Can dogs get Lice?

Can dogs get Lice? Dogs can be infested with 3 types of lice, Trichodectes canis (a biting louse), Linognathus setosus (a bloodsucking louse), and Heterodoxus spiniger (a biting louse that feeds on blood). Dog’s poor health condition can become a reason of heavily infested. Heterodoxus spiniger is tail in North America.

Can dogs get Lice

Lice of Dogs

:small_blue_diamond: Lice are small, flightless insects that live in animals’ and humans’ hair or feathers. There are two types of lice. Both birds and mammals are infested by biting or chewing lice (order Mallophaga). They primarily feed on skin debris and host secretions. Blood-sucking lice (order Anoplura) are only found on mammals’ skin.

:small_blue_diamond: Female lice attach their eggs, known as nits, to the host’s hairs near the skin. Normal shampooing and washing will not remove the nits. Nits are light in color, translucent, and almost oval in shape. After the nits hatch, the lice go through sylph stages before becoming adults. The immature sylphs resemble adult lice, only smaller.

:small_blue_diamond: Most lice take 3 to 4 weeks to mature from nit to reproductively capable adult, though this varies depending on the species.

:small_blue_diamond: Scratching, biting, and rubbing of infested areas are the first signs that your dog has lice. A dog with lice will usually have a rough, dry coat. If the lice are plentiful, the hair may become matted. Small wounds caused by sucking lice can become infected. The diagnosis is usually made by observing lice or eggs on the infested pet.

:small_blue_diamond: Parting the hair frequently reveals lice. Chewing lice are visible moving through the hair and are active. Sucking lice move at a slower pace. They are frequently discovered with their mouthparts embedded in the skin.

:small_blue_diamond: Using a fine-toothed comb to remove nits is a time-consuming process that will not kill lice that have already hatched. Dogs, cats, and other pets are typically treated with lice-killing spot-on products, shampoos, collars, sprays, or dusts. Your veterinarian can recommend and provide instructions for an appropriate control product for your pet.

:small_blue_diamond: Lice that are dropped or pulled from the host die within a few days, but eggs can hatch for up to three weeks. Thus, 7 to 10 days after the initial treatment, lice control treatments should be repeated. After you see the last louse, you should inspect your pet’s coat daily for at least 2 weeks. Make sure to carefully collect any lice removed from your pet and dispose of them in a sealed container as soon as possible (such as a zip-closure plastic bag).

:small_blue_diamond: Other dogs that come into contact with an infested dog should be treated to prevent the lice from spreading. Scratching may cause skin damage in dogs with severe louse infestations. Bacterial infections are common, as are scratch wounds. If any of these conditions exist, your veterinarian may recommend an antibiotic or other medication. Any other nutritional or health issues will be addressed by your veterinarian.

:small_blue_diamond: You’ll want to make sure that lice aren’t infesting your dog’s bedding, collar, grooming tools (including bushes or combs), and other similar objects in your dog’s environment, in addition to killing the lice on your pet. Bedding should be washed in hot, soapy water on a regular basis or treated with an appropriate spray until the infestation is under control.

:small_blue_diamond: Cleaning and inspecting these items carefully can help provide your pet with ongoing relief from the irritation caused by lice. Lice that infest dogs, cats, and other pets are usually not attracted to humans. As a result, while taking care to deal with the lice infecting your pet is advised, owners should be aware that people rarely get lice from their pets.

Types of Dog Lice

Dogs can be infested by two types of lice:

  1. Chewing lice

  2. Sucking lice

Chewing Lice

Chewing lice are Trichodectes canis and Heterodoxus spiniger. They use their large and wide mouthparts to grip the host’s hairs and chew on the animal’s skin cells and surface secretions. They are distinguished by a blunt, flat head. Trichodectes canis can also be a vector for canine tapeworm and can live for 30 days on the host.

Heterodoxus spiniger, on the other hand, is primarily found in tropical regions and has been observed on coyotes, red foxes, and grey wolves after an examination.

The sucking louse

The sucking louse is Linognathus setosus. They use their claws to grip the host’s hair and suck blood through their narrow mouthparts. They are more common in dogs with long hair and in colder climates.Lice are classified into two types. Chewing lice have a blunt, flat head and survive by eating skin debris and surface secretions.

T. canis is found all over the world and typically lives for 30 days on a host. H. spiniger is mostly found in tropical areas, and although it is uncommon in dogs in North America, it has been seen on coyotes, red foxes, and grey wolves. In a 2015 study, researchers discovered this type of lice on dogs in southeastern Mexico.

