Can I Get Lice From or Give Lice to My Pets?

white dog and orange cat cuddling in green grass or bush.

By LiceDoctors Technician, Tammy Burt

The short answer is no, and below LiceDoctors Technician, Tammy, tells you why.

Head lice can only live and feed on a human scalp. composit image of chicken standing on the back of a cat on a dog on a donkey.Each species of animal has its own type of lice that can only live on that particular species. While there are lice that are specific to dogs and cats, they are rare and cannot be transferred to humans. Likewise, head lice cannot be transferred to dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, etc.

Lice do not live for very long on their own the way fleas or bedbugs will. Lice must have the warmth of the human scalp and a constant diet of human blood which they consume every three hours or so to survive for more than a day and a half.

Lice can only live away from the human scalp for 24-36 hours, and then they will die. So if you comb a live louse from your head and it lands on the floor next to your dog or cat, that louse will not scurry for your furry pet and set up house. It simply cannot survive even if it were so inclined. There is no reason to move your pets away from you or your children while lice are being eradicated. young blonde girl lying on the floor snuggling with grey bunny.In fact, your pet can be a great source of comfort, especially for children, while going through the removal process. Removing lice is time-consuming, and a well behaved furry companion that will tolerate being petted can go a long way in keeping children still.

Lice eggs (nits) also will not stay viable once they are removed from the hair. The eggs are “glued” to the hair shaft specifically to keep them where they need to be to stay alive. Once that glue bond is broken, the nit is not sticky or capable of any movement. So if you comb out nits and they fall to the floor or directly onto a pet (or even another person), they cannot reattach themselves to another piece of hair or any other surface; the tiny nymphs (baby lice) inside will quickly perish without the specific temperature the human scalp provides that they need to develop.

What if a dog or cat eats a louse? Fortunately, human head lice do not carry known diseases. So if your dog or cat should ingest a single louse or even many lice, he or she will not get sick, get worms, or other parasites or diseases. It would be icky for sure (to us!) but not harmful.

So please do not sequester your pets while removing lice from your family (unless they are unruly). Let them be a comforting companion.

If you learn that your child in the Rialto and Redlands area has head lice, LiceDoctors is the service to call. Your tech will alleviate your anxiety as soon as they arrive. With knowledge and experience, they will put a finish to your lice problem so your children may return to school. Call any time between 4 am and 9 pm to 951-381-2240 . You will feel better the minute that you do. We guarantee it!