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Can Dogs Get Lice?

If someone in your household has head lice, you may be worried that they could give lice not only to you and the rest of your family but to your furry friends, as well. But, is this something you need to be concerned about?

Can dogs get lice? While dogs can get lice, they cannot get lice from humans, and we cannot get lice from them. The different types of lice that dogs and humans can get are species-specific. Since dogs can get lice, though, it is important to know the symptoms and how to treat them to get rid of dog lice.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the lice your dog can be affected by and ways to help prevent and treat dog lice.

A dog lice is a very small parasite, which has evolved to feed off of dogs.

There are two different kinds of dog lice. The main difference between these two lice is their mouth shape in comparison to their thorax:

Chewing Lice: these lice have flat heads which allows them to chew up debris on the skin.

Sucking Lice: Sucking lice have pointed mouths which enables them to pierce the hosts skin and drink their blood.

What Are Common Signs of Dog Lice?

The signs for both dogs sucking lice and chewing lice are very similar. You may recognize some or all of the following signs if your dog has lice: 

  • Severe itchiness and constant scratching 
  • Loss of fur, especially near the neck, shoulders, ears, groin, or butt
  • A coat that has become matted, rough, or very dry 
  • Restlessness in addition to the constant scratching 
  • Small infected or wounded spots, often caused by blood-sucking dog lice
  • Tapeworms in your dog’s feces when accompanied by other symptoms 
  • In extreme cases or for puppies and small dogs, the development of anemia 

If you are not entirely sure after consulting this list of symptoms, you can see adult dog lice by checking their fur and parting the hair.

These lice tend to be yellow, brown, or tan, and they are much lighter than fleas, which are almost black. 

The eggs and nits are much smaller and are sometimes mistaken for dandruff.

To tell the difference, you can shake fur that has already come off of the dog. If the clumps come off, they are most likely just dandruff, but if they cling to the fur, it is probably dog lice. 

Dog lice VS fleas

Can Dogs Get Lice? 1
  • Dog lice can only crawl and are usually transferred through close contact.
  • Dog lice can only live up to around 2 days without a host
  • The lifespan of dog lice is about 30 days
  • Female dog lice lay between 30 – 60 eggs in their lifetime 
  • Female lice will attach their eggs (nits) to your dog’s fur
  • Dog lice are species-specific so will not transfer between dogs and humans
Can dogs get lice
  • Fleas can jump from host to host and the furniture inbetween
  • Fleas can live up to 100 days without a host
  • The average lifespan of a flea is around 100 days 
  • Female fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day
  • Flea eggs are not attached and will fall straight off their host onto the floor
  • Fleas are able to feed on a wide variety of warm-blooded vertebrates including humans, dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, and birds

How Do Dogs Get Lice?

Unlike fleas, dog lice cannot jump. These lice also cannot fly, and the adults do not live for very long, falling off of hosts after only a couple of days. Due to these things, dog lice are not very mobile. Dogs usually get lice from other dogs, or from spots or tools that have come into contact with an infected dog. 

Lice only tend to be a threat in places where several dogs will be together, such as at dog parks, grooming centers, or kennels. This does not mean that you should never go to these places, but you may want to monitor your dog afterward and find a new location if you suspect a dog lice issue.

How to Treat Dog Lice

While it is best to prevent lice with monthly treatments for parasites, there are a few ways to rid an infected dog of any chewing or sucking lice. The first thing you should do is clip away matted hair and comb through the fur with an insecticide like selamectin. 

There are also many shampoos with insecticides in them that you can use to treat your dog for lice. Please note that some of these insecticides are toxic to cats. Your dog’s bedding, collar, leash, and any places where they spend a lot of time should be thoroughly washed, as well. 

Lastly, you may want to get rid of your dog’s grooming tools and buy a brand new set. 


Although dogs can get lice, these lice cannot be transferred to humans, and we cannot give dogs our lice either, as lice are species specific. Dog lice are also not very mobile, and preventative treatments each month make an infection much less likely. 

If your dog does become infected with lice, there are many signs that will tip you off, such as constant scratching. Dog lice can be treated with a lot of diligence and insecticides. 


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