Blood is required for sucking lice to survive. Linognathus setosus is the species of sucking lice that affects dogs. These, unlike chewing lice, have a sharp pointed mouthpiece. They can be found in tropical and subtropical regions of North and South America, Africa, India, and Asia.

Symptoms of Lice

Parting the dog’s hair and inspecting the hair shaft, you can see the parasite. Adult lice are visible to the normal human eye, measuring about the size of a sesame seed — about 2-to-4 millimetres — and ranging in colour from yellow to tan or medium brown. They can be distinguished from fleas, which are very dark, almost black in appearance.

Chewing lice move around more than sucking lice, which embed their piercing mouthparts into the skin like ticks. If you suspect a dog lice infestation, go over the area with a flea comb and examine the hair.

Lice, particularly the eggs or nits, are sometimes confused with dandruff, and one way to tell the difference is to shake the dog’s hair. It’s dandruff if the small flakes fall off. If they cling tenaciously to the hair, they are most likely lice. Other symptoms of a dog lice infestation include:

  • Scratching and severe itching

  • Coat that is rough, dry, or matted.

  • Hair loss, particularly around the ears, neck, shoulders, groyne, and rectal areas.

  • Small wounds or bacterial infections caused by sucking lice bites.

  • Agitated behaviour.

  • Anemia in severe cases, as well as in small dogs and puppies.

  • Lice transmits tapeworms and other bacteria or parasites.

Stages of Dog Lice

Lice have restricted mobility; they can crawl but cannot jump, hop, or fly. Adult lice also die after a few days if they fall off the host. Transmission occurs most commonly through direct contact with another infested animal, but it can also occur through contaminated bedding, dog collars, or grooming tools. Lice can be found in places where dogs congregate, such as dog daycare facilities, dog shows, boarding kennels, and parks.

The louse life cycle is divided into three stages:

  • Egg

  • Sylph

  • Adult

The female begins the cycle by laying tiny yellow or white eggs at the base of the hair shaft. These eggs are glued to the dog’s hair and will not come off when he is shampooed.

The eggs hatch in about a week, releasing immature lice known as nymphs, which are no bigger than the head of a pin. They enter the adult phase after about a week, restarting the cycle. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, most lice develop from nits to reproductively capable adults in three to four weeks.

Transmitting Head Lice

Don’t be concerned if the stray cat you adopted gave your child head lice or if your child will pass her lice on to the dog. Lice are species-specific parasites that only feed on their prey. As a result, while your child’s head lice may infect you, your pet will not be infected. 1 Human lice require human blood to survive, whereas dog lice require dog blood, and so forth.

Furthermore, your child is more likely to get head lice from school than your pet is to get lice from its surroundings, as dog and cat lice are uncommon. Although you may be tempted to keep your pets and children separate if your school has been notified of a lice infestation, there is no need to worry about transmission between your two- and four-legged children.

On the other hand, you must be cautious about transmission from your child to you, but you can still snuggle with your pet while remaining safe.

Lice in People

Although there is a common misconception that head lice are caused by poor hygiene, this is not the case with people. Lice are highly contagious and can easily spread in schools, daycares, and playgroups through direct contact and the sharing of hats, hairbrushes, and hair accessories. 2 Adults rarely contract head lice from other adults unless they live together, especially if their child has head lice.

Your child’s complaint of an itchy head or a tickling sensation in their head is often the first sign of lice. Close inspection will reveal tiny white dots clinging to the hair shafts, which are nits or lice eggs. You’ll also notice the grey and mobile adult stages, with the adults being slightly larger—about the size of a sesame seed.

To remove nits, nymphs, and adults from your child’s scalp, you must follow a strict regimen of special shampoos and combing. Along with vacuuming the areas where your child sits and plays, thoroughly washing your child’s bedding, soft toys, and clothing will help kill this parasite.

Lice in pets

:small_blue_diamond: While lice in humans are not caused by poor hygiene, pets and other animals frequently pick up lice from filthy living conditions. Infestation on pets is most common in or shelter animals in poor conditions3, rather than household pets who receive proper care.

:small_blue_diamond: Lice are easily transmitted in animal shelters that do not use proper disinfection methods, grooming facilities that do not sanitize their equipment, and pet stores that have poor living conditions.

:small_blue_diamond: Dogs may attract one species of blood-sucking lice and two species of chewing lice when infected with lice, whereas cats only attract one species of chewing lice. Your pet will become itchy regardless of the type of lice she has, causing her to rub, chew, and scratch at the affected area, resulting in a matted, rough coat. Tapeworms may also infect your dog, as one type of chewing lice can transmit these parasites.

