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Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM

Can Pets Catch Human Head Lice?

By August 27, 2012

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Human Head Louse / CDC PhotoQuestions often arise over what diseases our pets can catch from us and vice versa.  Zoonotic diseases are those that are "shared" between animals and humans. What about lice? Is the family dog at risk if the kids have lice? Did the kids catch lice from the cat?

Read this FAQ to find out more about lice; a class of ectoparasites that affect many animals, including humans.

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Image: Human Head Louse / CDC Photo

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April 24, 2008 at 6:57 pm
(1) mother of four says:

I have four children, three of them are girls. Needless to say lice has been a huge issue with our family in the past. I found lice killer products online and we have been lice free for over 6 months and counting!! Check them out for yourself they are safe for all ages, they offer an execellent treatment for your homeand the treatment is even safe for pets. They saved my life!!!

July 10, 2008 at 10:37 am
(2) Jeri says:

Mother of four,

What is the brand of treatment that you found online to work. I have 2 girls that attend several camps during the summer and they have very thick hair and seems to attract lice like magnets. My youngest has been treated 6 times over the course of the last 4 months and they just keep coming back. Help!!

July 26, 2008 at 8:42 pm
(3) Breanna says:

When I was about twelve (six years ago) I had lice that just wouldnt go away. It takes a while to do each night, but there is this comb that vibrates (it looks kind of like a razor) and when it catches a thing of lice… the vibrating stops. then you take this brush and swipe the lice out. (oh and the vibartion kills the lice too) then after each treatment you use alcohol to dip the comb in and kill any extra stuff left on it. I think i had to use it for about a week and they were gone. along with washing pillows and bedsheets and hats and what not.

September 3, 2008 at 11:15 pm
(4) Older Mom says:

My children are now grown, but years ago we had a bout with head lice that simply would not go away…no matter how many times I went through the ‘entire’ routine of heads, furniture, clothes, etc. I had called the Doctor’s office and the health department, but didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. I thought I was going to lose my mind. One day I realized one of my children had lice at the base of her eyelashes! Being unable to use the strong shampoos in this area, I picked them out with a tweezer. That was the end of the lice problem! So…I would recommend you explore the eyelashes and eyebrows if the problem is persistent. (As I said…this is something the Dr. and health department seemed to be unaware of). Best of luck.

September 8, 2008 at 10:30 pm
(5) Kate says:

The answer is no, human and canine lice are species specific. There are some ectoparasites and fungus’ that we can get from our dogs or cats, sarcoptes, ringworm and then the intestinal parasites. So if you are in a constant state of lice infestation at your home (which sucks if you are) then there are things that are not being taken care of.
Another thing, re fleas. They do not want us. so if a human is being bitten, then let the cat bakc into the house. Or maybe you have recently moved into a new home or apartment where a infestation has already been there. THey will bite humans if the 4 legged variety is not available.

July 8, 2009 at 8:30 pm
(6) Dependable Cori says:


The best brand to use, I’ve found, is LiceMD. It is a thick oil that is put in the hair, then combed out with a nit comb,.

October 26, 2009 at 1:03 am
(7) Sherry Sakis says:

this really does work. Growing up over and over our family would alway contract this horrible little bugger. We used every product know to man even doctor prescribed medications. Finally we got the best advice ever. Vaseline !!! better known as petroleum jelly. No meds, no smell, and no harmful chemicals. but it does take a while to wash it all out. Start on a Friday so you have the whole weekend to do it. Completely coat your family’s entire heads with massive amounts of it. Then cover it with a shower cap or some kind of plastic bag ( we used grocery bags…twisted tight and tied tight) then sleep over night like this. When you wake the next day comb through with a nit comb ( do not wash or rinse out the Vaseline before though) the comb will pull the majority of it out. The bugs and eggs will get trapped in it and come out in clumps. Lice bugs breath through there sides the petroleum jelly get stuck in there sides and suffocates them while you sleep. Plus the jelly help the eggs slide right out of your hair. It works wonderfully. hope this helps.

December 30, 2009 at 7:54 pm
(8) theresa says:

i wish i had read the comment from sherry s. about 2 months ago!!! i have two girls, one has very long hair and the other has VERY thick hair, and lice has plagued us for too long! everything we tried has failed! thanks to sherry’s comment, my little girls, and i can get back to our lives!!!

April 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm
(9) Linda says:

I have a son with VERY long thick curly hair … nothing seemed to get all the eggs out until I decided to use a flat iron on his hair. That thing cooked every egg and they combed right out. Made combing it easier too! Thought I would share with anyone not wanting to cut hair. It’s actually easier on long hair than short.

May 2, 2010 at 7:09 pm
(10) Dawn says:

I have used the Vasoline before, and it does work; however, be prepared to spend a lot of time washing it out. Tried shampoo, dishwashing liquid, and finally bought some aveno oatmeal bath powder to soak up the majority of the petroleum. Then washed several times again. This takes serious time. I am trying mayo with my daughter this time. Hope it works. Then I am going to try the flat iron thing to get the nits out. Going on two months every week trying to get rid of them with the chemical shampoo. Awful waste of money and time.

June 10, 2010 at 4:52 pm
(11) gloryboundred says:

I have found that a product in the ethnic hair care section made by LeKair called Cholesterol works GREAT! On the same basis as the Vaseline but you can wash this out easily and as a bonus it leaves your hair soooo soft. Easy to find easy to use, win win. Use the shower cap over night and comb before rinsing, repeat the next night. Good luck!

June 19, 2010 at 11:43 pm
(12) lorr says:

So did the mayonnaise work?

June 28, 2010 at 10:02 am
(13) Teresa says:

yes mayo works. You have to saturate the hair with it and wrap it up tightly with plastic wrap or something like that and leave it on for several hours. I think we left it on my daughters head for about 2 hours then combed it out. I used Dawn dishwashing detergent to wash my daughters hair in the first couple of times and then regular shampoo. It came out pretty easy with it and it took the smell away as well.
We have since been using the LiceMd when ever she comes home with them and it is a God send. It works great and no smell!

September 20, 2010 at 4:00 am
(14) Rachel says:

Mayo & Vaseline! I love natural ways to get rid of things. I will have to try it on my daughters hair. Thanks.

November 6, 2011 at 1:04 am
(15) Jo L. says:

If your kids are getting lice so ofte, I think I’d home school them! We had lice only once ever and felt sooo dirty! It left me tramsized for over a year and I still panic if my head itches. What part of the country are you in? I wonder if it’s a warmer or hotter climent than Colorado.

March 9, 2012 at 10:52 pm
(16) Jill says:

reading about everyones comments about useing vaseline and not getting it out. my daughter put it in her hair and I tryed everything and the two things that worked Dawn dish soap and don’t lol but a bottle of coke. did that and less then 30 min we were off to school. she was playing with it the night before no clue. But use coke to get vaseline out.

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