WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HUMAN LICE AND PET LICE?
Can animals get lice from humans? Head lice need the specific environment of a human host to survive. They need to stay within the temperature of a human and feed on human blood to survive. Human hair is the ideal shape, texture, and growth rate for head lice to lay their eggs. These parasites can't even thrive in other hairy human body parts, let alone on a different species.
But can humans get animal lice? The species specific lice that live on family pets and other species could potentially bite you when you hug your pets, but those species of lice cannot survive to infest your skin.
PETS CAN'T KEEP LICE, BUT THEY CAN TRANSPORT THEM
Can pets get lice from humans? School aged children are the most likely children to bring lice into the house. They also generally have the closest contact with the pets. Theoretically, adult lice could fall onto a pet and be spread that way to the next child who hugs the pet. But how long can head lice live on pets? Typically, the lice won't live long enough on pets for the pet to spread them around the household. Since normal body temperature for canines, for example, is 101-102.5 degrees, they do not provide a hospitable enough environment to allow lice to survive. So when treating lice on your child, the pets get a pass to skip treatment. LiceDoctors' method of treating head lice on people ensures that all humans are protected until any lice in the house - or on the pets - die before they're able to re-infest the people.
WHAT TYPES OF LICE CAN PETS CATCH?
Can pets get lice? While pets get lice occasionally, they are actually catching other parasites that are referred to as "lice", but are specific to their species. Cats catch Felicola subrostrata from other felines. Dogs catch Trichodectes canis and Linognathus setosus from other canines. Other animals have their own species specific lice.
Aside from lice, other animals are plagued by other types of blood sucking parasites with six legs, like fleas. When you find lice and nits on the skin, fur, or feathers of an itching animal, especially in the absence of any itching on the people, it's pretty safe to assume it's another species of animal lice.
CAN DOGS GET LICE?
Many families today have one or more pooches in their home. Often, children share the responsibility of caring for these loyal pets, so it would be natural to be concerned with can dogs get head lice from an infested family member or not. You may or may not be surprised to learn that, no, dogs cannot get head lice from a human. While dogs do get dog lice, which is specific to their species, they cannot get the human type of head lice from the family they live with.
Can Dogs Get Lice From Humans?
When considering if you can get your dog's lice strain, Trichodectes canis, the same principle applies. Can dogs get head lice? The type of lice that infest canines need the specific environment that your pet's body provides to be able to survive. So no, you will not get dog lice from your furry family friend. But what if a live bug falls off of your child who has a case of head lice and onto your dog? Can a dog carry lice from one person to another much the same way that a sofa, theater seat, rug, hair brush, or a piece of clothing would? Yes, while incredibly rare, it is possible that pups can provide a short term landing spot for live bugs. However, they can only survive there for about 24 hours (or likely less) before they die. So if someone picks up pets or cuddles with the family dog and a live louse has just arrived there, that bug can then climb out and onto a person and up to his or her hair. Rest assured, however, that by far, the most common way head lice spreads is by direct contact of one person's head with another person's head who has a lice infestation. Lice do not like to leave the comfort of a human scalp and the food supply it provides (blood) so the likelihood of this is slim.
CAN CATS GET LICE?
There is a form of cat lice that can infest a feline called Felicola subrostrata. However, the same principles apply with cat lice as they do for dog lice. The type of lice that your house cat can get is not interested in moving out and onto a human head so there is no need to quarantine your cat away from your infested child.
Can Cats Get Lice From Humans?
The body temperature of cats is similar to that of dogs and is higher than the temperature of humans. In some cases, a human louse will not venture away from its cozy home of one human for another human, much less onto an environment that is not suitable for sustaining its life. Off the human head, lice can only survive for a maximum of a day before starving to death. So, if a louse happens to climb, fall, or is otherwise transported off the human head and onto the household cat or cats, the louse will die soon thereafter. During that time, it will not be able to feed or reproduce and, therefore, will not infest your cat.
CAN YOU GET LICE FROM A HORSE?
If you or your child likes to horseback ride or just pet a horse, you need not worry about catching head lice. A horse may act like a vector like an inanimate object but the lice found on a horse is again not compatible with humans. Horses can get two types of lice, neither of which infest humans.
CAN YOU GET LICE FROM GOATS?
Seeing a pattern here? As with other animals who have lice, goat lice are species specific and, therefore, only infest goats. You cannot catch lice or other parasites from a goat.
CAN YOU GET LICE FROM CHICKENS?
Chickens don't carry head lice. They get a type of lice called Menoponidae, which doesn't bite but eats debris, like skin flakes. Lice on chickens don't affect humans.
Can You Get Lice From Birds?
What people call bird lice are really mites. While mites can cause problems for people, mites/bird lice will not infest human hair as head lice do.
CAN YOU GET LICE FROM RATS AND HAMSTERS?
GET LICE FROM
Here it gets tricky. You can not get head lice from any rodents, but rodents may pass their species lice to other rodent species. In other words, a rat can covey lice to a pet hamster. If you have both types of pets and one gets lice, keep them separated.
CAN YOU GET LICE FROM FLIES?
No, you can not pick up lice from flies or other insects (other than lice!). One type of fly that carries a contagion called babesiosis is not found in the US. While we know that ticks can carry Lyme disease, no insects carry head lice.
People don't catch lice from pets, and pets don't catch lice from people. Family pets provide comfort to your child, and fortunately, there is no need to be concerned about your pets touching your child and transferring a lice infestation. While a louse may fall onto and be transported by an animal, it will die within about a day if it can't find a susceptible human host.
If, however, your pets have lice or your farm animals seem to be itching from lice, mites, fleas, or other blood sucking insects, NEVER use head lice treatments designed for people on them! Contact your vet for the appropriate treatment for those insects and their eggs.
You mainly need to worry about getting the bugs and nits off the humans during head lice treatment, and protecting the hair to avoid re-infestation. Give LiceDoctors a call at 800-224-2537 to book an appointment, and an experienced lice professional will be at your home today to provide lice treatment that is safe for all humans. Your technician will make sure that the lice are gone, and will get you back to your every day life, free from lice and nits.