While lice may not be as common as fleas, they may still cause unpleasantness in some pets, particularly pets that are very young, elderly, or sick. There are two forms of lice that affect cats and dogs: sucking lice (blood sucking) and chewing lice.

Chewing lice are small, flat, wingless insects that feed on the dead skin of the pet. Unlike ticks and fleas, they are species-specific, so various kinds of lice target cats, dogs, and humans with no chance of cross-species transmission. Cat or dog lice are somewhat different from human lice — they are 6-legged, and they prefer to remain in one position at the base of the fur. Besides causing discomfort, they can bring diseases or spread tapeworms to pets.

Clinical signs Associated With Canine Lice

Symptoms seen in infested dogs include:
• Frequent itching and scratching
• Dry scruffy-looking coat
• Hair loss, most often around the head, neck, shoulders, groin and rectal region
• Anemia, especially in puppies and small dogs and, in specific, serious infestation.

Recommended: Giardia Rapid Test in dog.

How Are Dog Lice Transmitted?

Lice are transmitted through direct contact with the infested animal or through contact with bedding or grooming equipment which are infected with nits. They are more common in crowded, filthy environments and in animals with little human interaction, but they can definitely occur in any pet that has been exposed to them.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Lice

Diagnosis is easily achieved by visually seeing the lice or their nits (eggs) in the fur. Adult lice are flat, six-legged, wingless insects. Nits can be seen attached to each hair shaft and appear as tiny white dots.

There is a wide range of shampoos, as well as insecticide sprays and powders that are effective in killing lice. It might be appropriate to treat your dog more than once to kill developing nits as they hatch. Follow the instructions of your veterinarian closely, as these products can be harsh on some dogs, especially puppies.

In situations where your dog's fur is badly matted, it might be important to shave the fur to make sure it gets to the deeper lice and their nits.

What Can I Do To Prevent Dog Lice?

Get your dog groomed daily on a professional basis. If your groomers notice something strange, they'll let you know. You should speak to your vet for preventive care. It is recommended that you place your dog on one of these regimens if you take your dog to a doggy daycare. There are several natural options that supplement garlic and vitamin B, but stronger monthly treatments available from your vet are effective.

Author's Bio: 

Adam Christ United States, California