Oddly enough, dogs and cats can also catch lice. Although we associate these insects with the head of the children, and with the dreaded circulars of the school that warn of their arrival in the classrooms, these unwanted guests can also affect our four-legged friends. And, contrary to what happens with fleas and ticks, the risk of your dog or cat catching lice grows during these winter months.
Lice are flat, six-legged insects and, let’s make it clear, they usually lack wings, so they can’t fly or jump from dog to dog or cat to cat. Their parasitic habits, contrary to what is usually thought, are quite leisurely: they basically grab the hair of our four-legged companions, walk through it with some parsimony and the females deposit their eggs (nits) in the nearest hair areas To the skin. In fact, most dog and cat lice spend their 21 days of life on the same animal.
In addition, there are about 3,000 species of lice, and these insects are tremendously specific: that is, human lice (Pediculus humanus) only affect humans. Dog lice only affect the dog. And the cat louse only affects cats. That is to say: as much as you see an insect wandering through the hair of your dog or your cat, you cannot get it.
Chewing lice and sucking lice: but each one is different
In fact, there are only two species that affect our fellow dogs: the one known as chewing louse (Trichodectes canis) and the so-called sucking louse (Linognathus setosus). Although these names seem taken from a dog horror movie, the truth is that they are very graphic when describing their main form of feeding: while the chewing louse eats the remains or secretions of skin (epithelium) of our friend, The sucker has a sharp head that allows him to feed directly on his blood. That is: as repulsive as frightening.
On the other hand, there is only one type of louse that affects cats: Felicola subrostrata, another chewer, but in turn different from the insect that bites the dog. The good news: lice are not, by far, as frequent in dogs and cats as fleas or ticks are.
How do I know if the cat or dog has caught lice?
If your cat or dog starts scratching and rubbing insistently or plucking hair plugs and you start to find these little cotton balls spinning around the house, you should worry. Sometimes the infected area is nibbled to the point that the hair on its legs or stomach begins to clear. In fact, parasites can induce an allergic reaction in our furry friend who, above all, responds to insect saliva. All this increases itching and discomfort.
How do we get rid of lice?
The best thing in these cases is to prevent rather than cure. For this, there are complete external pipettes that repel and eliminate lice, in addition to attacking other parasites such as fleas, ticks and mites. There are also oral treatments, very comfortable because they come in the form of a pill of attractive flavors, repulsive soaps and there are even insecticidal sprays.
The doctor of our dog or cat can give us the appropriate medication to end it. And surely we need a fine barbed comb to end the nits: although if the infection has gotten out of hand, the veterinarian can advise us to cut the hair, especially in long-haired animals. With patience, lice and their sticky eggs will eventually abandon our friends.