Human lice need human blood to survive, dog lice need dog blood, and so on. Therefore, if your child comes home from school with a diagnosis of head lice, your dog, cat, or other pets in the household are not at risk from catching the lice or hatching eggs. Conversely, while not as common in dogs and cats, the species of lice that live on dogs and cats are not able to live on humans.
While not an immediate threat to health, human head lice is very contagious and is not an indicator of poor personal hygiene. Lice are not as common in healthy dogs and cats as they are in humans. Poor nutrition, poor overall health, and very old or young dogs and cats are most at risk for lice infestation.
If your child has been diagnosed with lice, please see your health care provider for treatments and methods of egg (nit) removal from the hair, scalp, bedding and clothing.
If you suspect that your pet has lice or other ectoparasites, please see your vet for a definitive diagnosis. Lice are much easier to treat than other parasites such as fleas, and your vet will be able to recommend the best medicated shampoo, spray or spot-on treatment for your pet to get rid of the lice.
More About Lice and Pets: Can My Family Become Infested with Lice From Our Pet?
Glossary term: Pediculosis
Several species of lice and animal hosts are discussed
From the Merck Veterinary Manual
Lice Infestation in Humans
From the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Head Lice in Kids
All About Head Lice