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Pet lice don’t infect humans

Q: My daughters keep getting reinfected with head lice. We have a cat and a dog. Could one of our pets be harboring the lice that are infecting my daughters?

A: No. Lice are species specific, which means they stick with one type of host. So human lice attack humans, dog lice target dogs, and cat lice infest cats.

Since other humans are infecting your daughters, you should talk with their health care provider about how to treat their lice and prevent reinfection.

If your pets ever do get lice, you may spot them as small white specks moving through the fur. You’ll more easily see their eggs, called nits, which look like tiny white flecks of dandruff cemented to the hair.


Fortunately, most flea products eliminate and prevent recurrence of lice on cats and dogs. It sounds like human lice are more challenging.

Good luck!

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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