How to Prevent and Treat Lice in Dogs · The Wildest

Skip to main content

Can Dogs Get Lice? How to Treat and Prevent Lice in Dogs

Well, there’s some bad news and some good news with this one.

by Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, DVM
April 4, 2024
Small Beagle dog scratching his leg with mouth.
ulkas / iSt

I hate to break it to you, but yes, dogs can get lice. If you were hoping a more positive answer would come from this particular Google search, I’m sorry. But there’s an upside. Fortunately, lice infestations are quite rare and species-specific, so you don’t need to worry that your dog is going to get lice from your kid if they bring it home from school (an inevitability for many parents). Dogs cannot get lice from people, and vice versa.

How do dogs get lice?

Dogs can get lice in several ways, including lack of proper care, illness or malnourishment, fomites (grooming tools contaminated with lice or lice eggs), or from other dogs. 

What are symptoms of lice in dogs?

Just like in people, dogs infected with lice are itchy. They will scratch their face, neck and bodies, can chew their limbs or hind end, and can act restless or uncomfortable. Additional symptoms include:

  • Matted fur from itching

  • Dry coat

  • Skin redness

  • Restlessness

  • Hair loss

  • Anemia, associated with severe cases of lice

What are the risks of lice infestations if they go untreated?

Over time, if left untreated, lice infestations can result in hair loss, skin irritation or infection, and can impact a dog’s overall quality of life. They can live in the pup’s environment (like your home!) and live on your dog’s bedding, their toys and grooming tools, your furniture, on rugs, and more.

How do you treat and prevent dog lice?

If you believe your dog has lice, it is important to contact your veterinarian so that they can prescribe appropriate treatment for your dog. Thankfully, there are many approved and safe treatments for lice, and many flea preventive medications also help protect against lice. This includes oral, topical/”spot-ons” or spray-on medications. You can also:

  • Keep your pup away from other dogs who might have lice. If there is a report of lice at doggie daycare or their boarding facility, please keep them away.

  • Keep your environment clean with pet-safe cleaning supplies.

Can humans contract lice from dogs?

Fortunately, lice infestations are quite rare and species-specific. This means humans cannot contract lice from dogs, and vice-versa.

When to seek veterinary care for lice

Lice can be diagnosed without the need of any special tools or equipment. If you believe your dog has been in contact with a dog with lice, if they are excessively itchy or uncomfortable, or if you see lice on your dog’s coat, it’s important that you contact your veterinarian for treatment.

Additionally, decontaminating the environment to prevent reinfection is crucial. This includes vacuuming, washing your dog’s bedding (and your own if they share your bed with you!), and cleaning any brushes or grooming tools

FAQs (People also ask):

What do dog lice look like?

Lice are white or tan insects that are attached to the shaft of the hair, and are about the size of a sesame seed.

Can dogs get head lice?

Dogs can get lice, but they can’t get head lice from human beings.


Severe Iron Deficiency Anemia and Lice Infestation

Dr. Gabrielle Fadl

Dr. Gabrielle Fadl, DVM

After graduating from Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Fadl returned to the New York area to pursue a one-year rotating internship and has been working in general practice since. Dr. Fadl loves working in the pet space to foster the powerful human-animal bond. She hopes to continually learn and grow to practice the best quality medicine. Her motto is “Keep calm and try to take it as it comes.”