:small_blue_diamond: If you notice your pet itching, chewing, or scratching, make an appointment with a veterinarian to determine the cause. Although lice on your pet cannot be transmitted to your child, diagnosis and treatment are still required to alleviate your pet’s discomfort. Your veterinarian may prescribe topical treatments, such as shampoos, sprays, or spot-on flea and tick preventives, depending on the cause of your pet’s itching.

:small_blue_diamond: Wash and sanitize your pet’s bedding, keep her separate from other pets of the same species, and disinfect brushes and combs used on your pet. Remember to clean the carpet and furniture where your pet spends the majority of her time, preferably with a steam cleaner.

:small_blue_diamond: If your pet has lice and your child cuddles with her, she may pick up a louse or nit. Fortunately, because lice are species-specific parasites, the opportunistic louse on your child or pet will die quickly if not fed.


A louse (plural for lice) is a wingless insect that lives in the hair, skin, or feathers of various animals, absorbing their blood or dander. Because each type of lice is species-specific, the common head lice that infect humans cannot feed on your dog.

Diagnosis Dog with Lice

:small_blue_diamond: As an initial sign of a possible lice infestation, a pet parent may notice itchiness, restlessness, fur loss, or any of the other symptoms listed above. Adult lice on the skin or lice eggs, known as “nits,” on the pet’s fur may be seen by the pet parent or groomer.

:small_blue_diamond: Adult lice are 1-2.5mm long and resemble dirt spots on the skin. Nits resemble white sand granules stuck to the hair shaft. Lice can be difficult to detect until an infestation has taken hold.

:small_blue_diamond: A veterinarian determines the type of infestation by examining a sample of dog fur or skin scraping for nits and adult lice under a microscope. Chewing lice are distinguished by their large mouthparts, which they use for chewing and grasping fur. Sucking lice are distinguished by their narrow mouthparts and slightly larger claws.

:small_blue_diamond: The diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms reported by the patient and visual identification of lice or nits. The majority of lice in an infestation are found under clumped or matted fur, or along the head, neck, shoulders, groin, and tail. Lice seek moisture and will frequently congregate near skin abrasions.

Treatment for Dog with Lice

:small_blue_diamond: Because of monthly flea and tick preventives, lice infestations are uncommon in well-cared-for pet dogs. Today, lice are mostly found on elderly, sick, stray, or feral animals.

:small_blue_diamond: Firstly, severe infestations require clipping matted hair off the dog because lice and eggs are likely to be attached to that hair and difficult to dislodge. Flea combs can also be used to remove lice from the rest of the coat. (After use, soak the comb for at least 10 minutes in water mixed with flea shampoo or another insecticide.) A flea comb, on the other hand, will not kill or prevent the eggs from hatching on the dog.

:small_blue_diamond: Many insecticides are effective lice treatments for dogs. Fipronil, imidacloprid, and selamectin are all effective, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). Permethrin topical can be used effectively on dogs.

:small_blue_diamond: Insecticide treatments applied topically or in shampoos will kill nymphs and adults but not the eggs, so any treatment must be repeated at regular intervals for at least a month. Every dog in the house should be treated. Keep an infested dog and his bedding separate from other animals for at least four weeks following treatment.

:small_blue_diamond: To avoid reinfestation, wash all bedding, dog sweaters, leashes, and collars in hot water and thoroughly clean all areas where the dogs spend time. Some veterinarians advise replacing your grooming tools because removing the sticky eggs from combs and brushes can be difficult.

:small_blue_diamond: Lice typically attack dogs in poor health or who live in filthy conditions. Improving the dog’s health through better nutrition, grooming, and housing will help prevent future louse infestations.

:small_blue_diamond: Trim the dog’s matted hair. Lice and eggs will most likely be attached to the hair and difficult to remove.

:small_blue_diamond: Remove lice with flea combs. After that, soak the comb for at least 10 minutes in water mixed with flea shampoo or insecticide.

:small_blue_diamond: Apply a prescription insecticide. If you have cats, be cautious of these products because they may be toxic to them. In light of your dog’s health, breed, and age, consults your veterinarian to see if they are safe to use on him.

:small_blue_diamond: Shaving of the fur. In severe cases, shave your dog completely to expose the skin and lice eggs to the topical insecticide.

:small_blue_diamond: Repeat treatment every month for one month. You must also treat every dog in your household.

:small_blue_diamond: Wash all bedding, clothing, collars, and leashes. To prevent infestation, use hot water and clean all areas where dogs spend time.

:small_blue_diamond: It is recommended that all grooming tools be replaced because removing the eggs from combs and brushes can be difficult.

