What are lice?
Lice aren’t just a human problem – they are highly contagious parasites that are particularly common on dogs during the cooler months in Canada. Lice are usually slow moving and can be easily spotted, mimicking little black specs of dirt with clear lining around their bodies.
Dogs are at risk from lice when they come into direct contact with an infected animal or hair from an infected animal. This can happen in dog parks, grooming and boarding facilities, doggie daycare or even a casual interaction on the street. It is important to protect your dog from lice, as lice can pass tapeworms to your dog, and more importantly are highly irritating to your dog.
Will dog lice bite humans?
Fortunately dog lice only live and feed on dogs. Lice are species-specific, meaning the lice that humans get are different than what you may see on a dog. There is no risk to the rest of the family from dog lice so no need to worry. Likewise, humans can’t give lice to dogs.
Have a multi-pet household? While lice are very uncommon in cats, cat lice can only be passed from one cat to another, and are also species-specific. If your dog has lice, don’t panic as dog lice cannot be transferred to cats either, and vice-versa.
What are the symptoms of dog lice?
Lice cause a lot of irritation to dogs, making dog lice symptoms easy to identify.
The most common symptoms of dog lice include:
- Excessive itching and scratching
- Chewing irritated areas
- Hair loss
- Matted coat
How to treat dog lice
Since dog lice attach to the dog’s hair and multiply there, it is important to get rid of the lice as soon as possible. Your veterinarian can recommend an approved veterinary product like Advantage® II or K9 Advantix® II to kill lice on dogs. Dogs undergoing treatment for lice should avoid contact with untreated pets until their treatment is complete since lice are highly contagious to other dogs.