Animal Update: Detecting And Treating Lice On Your Pets

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(photo courtesy: City of Alameda)

(photo courtesy: City of Alameda)

Jeff Bell20100908_KCBS_0122r Jeff Bell
A Bay Area native, Jeff is thrilled to be at KCBS, a station he...
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(CBS SF) – We know that humans – perhaps most often kids – can get head and body lice. Can animals get lice, too?

“Lice are a fairly uncommon parasite on dogs and cats, though we definitely encounter them in practice,” said Dr. Jack Aldridge of the San Francisco SPCA.

There are two types: chewing lice and sucking lice.

“Neither is very pleasant for the patient, though the suckers cause more irritation as they break into the skin and suck blood,” said Aldridge. “Now dog lice are generally only found on dogs from overcrowded or filthy conditions, though lice are a bit more common in younger kittens, especially feral cats.”

There are signs a pet owner should be looking for:

“A dog or cat will typically be quite itchy, with a dry and unkempt hair coat. Now, lice are visible to the naked eye and close inspection of the skin can show a phenomenon known as moving dandruff,” said Aldridge. “Lice lay their eggs in little packets glued onto hair shafts, called nits, and these are also visible and maybe all too familiar to mothers checking their human kids’ heads for lice, as required at school”

Lice are species-specific, meaning human lice don’t infest pets and animal lice don’t attack humans, though a few can crawl around on your skin for a while.

Aldridge recommends seeing your vet right away if you detect lice on your pets. The vet will check for underlying health issues and most likely prescribe a medication that will quickly rid you and your pet of the problem.

KCBS’ Jeff Bell Reports:

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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