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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Lice (Pediculosis)




Condition Overview

Lice are not common in dogs. There are two species of lice biting lice, which feed on skin scales, and sucking lice, which feed on the dog's blood and can cause severe protein deficiency and anemia due to blood loss. Adult lice are wingless, pale-colored insects about 2 - 3 millimeters long.


Due to the severe itching and constant irritation, bare spots may be seen where the hair has been rubbed off.


Lice are found primarily on dogs who are run down and poorly kept.


Lice are usually found beneath matted hair around the ears, head, neck shoulders, and in the perineal area. The diagnosis is made by visual identification of adult lice or nits.


Lice show little resistance to treatment and do not live long off their host. They are easily killed with most insecticides, including lime-sulfur, pyrethrins, and pyrethroids. Look for a pyrethrin product containing a 0.05% solution. For more serious infestations however, use 0.15% solution.

The infected dog and all animals who have been in contact with her should be treated every 10 - 14 days for 4 weeks with one of these insecticide shampoos. Infected bedding should be destroyed or thoroughly cleaned with a mild bleach solution, and the dog's sleeping quarters and grooming equipment disinfected.

Benadryl can be given to a severely infested pet suffering from an allergic reaction to the flea bites. Vets recommend giving 1 - 3 mg per pound of weight. Check with your vet for precise dosing instructions.

Severely anemic dogs may require a blood transfusion or vitamins and iron supplements. Supplements containing fatty acids, either alone or in combination with vitamin E and beta-carotene increases certain beneficial fatty acids at the skin level and produces healthier skin which may help to aid the healing process. You can buy a combination supplement like Pet-Tabs Vitamin Supplement in many pet stores. Follow the package instructions for proper dosage.


There are a few topical flea preventatives that are labeled to control lice along with fleas. Frontline Plus and Advantix both control lice.


Please contact your vet or professional grooming salon if your pet is currently suffering from fleas.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats

Publisher: Bantam Dell Publishing, 1996

Website: http://www.randomhouse.com/bantamdell/

Authors: Matthew Hoffman, Laura Catalano, Maryanne Dell

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