantage) every two weeks. Despite not having a label for lice, selamectin (Revolution) may still be effective. Although permethrins, which are different from pyrethrins, are also powerful insecticides, I don’t often advise using them on dogs because they could accidentally poison cats.
Your pets should be kept out of situations where they will come into contact with other animals while receiving treatment for lice. They are permitted to visit parks and go for walks, but they must wait at least 4 weeks after starting treatment before playing with other dogs. Going to dog daycare or other places with high contact rates is especially not advised. Despite the fact that the insecticides may have killed the adults on your pet, you never know when the annoying eggs will hatch and release more nymphs, which are undoubtedly contagious to the next dog.