Can pets get lice from humans?
by Maria P at Lice Clinics Upstate NY
Humans, like many mammals – including cats and dogs – may have lice at some point in their lives. However, the spread of lice between humans and pets is highly unlikely. We will explain why!
Many have heard of head lice as an estimated 6 to 12 million cases of head lice infestation occur each year in theUnited States in children 3 to 11 years of age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But did you know there are over 3000 species of lice including donkey lice, chicken lice and even whale lice? Numerous species of lice parasitize domestic animals. Luckily, lice are largely host specific, living on one species or several closely related species (merckvetmanual.com) and for this reason, don’t transfer from one species to another. In other words, the lice that live, feed and breed on your pet can’t survive on humans (and vice versa).
The Pediculus humanus capitis, or better known as the annoying little tenants that like to live in our hair, is the type found on the human head. This species is different than the type found on your cat or dog. Fortunately, this species of head lice that causes so much panic among school-aged children can’t even live below the human head like body lice.
There are great prevention products that use essential oils such as the line of products made by Lice Clinics of America and sold in our clinics that are effective to ward off lice. These organic products can even be used on pets and to deter other bugs including mosquitoes. However, be careful not to use any pesticidal products sold for other mammals on your family. The treatment prescribed by the veterinarian to eliminate lice, tics or fleas from your dog or your cat, should never be used on humans.