We all know that fleas and ticks are more commonly found on dogs and other pets than humans. And the opposite could be said when it comes to lice. 

But still, though, have you ever wondered if there is such a thing as pet lice? Or can our dogs, and in some instances pets like cats, get lice? Well, that is what we are here to find out!

What Are Lice?

But first, what exactly are lice? Lice are flightless insects that live in a mammal’s hair or fur. They feed mostly on skin cells and excretions of their host. But they can also suck the host’s blood, much like fleas and ticks. Lice can cause irritation, itch, and even anemia in severe cases. 

Can Dogs Get Lice?

Now that we know what they are, the question is, can dogs have lice? And, unfortunately the answer is yes, they can. But there’s more to the story. 

A louse that lives on a human’s hair is different from dog lice or other lice found on different animal species. And human lice are not transferable to dogs and the same could be said of the opposite situation. Dog lice are also not transferable to cats and other pets.

How Can Dogs Get Lice?

Knowing that, how exactly can dogs get lice? Well, there are a couple of ways our pets can get lice. One of the most common ways for a dog to get infected by these nasty pests is by coming in contact with another infected dog/s. 

Another way is if your dog’s beddings or grooming equipment is contaminated with lice. Poor sanitation can also be the cause for lice infestation. 

Types of Lice That Affect Dogs

There are two types of lice that infest our furry partners. The first one is called trichodectes canis. This species is also known as the chewing louse. They are called that because they grip onto the host’s fur and chew its dead skin using their large and wide mouthparts. They are common dog lice and they can transmit and cause tapeworms for dogs. 

The other species is called linognathus setosus. It is also known commonly as the sucking louse. This species grip on the host’s fur and, similar to ticks and fleas, they suck off the blood of our pets. They are more common in cold environments and can usually be found in long-hair breeds. 


Lice can cause irritations and itch, and that causes your dog to scratch and bite their skin which can result in skin damage and infection. And just like what was said earlier, chewing lice can transmit intestinal tapeworms. Sucking lice can cause anemia in severe cases. 


There are numerous ways to treat dog lice infestation. You can buy treatment shampoos, sprays, or powders in pet stores. Most of these products usually contain these three active ingredients:

  • Lime-sulfur
  • Pyrethrin
  • Pyrethroid

However, flea treatment products may also be used to exterminate dog lice. Preventive medications and treatment, avoiding contact with an infected dog (or object), and having a clean environment are great preventive measures to make sure your dog does not get infected with lice.

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