Although dog lice are not as common as fleas are, they can be bothersome in case they grow into an infestation. Lice are tiny insects which suck blood and feed on the dog’s skin. They are most common in situations where hygiene is not observed. Dog lice are not the same as human lice. They attach themselves to the dog and unlike fleas do not jump around. They can be hard to identify with bare eyes and may require a magnifying glass to see them. Additionally, canine lice are not transferable to humans. We explore their symptoms as well as how to get rid of dog lice below.
Dog Lice Infestation Symptoms
When a dog has a lice infestation, they most of the times have itchy skin. Additionally, they may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:
Dogs suffering a lice infestation will scratch more than is normal. This will be accompanied by increased licking. Since lice bite leading to itchy skin, dogs will lick to offer temporary relief. The scratching also helps whenever they are feeling bothered by the itch.
When the dog lice that have infested your pet is the bloodsucking type, there will be bumps on the skin. These can be felt if you run your fingers through the body of your dog. The bumps are as a result of bites inflicted on your pet’s skin.
When the infestation is severe, your dog will lose fur due to excessive scratching. You might, therefore, notice the loss of hair around the neck, on the upper back and the groin area. If left untreated, the bald patches will lead to open wounds as the scratching continues.
Dog lice lay eggs on the skin and running a fine-toothed comb through the fur will see them falling. This are lice eggs which are very small and look like flakes. In case you can see something that looks like flakes, do not assume that it is dead skin. Instead investigate further and see if your dog could be having an infestation. You might notice lice concentrated around the collar and other vulnerable areas.
Other additional signs that dog lice are present in your pet include:
- Excessive licking of the skin.
- Rubbing and biting the skin
- Redness of the skin
- Matted Fur
- Dry coat
Where the infestation is severe, your dog may also suffer anemia. Poor development, lethargy, and weight loss are other symptoms of severe infestation.
How to Get Rid of Dog Lice
Whether you are faced with the challenge of skin chewing or blood-sucking dog lice, the methods on how to get rid of them are the same. Most dog owners find lice easy to treat when compared to ticks and fleas. They are also smaller in size. Here is how to get rid of dog lice.
1. Comb your Dog
With this method, there is a physical removal of dog lice. This can be done using a narrow toothed comb. While this method is labor intensive and time-consuming, it has the advantage of being all natural and chemical free. It is best used on dogs with short fur. For best results, this should be used with other methods. The procedure has to be done repeatedly over time while ensuring every part of the fur is combed. Pay more attention to the ears, groin, and armpits. Any lice caught in the comb should be immersed in hot water to ensure they die.
When trying to get rid of parasitic infestations, it is important to shave off your dog’s fur. While this will help remove some of the lice that could be trapped in matted fur, the main purpose is to expose as much skin surface as possible to products used for treatment. The lice will also have a less favorable environment for reproduction thus reducing infestation.
3. Bathe your Dog Regularly
Regularly bathing your dog with shampoos meant to eliminate dog lice can help. There are different products that are suitable for this. Use shampoos containing organophosphates and pyrethroids. Since shampoo cannot penetrate through the eggs and kill them, regular shampooing is necessary to ensure that oncoming generations get killed too. Using these shampoos as treatment can take up to six weeks before the infestation is eliminated. Follow manufacturer instructions for the best results.
4. Topical Treatments
Pet stores have a wide range of topical treatments for your dog’s infestation. These include powders, sprays, and shampoos. To pick an effective home remedy, choose products that have the following as their ingredients:
In addition, products used for tick and flea infestation can help to not only prevent but also treat dog lice. Fipronil, Imidacloprid, and Selamectin are some other products that your veterinarian may recommend.
CAUTION: Pregnant dogs and puppies are susceptible to some of the chemical treatments. Before using any commercial product on them, talk to your veterinarian and ensure you follow instructions given on how to get rid of dog lice in them.
How to Get Rid Of Dog Lice in the House
Although dog lice are confined to dogs, it is important to keep them out of your house for your pets’ sake. In case you are wondering how to get rid of dog lice in the house, it is pretty simple. All that is required is to ensure your home is clean all the time and put extra efforts into cleaning up for the duration of infestation.
- Since it is hard to know when eggs will hatch or an infestation will strike, ensure that you put a steam cleaning regime in place. Do it at least once in a week for six weeks or more. This will help in getting rid of any residual dog lice eggs.
- To prevent future outbreaks, keep your house sanitary. The dog should live in clean conditions since lice thrive in dirty places.
- In places with multiple dogs, observe them keenly as lice are easily transferred from one host to another.
Dog Lice Treatment and Recovery Period
Mature lice only survive for three to seven days off the host. However, eggs take much longer to hatch. As such, it is important for the mode of treatment adopted to keep going on for four to six weeks. This will give time for all the stages of the lifecycle to take place. During this time, keep the affected dog away from other dogs. This way all the lice are eliminated.
Once the treatment period is over, clean all the grooming tools such as brushes and combs, leashes, crates and any other dog apparel. This way the chances of re-infestation are reduced.
For pups that suffered a severe infestation of blood-sucking type of canine lice, knowing how to get rid of dog lice may not be enough. These may require minerals, vitamins and iron supplements to treat anemia. talk to your veterinarian about the same.