Although dogs can get lice, rest assured it is a different kind of lice than humans get, and much easier to treat. Also it is not transferable to humans or cats.
Dog lice are species specific, so you, your kids, and your cats cannot get lice from your dog. A person with a human form of lice cannot pass it to their dog. Human lice crawl fast; dog lice are almost motionless. The human form of lice likes clean hair. A dog’s coat is not clean enough for human lice to live on.
There are two species of canine lice:
1. Biting (Mallophaga): trichodectus canus and Heterodoxus spiniger (feed on skin flakes and skin)
2. Sucking linognathus piliferus setosus (feed on dogs’ blood and are more irritating)
Cats have one biting louse and that is Felicola subrostratus.
Lice lay eggs (termed nits) on the hair shafts. The lifecycle takes about 21 days to complete.
Females lay up to 100 eggs or nits.
WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE?
They are flat, gray, wingless parasites that are about a twelfth of an inch long. Dog lice are very slow movers. In fact, they hardly move at all. Unlike fleas they do not jump from dog to dog, but dog lice are still spread through dog-to-dog contact. This means if your dog interacts with other dogs on the trail, at the dog park, at your friend’s house or wherever dogs congregate... your dog may catch them.
Symptoms your dog may show:
Picture below of Canine Lice:
What to do If your dog has lice:
You have a few options on how to deal with the problem. Dog lice can cause severe irritation and illness to your dog. In addition, dog lice carries disease and can cause complications such as anemia.
Contact your vet about using Frontline, Advantage, Revolution or other medications given by your vet as a preventative measure, and if your dog has visible lice. It is recommended that you repeat two weeks later. Also you can bathe your dog in a pyrethrin-based shampoo at seven-day intervals.
Revolution is one of the most recommended preventatives, but always consult your vet first.