Lice Prevention and Control
Firstly, it is important to know that people do not get lice from pets, and vice versa.
The female louse attaches her eggs to an animal’s fur. These are called nits, and will hatch in 7‐10 days. Lice only live around 1 month, during which they progress from nit, to nymph, to louse.
Two types of lice exist: sucking lice and biting lice.
Sucking lice penetrate your pet’s skin and cause discomfort with their continual feeding. These lice feed on blood. Sucking lice do not infect cats.
Biting lice do not penetrate the skin, but cause great irritation to your pet. These lice feed on body secretions, dead skin, and hair. Biting lice infect both cats and dogs.
Does My Pet Have Lice?
Both nits (eggs attached on your pet’s fur) and lice can be seen by the naked eye. Lice have six legs, no wings, and do not move quickly, like fleas do. They are lighter in colour than fleas.
You can use a flea comb to check for nits on your pet’s hairs. The empty shells might look like dandruff, but they will stick to the hair in a way that dead skin would not.
Your pet may tip you off if they have lice by intense, unusual scratching and itching.
How Do I PREVENT and TREAT a Lice Infestation?
We will customize a treatment plan for your cat or dog. The treatment for lice is the same as flea treatment, and we are pleased to provide effective and safe products to help rid your pet of lice:
- Initial bath in flea shampoo if infested
- Monthly liquid pills or a 6 month injectable (for cats). These are non-toxic for animals and people. You must treat all pets in the household. The pills must be given on time and at the end of a good meal. These are especially helpful as insecticide sprays are not desirable, especially with children, pregnancy, asthma, etc.
- Monthly topical treatments on the skin.
At home, you can keep your pet’s coat groomed to assist in the nit removal and lice treatments. Be sure to keep all combs and brushes clean, and have your other pets checked for lice as well.
Once your pet is free of lice, wash blankets, bedding, and any other places your pet likes to rest. Do a thorough cleaning of your home to eradicate any remaining lice.
What Diseases Are Associated with Lice?
The biggest issue with lice is the discomfort to your pet. However, there are some more serious conditions that can arise through lice.
Severe lice infestations can cause anemia from blood loss – this is most commonly seen in puppies and kittens.
Lice can transmit other diseases as well, but this is rare.
The Clarkson Animal Hospital team is ready to help you prevent, diagnose, and treat lice. Contact us for an appointment or if you have any questions.