Precautionary Measures for dog from getting lice

Although you cannot prevent your dog from being exposed to lice, you can prevent an infestation from developing by:

Regular parasite treatment

These treatments are typically applied as spot-ons and can control a variety of parasites, including sucking lice. The best parasite protocol for your dog will be determined by you and your dog, and your veterinarian can assist you in determining which regime is best for you.

Whatever method you use to treat parasites in your dog, consult a veterinarian about the best anti-parasitics available, as many over-the-counter treatments are ineffective.

Taking into account all pets

Although lice do not spread between species, if you have more than one dog, make sure all of them are treated for parasites on a regular basis.


If you notice any changes in your dog’s hair coat, skin, or behaviour, have them checked by a vet who can help control any louse infestation.


Regular grooming can help detect changes in your dog’s skin early, allowing for more effective and rapid treatment.

Healthy adult dogs

have a low risk of contracting a lice infestation.

Protecting Family from Dog Lice

Because lice can take weeks to completely eradicate from your family and home, prevention is far simpler than treatment. Prevent your children from sharing hats, brushes, helmets, and hair accessories with other children. Investigate your grooming and boarding facilities for your pets to ensure they are clean and thoroughly disinfected between each pet.

In Short

Given the right conditions, dogs and cats, as well as pocket pets, certain birds, and livestock, can all become infected. Trichodectes canis and Linognathus setosus are two types of fleas found on dogs (and other canids). Cat lice, also known as Felicola subrostratus, are only found in cats and do not affect humans.

Frequently Asked Questions

Following are some frequently asked questions related to can dogs get lice.

1. How will my vet know if my dog has lice?

A dog owner may notice one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms. A veterinarian, on the other hand, can diagnose lice on a dog by examining the fur or scraping the skin and examining it under a microscope. By inspecting the mouthparts and claws, he will be able to determine whether the lice are chewing or sucking.

As previously stated, the most common locations for lice on the animal’s body are the neck, head, shoulders, tail, and groyne. Furthermore, they are frequently found near skin abrasions.

2. What causes lice in dogs?

Lice, unlike fleas, cannot jump from one host to the next. They are unable to fly or hop. Because they can crawl, infestation occurs only through direct contact with infested animals, bedding, collars, and grooming tools.

Lice are common in dog-friendly environments such as dog shows, daycare, kennels, and parks. As we mentioned at the outset, lice are species-specific, so cats and humans cannot get lice from their dogs.

3. What causes lice in dogs?

Lice can infect dogs in several ways:

  • Other infected canines

  • contaminated grooming tools with lice or their eggs

  • Overcrowding in housing

  • Inadequate sanitation

  • Illness, malnutrition, stress, or old age

4. Can dogs get lice from people?

No, dogs cannot catch lice from humans, and humans cannot catch lice from dogs. Lice are species-specific, which means that dog lice remain on dogs and human lice remain on humans.

5. How do you tell if your dog is infected with lice?

Lice, like fleas, can be seen when the hair is parted, which is why it’s critical to check your dog’s coat on a regular basis. Lice are about the size of a sesame seed and range in colour from yellow to tan. They feed on skin cells, dander, and gland secretions while living on and around hair shafts. They are also found near wounds and body openings.

6. How can lice affect your dog?

A dog with lice is uncomfortably itchy, but that’s not the only issue. Tapeworms can be transmitted to your dog through licking and chewing on their skin. Bacterial skin infections in your dog can also be caused by lice. If you discover lice on your pet, seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid exacerbating the situation.

7. How do you treat dog lice?

The good news is that lice infestations can be controlled. Use a collar, topical, or spray labeled to kill and control lice on your dog. Some flea products are also labeled as effective against lice, so flea prevention can have the added benefit of lice protection.

8. Can lice live in dog hair?

First and foremost, dogs do get lice. They definitely get nits because they get lice. And you can imagine how bad these infestations can get with all of that fur. However, dogs do not contract head lice from their owners.

9. How do I get rid of dog lice in my home?

  • Shampoo your hair with lice shampoo. Wash your dog’s hair with a non-toxic, citrus shampoo containing d-Limonene.

  • Remove nits by hand. Using a fine tooth comb or lice comb, comb your dog thoroughly.

  • Bathe once more. Repeat the bathing process for several days.

  • Items that are clean and pets.

  • Use lemon juice.

10. Do dog lice jump?

Lice, unlike fleas, cannot jump from one host to the next. They are unable to fly or hop. Because they can crawl, infestation occurs only through direct contact with infected animals, bedding, collars, and grooming tools.


Lice on dogs are parasites. They are six-legged, small, flat, wingless insects that live on mammals and birds, specifically on their hair or feathers. Strong claws at the ends of each leg allow them to cling to the hairs. They can be treated at home. They cannot transmit into human.

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