Dogs can get lice. However, there are a couple of things to know about dog lice. The good news is that dog lice cannot be contracted by humans (and vice versa). As for the bad news? You will have a difficult time trying to determine if your dog has lice or if flies and ticks are the issue. For this reason, you have to be a keen observer for any changes you might notice.
Dog lice are very tiny wingless insects with six legs that live in the fur of your dog. Dog lice is unique among dogs, just like human lice is unique to humans. Dog lice, unlike the human variety, are attracted to unwashed fur. Dog lice also breed faster than their human counterparts. Your dog is most likely to pick up lice at places where dogs meet such as daycares.
Dog lice come in two types, namely chewing lice and sucking lice. Chewing lice feed on the surface excretions on the skin as well as skin debris while sucking lice survive on blood. The chewing type is the one that is more likely to cause skin irritations. However, of the two types, your dog is more likely to end up with the chewing type, which may also be accompanied by tapeworms and other diseases.
Signs of Dog Lice
The quickest way to check for lice is for you to check your dog’s skin once you suspect an infestation. You will see the lice crawling around or tightly clinging to the skin in the case of sucking lice. On average, adult lice will have a similar size to a sesame seed and have a color that is close to yellow. To distinguish lice from dandruff, lice will not fall off while dandruff will fall off as little dust flakes. Sucking lice will require you to make a closer examination of the skin by parting the fur. Other signs include dry or matted fur, loss of hair/fur, itchiness, anemia, and small wounds on the fur.
How to Get Rid of Dog Lice
The moment you notice lice, it is likely that the infestation is at least three weeks old. For this reason, you have to act fast or risk serious consequences like anemia and low blood levels. If the infestation is severe, then you may have to shave your dog to get access to the lice while getting rid of them simultaneously. After that, try out pesticides as per the recommendation of the vet who will make sure your dog does not get an incompatible treatment. While you are at it, treat other pets in the house and clean their beddings and favorite spots. In the future, frequent grooming and visits to the vet are effective prevention techniques.