Pet Articles

Dog Lice

What is dog lice? Are they the same type of lice that affect humans? What is the most effective way of getting rid of dog lice?

Sometimes even a clean, well-groomed dog can play a host to different types of unwanted guests. One of these unwanted visitors is called dog lice. Dog lice infestation is not common among dogs in this country, especially those that live in a clean environment and get proper care and attention.

However, you should still be aware of their symptoms and know how to deal with the problem should it occur. Dog lice causes severe irritation and illness to your dog. In addition, dog lice carries disease and complications such as anemia.

Dog lice are flat, gray, wingless parasites that are about a twelfth of an inch long. Dog lice are very slow movers. In fact, they hardly move at all. Dog lice only affect the dogs in your home and are not capable of surviving off of cats and humans.

There are two types of dog lice that exist: The first type of dog lice concentrates on biting the skin and feeding on skin flakes; the other type of dog lice feed on your dog’s blood. Blood sucking lice causes severe irritation because they penetrate the skin of your dog in order to feed.

Signs that your dog is infected with dog lice are heavy, intense scratching, and irritation that often results in bald patches. Dog lice are usually found on the area around the ears, neck, shoulders, and anus. Although dog lice are relatively large, you are more likely to spot their eggs in your dog’s hair. Lice eggs (nits) are easier to see because they are attached to the dog’s hair and look like white tiny flakes of dust.

Treating dog lice is relatively simple and easy due to the fact that they have not built up a resistance to insecticides. Your vet will more likely recommend an insecticide spray or bath to kill them. He may require you to cut off matted hair and wash your dog about once every week with the insecticide.

This procedure is then repeated until the itching is gone and there are no more visible lice eggs. If you have a puppy that is infected with lice, consult your vet first before starting on any kind of pesticide treatment or other type of medication.

To prevent further lice infestation and make sure that all the lice eggs have been completely eliminated, it is a wise idea to throw away all bedding that your dog has lain on during lice infestation and to disinfect the area where he sleeps.

Dog lice – When it is time to see the vet

Chances are that you have noticed lately that your dog’s new favorite hobby is scratching himself in at least three places at once. When you part his coat to examine what is causing the itch and excessive scratching, you notice tiny white dust-like particles that are attached to the hair shafts. What are these tiny particles and why are they causing your dog to itch?

Your dog is suffering from lice infestation. Dog lice are six legged parasites that feed either on your dog’s flesh or their blood, triggering intense itchy reactions. The tiny white particles that are attached to his hair are lice eggs or nits. Although dogs rarely get lice and it is actually more common for people to get human lice, dog lice is still out there and our dogs are not immune to them.

One tiny louse cannot kill your dog, but once that tiny louse decides to invite all his louse friends to live off of your dog, then your pet could literally be eaten alive. If your dog is suffering from a severe case of lice, he could lose about one quarter of his blood volume within months, causing severe anemia or shock.

19 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar marion says:

    Can humans catch lice from a lice infected dog?

  2. Avatar Julia says:

    I just found out my 9 week old puppy has lice. We are treating it at the vet with Advantage but is there something we should be doing with our house? We found one in our bed and one on the wall beside where he sleeps. We have washed all the bedding, vacuumed the carpets and steam cleaned the floor …. anything else we should be doing? I would hate to treat him then find one comes crawling back from under the baseboard and starts the whole process over again :(


    • Avatar Marko says:

      As far as i know, they need to be on the dog to survive and can not be transmitted to humans or cats. So disinfecting the DOG’s area THOUROUGHLY is more important than doing the whole house. I think they MUST be on the dog or in the dog’s bedding/clothing etc. to be a real threat. They won’t survive under a baseboard unless they are attached to something the dog uses.
      Good luck.

  3. Avatar Julia says:

    Thank you so much Marko for all the information :)


  5. Avatar S. Lo says:

    My 3 month old puppy has lice. I want to give her a good bath but should I do anything else while im bathing her?

  6. Avatar shaina says:

    I just moved in with my dad and his papillions had a bad lice infestation. I shaved them and bathed them in lice shampoo, but I am very concerned my dogs (lab and german shepherd) will be infected. I applied flea/tick/lice medication to them and washed the other dogs bedding. They both swim in our chlorinated pool daily. Should I be concerned? Also, do the larvae look like dandruff, or are they at the base of the fur as opposed to the surface?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      I’d be calling my vet for additional tips on what to look for and they might not charge you for general phone information.
      I hope the lice shampoo u used was for DOGS.
      Although I am not a vet, it does sound like u are doing the right thing…but I’m not a vet… you SHOULD be concerned and look through your pet’s fur regularly to make sure the lice and nits are gone.
      YES, the nits (lice eggs) do as far as I know look like dandruff and they can appear either on the base of the hair or the surface of the hair.
      Good luck

  7. Avatar Matt says:

    Hello i’m Matt and my pet dog(Pedro) has lice in his i tried hand picking them out but i can’t do it without hurting pedro can you pls show me an alternate way of getting the lice out without hurting pedro?

  8. Avatar Monica says:

    We found about10 lice on our Shih Tzu. We bathed her in a flea, tick, and lice dog shampoo, letting her soak for at least 5 minutes in the lather. We combed her with a flea comb while the hair was wet and hopefully we got them all. We will repeat this procedure for at least 3 – 4 more times and begin with topical treatments after that. We have no idea how she got them. We have 3 other dogs in the home and they are lice-free but we bathed them anyway to make sure. Sure is creepy.

  9. Avatar bella says:

    is that true, a dog lice can enter into our body through our open entries(holes) like nose, mouth ears and so on.? im afraid to go to sleep might a dog lice crawls into my ears.. someone told me that her friend died because of that incident.. how true? need clarification asap..

    • Avatar Marko says:

      As far as I know, dog lice needs dog blood to survive.

      I do not think a dog louse that enters the human ear would survive…but I am not a medical doctor. Please pose this question to your doctor.
      Good luck!

  10. Avatar Neva Johnson says:

    Hell Marko. I was reading your answers regarding dog lice and you seem quite knowledgeable about the subject. My dachsund has been having a skin problem now for about 2 yrs. off and on. She has a some white seed like things that are on her skin on the base of the hair follicle. I can pull them out of her skin and it will leave a small hole. She loses small patches of hair that are round. (Smaller than a dime size). I have had her to 3 different vets and they all say it is an allergy. So they give her antihistamines with steroids. It helps until she goes off of them, then it comes back. She also smells terrible. They have given me several different types of shampoo to use but it only helps for a day or two. She mostly has the rash on the under part of her neck, in her armpits and legs and some on her belly. I love my little girl dog but she is suffering with this itching and scratching, I don’t want to consider the alternative. Any suggestions?

    • Avatar Marko says:

      Although i have some knowledge, collectively the people on our forum have way more knowledge than I. I encourage you to post this on our forum where other people will respond and provide suggestions in a better back and forth environment.
      Good luck!

  11. Avatar Karen says:

    MFriends kid got lice and I am concerned that my dog could have contracted the lice via their animals. No itching but hair loss on back legs and around the anus and tail. Can this be a result of lice or has anyone experienced with a yorkie the loss of hair only on the lower back and back legs and tail. The upper body grows thick hair but the lower body stays short dry and brittle.

  12. Avatar Amy says:

    Can I give them lice if I ever get it?

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