In the past, if you had a cat or dog that suddenly started itching, and perhaps even losing hair, you would likely have thought it had fleas.
But these days even the best-groomed pets can develop lice, particularly if they play with other pets or with people who have lice.
Lice can be a real nuisance for both humans and dogs. They can affect hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes. Lice are parasites that feed on blood.
Typically, lice infest the head and neck, but they may crawl down to other parts of the body.
Dogs can get lice from humans. But there are many differences between dog and human lice.
A veterinarian can identify lice in your dog and recommend the best treatment plan.
Lice in people
A louse is a small parasitic insect. It lives by feeding on the blood of humans or animals. A louse is an external parasite, living on the body surface of a host. Lice are wingless insects that are flattened from side to side.
They are grey or brown to blend into the hair. Lice are external parasites. They don't make a nest, but if they build up in large numbers, they may cause an allergic reaction in the host. Humans and animals can get lice from direct or indirect contact with someone who has a louse infestation.
Lice in pets
The presence of lice in pets can be a concern for a pet owner, not to mention a nuisance. Lice are parasites that feed on the blood of their hosts. They spread through direct contact with an infested animal, although they can also be found on inanimate objects related to the infested animal.
Head lice are a common scalp parasite that can cause uncomfortable itching and scratching. Pet owners should be aware that head lice are not just a problem for humans. Pet head lice are closely related to human head lice and can infest both dogs and cats.
While lice in pets can seem similar to lice in humans, pet lice are more resilient and can withstand harsh environmental conditions. Additionally, they are unable to survive for long periods of time off their host.
Symptoms of Lice on Your Dog
It is estimated that pet owners in the US spend $2 billion a year on their pets. This money is spent on everything from vet visits to food to toys, and even on services to treat lice on dogs!
Lice can be a problem for pets, but fortunately, you have some good options for treating your dog and getting rid of lice. You can choose to apply a lice treatment yourself, or you can bring your pet to a vet.
While lice infestation on humans is a very real problem, the main problem with dog lice is the fact that you can't see them. Even if your dog is scratching and biting at his coat, you may not notice the lice moving unless you actually look for them.
For this reason, you may only notice the damage lice have done to your dog's hair. If you suspect your dog has lice, look for the following signs in your dog's hair:
Symptoms of lice on dogs include hair loss, itching, scratching, redness and inflammation around the ears and face, and other symptoms. If you suspect your dog has lice, take him to the vet for a diagnosis.
If your dog has lice, you may notice small, white, crab spider-like creatures crawling on his skin; feeling small, hard lumps on his skin; black specks in his coat or dirty brown flecks that look like dandruff; or your dog scratching himself excessively.
Treatment of Dog Lice
There are several treatments for dog lice, and there are also several types of lice that affect dogs. Before you begin, you should understand the difference between types of lice. There are two types of lice: Demodex canis and Sarcoptes canis.
Demodex canis is the smaller of the two and is usually found in the ears, face, and eyelids. Sarcoptes canis, on the other hand, lives on the skin of the host (usually the back) and causes scabies. Demodex canis is not as common as Sarcoptes canis.
Lice and ticks are dangerous parasites that spread to your dog and cause health issues. While the most common way to get rid of ticks and lice is to remove them manually, this may not be enough.
These parasites can survive for a few days without a host and they can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the base of the tail and the paws. The only way to get rid of them 100% is to apply a special shampoo to the infected areas on your dog and repeat the procedure after a few days.
If you suspect that you or your pet might have lice, you should try using a lice comb and examine the hair for the presence of lice or nits (which are the eggs that they lay).
If you find lice or nits, it is important to treat both yourself and your pet, as lice can jump from your pet to you.
At-home remedies for lice removal
For mild cases of lice, the best treatment is to keep the pet home from social gatherings until the infestation is gone. If the lice have not spread to other pets or people, use a fine-toothed flea comb and a lice shampoo. The lice will dehydrate and die within 24 hours.
The louse life cycle
The louse life cycle isn't very long. In fact, a louse will only live a few days apart from its host, and it will usually die soon after it molts. After a louse hatches from an egg, it goes through six life stages: egg, nymph, subadult, adult, and then the final molt into a mature adult.
All of these stages are parasitic on the host, feeding on its blood. The adult louse is able to lay eggs and start the life cycle over.
All lice are wingless insects, and they pass through four different stages in their lives: egg, nymph, adult and exuvia. The first three stages are similar to each other, though nymphs are larger and have more developed legs than eggs and adults.
As the louse grows, it molts, or sheds its exuvia. The life cycle from egg to adult takes between 12 and 17 days, dependent upon the temperature, humidity and the species of louse.
Under the microscope, lice look a bit like miniature shrimp without the bodies. Their small size and fast movements make lice difficult to see in the hair, even when you’re looking for them. Lice usually cling close to the base of the hair shaft and feed on the blood of their hosts (you and your pet). Dogs are just as susceptible to lice as humans are, but unlike lice on humans, those on dogs usually aren’t harmful.