Lice, ticks, and fleas are the parasites usually seen on dogs. These parasites are easy to identify on small coat dogs. However, lice are tiny, wingless, flat, six-legged insects mainly attached to the hair shaft of their host.  

Their presence in the hair can lead to skin issues and may trigger bald patches due to frequent scratching. Lice easily transmit from one host to another and possibly transmit diseases as well. So if one dog has lice on their coat, they most probably infect other dogs as well. 

Dogs are prone to get lice on their coat and acquire infections from them. These parasites feed off the skin and blood from the dogs that can be fatal. These lice can be treated and eliminated from your dog’s coat. 

You might have seen your dogs scratching their ear, stomach, and legs. They usually do this when these parasites infect them. They tried to remove them from their coats, so they scratched a lot. 

First of all, you cannot get lice from your dogs or vice versa. If lice suck the blood of a dog, they won’t like to drink human blood. So how do they come over your dog’s hair? How do they infect your dogs? And how to protect your dogs from lice?

We will cover each one of these types of questions and try to solve all of them. So let’s start the article.

What Are Dog Lice? 

Lice are tiny, wingless parasites, mainly brown or black, and stay in the hair shafts of the host. So the dogs with brown or black coats are hard to identify the presence of lice in their hair. Lice usually feed on the skin, sebaceous excretion, and blood of the dogs. 

So the presence of lice can make your dog weak and further trigger various other infections. They have strong claws at the exterior of each leg and use them to attach to the hair shaft. 

Two different types of lice infest dogs-

  • Chewing Lice
  • Sucking Lice

1. Chewing Lice-

These types of lice survive by eating skin debris and sebaceous secretions through their blunt and flatheads. Two main species come in this type of lice- Trichodectes canis and Heterodoxus spiniger. 

T. canis is found worldwide and stays on the hair shaft for at least 30 days. T. canis acts as an intestinal parasite and is infested with tapeworms.  

H. spiniger is found mainly in tropical regions and causes itching and then leads to scratching. H. spiniger is rarely seen on dogs in the Northern region and is mainly seen in the Southern Mexican region. 

2. Sucking Lice-

Sucking lice survive on blood. This type of lice have more likely a pointed mouth which allows them to pierce under the skin to suck their host’s blood. 

The only species found in this type of lice is Linognathus setosus. They are outstretched in tropical and subtropical regions of Northern and Southern countries like America, Africa, India, and Asia.

How to Identify Whether Your Dog has Lice?

Dogs are usually encountering lice on their coat. So if you notice your dog scratches a lot, examine their fur closely by parting them. Examining your dog’s coat by yourself is the best and fastest way to determine the presence of parasites.

The size of adult lice is around 2-4 millimeters and is visible through naked eyes. They are most likely recognized if you see them carefully. 

However, sucking lice attach like ticks and stay in one place for a longer time whereas, chewing lice move more frequently and cover the large area of their host body. 

You will suspect some tiny white dots present in your dog’s hair shafts. These white dots are their eggs, termed as nits, mostly mistaken as dandruff or skin debris. 

Shake your dog’s fur and see if the white dots fall, then it could be dandruff but, if it does not come off, then your dog is struggling with lice. 

What Are The Possible Signs of Lice Infestation in Dogs?

Other than close inspection there are some other signs of lice infestation in dogs that you can observe easily.

Some of the most visible signs are:

  • Extensive itching and scratching
  • Biting and rubbing the infected area
  • A dry, flaky, or matted coat
  • Uneasiness
  • Wounds or skin infections due to bites from sucking lice
  • Bald patches due to scratches and skin infection around ears, neck, shoulders, or rectal area
  • Anemia due to the chronic infestation in small dogs
  • Tapeworms or other intestinal parasites

How Do Dogs Get Lice?

As we all know, lice are tiny parasites. Because of their small size, they have less mobility. They are unable to fly, jump, or hop like other parasites, as they usually crawl. Although their lifespan is not that long, the adult lice die in a few days after falling off the host.

Mode of Transmission-

Lice transmit through direct contact with the infected host or contaminated bedding, dog collars, or grooming tools. All dog kennels, clubs, dog shows, dog care centers, or parks are the places where your dog may infest these parasites.

Three main stages of the life cycle of a louse, after that they die-

  • Egg
  • Nymph
  • Adult

Their life cycle starts when the female lays eggs that are white or yellow. The eggs are present at the base of the hair shafts. Eggs stick with the hair shaft and won’t fall off while shaking or shampooing the dog’s fur. 

Eggs take around one week to hatch and release the immature lice, which are known as nymphs. After one week, the nymph enters the adult stage, repeating the cycle all over again. Hence, one louse lives for around 30 days.

How To Get Rid of These Nasty Dog Lice?

Well-cared dogs are less prone to infest these nasty lice. 

You can try these methods to get rid of lice-

  • Trim or clip off the hair of your dog because lice lay eggs on the hair shaft. Clipping off hair will remove the majority of eggs. Also, make it easier for you to treat them off.
  • You can use flea combs to remove all the parasites from their coat. You can also dip the comb inside the flea repellent shampoo or insecticides. 
  • Various insecticides like Imidacloprid, Selamectin, and Fipronil are the most effective insecticides in the market to kill these nasty lice.
  • You can try some topical repellents as well. For instance- Permethrin is effective for dogs.
  • Whatever treatment you follow for your dog, make sure to repeat the method unless lice eradicate entirely.   
  • Always wash or change the bedding of your infected dog so that he might not get them again. 
  • Also, clean their grooming tools regularly or replace all their grooming tools.
  • Keep his sitting area clean and feed them healthy because sucking lice are known for sucking the blood. Your dog needs to be strong internally.
  • Ask your vet for a complete cure, if not eradicated entirely.