Can Dogs Get Lice? Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
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Can Dogs Get Lice? Yes, dogs can have lice although they are not the same type of lice as those that affect humans. And unlike most external parasites, chewing lice are more frequent in the winter months. The technical name of these insects is Trichodectes canis.
The chewing lice are a family of insects 1 to 2 millimeters long with a buccal apparatus adapted to feed on epithelial remnants of the skin or secretions of their hosts. Adults live 2 to 3 months.
With good light, we can see them with the naked eye among the hairs of the affected dogs. We may also see the eggs (nits) that the females deposit and adhere carefully to the hairs.
These parasites do not suck blood but they feed on keratin flakes of the skin or secretions, and sometimes also blood, as they can injure the epidermis of the host with their jaws. As soon as they move through the fur, they are usually very close to the skin at the base of the hairs.
Lice spend their entire life in the host, growing, reproducing and feeding on their skin. And no, they cannot affect or infect human , only dogs (and other animals)
Can Dogs Get Lice? How do they get to your dog?
The infestation by chewing lice originates by direct contact between infected animals, especially from mother to puppy, in places with great density of dogs, or, by sharing beds, brushes or combs. Contagion is more frequent in environments where hygiene is not adequate.
The presence of these parasites is markedly seasonal, appearing especially in winter when the temperature is low and humidity high.
Lice often affect young dogs, malnourished, with poor hygiene, geriatric or suffering from concurrent diseases.
What are the symptoms?
Chewing lice are usually found on the dog’s head, neck or tail. Or in openings or wounds, looking for moisture.
Symptoms of infestation include: intense itching, the dog scratches, even bites, is especially nervous and restless, your hair may fall out…
What Damages can They Cause?
Since they are scratched and bitten by annoying lice, this can cause skin inflammation and hair loss. The wounds caused by scratching can become infected.
Damage to the skin causes inflammation, excoriation, alopecia and secondary bacterial involvement.
On some occasions, lice behave as hosts of Dipylidium caninum, one of the most frequent intestinal parasites of dogs.
Lice and Pets
It is very unlikely that a healthy pet has lice. They usually appear in malnourished animals, especially in puppies and the elderly. Anyway, if you suspect that your pet may have lice, do not panic! Actually, lice are not too difficult to eliminate, much easier than other parasites, such as fleas or ticks.
Let’s see what are the main species of lice that affect our four-legged friends:
- Felicola subrostratus
It affects cats and is present all over the world. It is a chewing insect of a size between 1.2 and 1.3 mm. In general, it usually proliferates more frequently in old and abandoned cats, especially in longhaired cats.
- Heterodoxus spiniger
It affects dogs and is found on all continents except Europe, although it is originally from Australia, where it passed from the dingoes to the settler dogs. It is a chewing insect of a size of up to 5 mm.
- Trichodectes canis
It affects dogs from all over the world, where it is usually located on the head, neck, ears, and torso. It can measure between 1.5 and 2 mm.
These 3 types of lice can transmit, for example, the so-called Dipylidium caninum, a parasitic worm parasite of canids and felids.
How to Fight the Chewing Lice?
Consult your veterinarian to be clear about the best treatment for your dog, depending on its size, age, etc. In addition, if your dog has scratched and has become injured your veterinarian will tell you what products you should use to soothe his itching and to heal those possible injuries.
Bayer’s Advantix® pipettes are effective in combating chewing lice because they repel and eliminate them.
And, undoubtedly, to prevent them from infecting your dog again, you will have to wash and disinfect the bed of your dog as well as any area of the house where it is usually thrown, carpets, etc.
In addition to the use of repellents, it is important to prevent the appearance of lice: remember to keep your bed and all its surroundings well cleaned, take care of your state of cleanliness and your health, feeding it in a balanced way.