Lice – Not Just a Problem for Humans!

Lice are flat, six legged, wingless insects that don’t move much or quickly. They spend their entire 21- day life cycle on a pet. They lay eggs, which are called nits, on shafts of the hair and look like white flakes on the hair shaft.

Lice are “host specific”, meaning human lice affect humans, dog lice affect only dogs and cat lice affect only cats. Rarely, a dog or cat louse might end up on a human, but it doesn’t stay there.

Lice cause severe itching and irritation, as well as a dry coat. This almost always causes dogs to lick, rub, scratch, chew and bite the affected areas. In severe cases pets can become lethargic and lose weight. Lice generally congregate around the ears, neck, shoulders, and anus but can be found anywhere on the body.

Adult lice look more like specks of dirt than insects. They can be difficult to detect when only a few are present but your veterinarian can often diagnose a louse infestation just by looking at your pet. Unlike fleas, lice do not jump from one pet to another. However, they can spread by direct physical contact or by contact with contaminated areas.

Lice can not survive for long off their particular host and are therefore are almost never found living freely in the environment. This distinguishes them from fleas, ticks and most other external parasites.

If your pet has a problem with lice, your environment should be well vacuumed. Any bedding, collars or pet clothing should be disposed of or washed well. The good news is there are many treatment options for your pet.

Please contact us so we can discuss which treatment option is best.

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