can dogs get lice?

Can You Get Head Lice From Your Dog?

So much hair.

Completely covered in hair and so many breeds shed all over the place. Is it possible to get lice from dog hair? Can these cuddly creatures bring lice into your house and spread it to everyone?

Fido runs out the door and rubs up against who knows what. Plants, garbage, other dogs…your pet is in contact with all of it. And there is no amount of explanation that will keep your dog from acting like a dog! She is a dog, afterall.

Bugs of all sorts are associated with the sorts of places dogs like to be outside. Dogs can pick up fleas or ticks, so surely they can bring lice into the house, right?

Can Dogs Get Lice?

It is not too common, but dogs can, in fact, get lice. Typically, a dog will get a lice infestation when coming into contact with another dog that is already infested.

Dogs becoming infested with lice and transferring the infestation to people is such a reasonable idea. But before I give you a straight answer, let me give you a little background so that the answer will make sense.

Head Lice Specialization

There are a few different types of lice, but we are talking about head lice here.

Lice live off of their host. They need the body heat and the blood of their host in order to survive. They cannot survive for more than a couple of days apart from a blood meal. That is to say, unsanitary conditions have nothing to do with the presence of lice. Lice cannot survive off of garbage, for example. They need their host, so the transfer of lice is almost exclusively from direct contact with an infested host.

Going back to lice on dogs, the information above shows that you don’t have to worry about lice just because your dog rolls in the dirt or digs through a garbage can…just worry about a good bath!

The second thing to point out is that lice species are adapted for their specific host. The specificity seems to come in their claws. The claws of species of lice are adapted to be able to hold onto particular types of hair and not others.

One article traces the history of head lice we have here in North America. These lice are adapted so specifically to European descendents that they seem to have trouble holding onto the hair of African Americans. This fact is part of why there is the somewhat misleading belief that black people can’t get head lice, but that is a different article.  

Now back to our discussion of lice transferring from dogs to humans.

Can Dogs Transfer Lice to Humans?

The short answer, as you may have figured out by now, is no. Lice are so specifically adapted to their host that they cannot transfer from one species to another.

Yes, your dog can get lice.

Yes, you can get lice.

No, you don’t need to worry about transferring between you and your best friend.

For humans, head lice is transferred, almost exclusively, by direct head to head contact with an infested person. That infested person may even have pristine hygiene.

If you do end up getting head lice the first thing to do is to remember not to blame your dog!

lice from dogs

Good dog!

In fact, consider spending a few minutes petting your dog to relax. Treating lice does not need to be that big of a deal anymore.

Next, look up the nearest Lice Clinics of America facility. Schedule an appointment and in about 90 minutes you can have your lice infestation ended. The Lice Clinics of America use a fantastic device that kills both lice and nits without needing to use chemicals. The lice will be gone and you won’t be exposed to harmful chemicals.

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