Dog Lice...the good, the bad, the ugly

Dog Lice—the good, the bad, the ugly

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Image credit Imgflip

Lice seems to be more prevalent in Steamboat Springs than ever before. At Powder Hounds Grooming Salon, we see it more often than fleas. And we see it year-round, which means your dog can even have it in the dead of winter. Here is the good, the bad and the ugly information you need to know about lice.

Look, there’s nothing good about your dog having lice. But there is one good thing to know—you and your kids can not get the lice from your dog (nor can your dogs get it from you). In addition, because lice are species-specific, cats are not susceptible to your dog’s lice either.

Lice are wingless insects that either burrow into the skin or hang on to the hair shaft, feeding off of either the skin or blood of the dog.

Here are the signs that your dog may have lice:

Lots of scratching and itchinessRedness of the skinHair loss—if you have a dog that doesn’t shed and he all of a sudden seems like he is shedding, it’s probably from liceTiny wounds or infections from the lice biting—these typically look like tiny red marksDry, rough coat

How did my dog get this?!

Lice do not fly or jump, so they can get it only through direct contact with other dogs or contact with contaminated objects, such as bedding or brushes.

What does lice look like?

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There are three stages of lice: egg, nymph, and adult. The eggs (nits) can look like dandruff in the hair that doesn’t easily come off and the bugs look like someone took a pepper shaker and shook it into your dog’s coat. They are small, flat, wingless insects with six legs. They are so small, you will probably just barely be able to see the legs. Typically, you will find them clustered around the ears, neck, shoulders and anus.

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Image credit dogbreedinfo.com

My dog has lice. What should I do?

The best way to get rid of lice is to contact your veterinarian for the Simparica pill. The pill will be able to rid your pup of all three stages of the lice. Typically your dog will take this pill for a month.

Once your dog is lice-free, you may want to bring him in to the groomer’s (or do it yourself) for a nice oatmeal bath with a soothing conditioner, as his skin will probably be red and inflamed from the itching. At Powder Hounds, we also offer a hot oil treatment, which would be incredibly soothing for his skin and also nourishing for the hair.

Wash all bedding and grooming tools, and thoroughly clean all areas that your pup frequents, including couches and your own bed, to prevent re-infestation.

Keep him away from other dogs until he has been declared lice-free. If you have multiple dogs, I would recommend giving all of them the pill to be safe. Also, let other owners of dogs that he has been in recent contact with know that he has contracted lice and they may want to check their own dogs for it.

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