Updated on July 19, 2020
By: Karen Sokoloff
This fella? Nah, he won't give you head lice!
Head lice are very picky. There are two things that they absolutely need to survive: number one is blood from a human head and number two is the temperature of the human head. You may wonder in a pinch, will they settle for doggie blood and head temperature. The answer is a resounding no. Actually they don't have to. There are more than enough humans around to ensure their livelihood for many years to come. After all, evolution shows us that it is the survival of the fittest and head lice have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no sign that they are disappearing.
When they show up in your house, it is because a human brought them home. The lice will not leave your head and it is unlikely that a louse crawl will crawl onto the head of your puppy. The same applies for cats, rabbits, mice, gerbils, chinchillas, and any other pets you bringing to your house.
PETS CAN BE A SHORT TERM CARRIER OF LICE BUT THEY CANNOT GET A LICE INFESTATION
There is one exception to this: on very rare occasion a bug will crawl off a human head onto an animal but it will not stay there long as the conditions are not conducive to survival. A dog or cat is like a sofa or a head band for a louse—it may be a landing platform for a short time but lice can not survive there so it will leave as soon as it has access to a human head or until it dies (which would be about one day off of the human head). In the case of head lice, about 98% of cases are passed along through direct contact from human head to another; occasionally, a bug may move onto a intermediate object like a dog or cat or pillow or toy for a few hours hoping to find a human head. It needs to be stated again: This is rare.
WHILE PETS CANNOT GET HEAD LICE, THEY CAN GET ANOTHER KIND OF LICE
While it is rare, dogs and cats can get species-specific lice. What this means is that there are some types of lice that animals can get, but they are not the kind that humans can get. In others words, you can not give lice to your cat or dog, and your cat or dog can not give lice to you. According to The Spruce Pets website, lice are a species-specific parasite and only feed on their chosen species. Each species needs its own species’ blood to survive.
We realize that you are trying to prevent the transmission of lice within your family and to friends, which is very reasonable. Isolating your family pet will not prevent the spread. In fact, your child’s cat or dog or smaller animal may be a great source of comfort to your children during a lice outbreak. In addition, holding the family pet during a lice treatment may help to keep a child calm and patient during lice removal.
If you think you or a family member may have a case of lice, give us a call in the Denton area. We will come to you and check and treat you. Your pet does not need to be checked because we will leave you with a plan that will repel lice so if there is a random bug on your family pet, it will not be able to get into your hair before it dies. (Having said that occasionally a family will ask us to take a look at their pet—the most unusual request was to look at a gerbil—happily it was lice-free!). Call us today at 214-382-9727 and we will ensure that the whole family is lice-free! LiceDoctors makes house calls in Denton and Corinth, Grapevine, Highland Village, Keller, Southlake, The Colony and all other towns and cities in the area.
Check out another article we wrote in this subject: Can Pets Get Head Lice?