Lice in Dogs

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Lice in Dogs
Lice in Dogs (Image: foxypar4: Creativecommons.org)

Lice occur much more often in humans, but dogs can sometimes experience lice infestation as well. Pet owners should be well-informed on the symptoms and treatment for this occasional pet problem.

Identification

Lice may first be seen as tiny white egg casings, called nits, attached to the hair shafts of your dog's fur. As they hatch, six-legged insects will appear.

Lice That Affect Dogs

There are various types of lice, but the two kinds that affect dogs most often are the bloodsucking group, Anoprula, and the skin chewing group, Mallophaga, Two common varieties of dog-biting lice are Trichodectes canis and Heterodoxus spiniger. Linognathus setosus is the only blood-sucking lice associated with canines, and along with the biting lice, do not affect humans.

Transmission

Dogs are usually infested with lice by contact with another infested canine. Lice do not travel in the environment, but can be transmitted by re-infestation through grooming tools, floors, carpets, bedding, kennels and pet carriers that have not been properly washed after an outbreak.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of lice in dogs is a scruffy, dry coat. Secondary to the dry coat, is itching and perhaps hair loss. Severe infestations of blood-sucking lice may cause anemia, most often in puppies.

Treatment

Pet stores carry several brands of lice shampoos containing pyrethrins. Follow up with pyrethrin spray. Powders are not as effective as spray, but may be used in addition to the spray for severe cases of infestation. Wash all pet supplies and bedding.

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