Can we get head lice and nits from dogs, cats, stuffed animals, and other things?
Are you or your loved ones getting head lice and nits from animals? What about stuffed, plush toys? What about our couch, carpet, and beds?
There is good and bad news: Maybe. As with most things, it is not a straight answer. There are a lot of variables.
Head lice can only get nutrition from human blood. Head Lice have digestive enzymes that can only use human blood for nutritional value. Now, if they wind up on another animal, they may certainly get desperate enough to try to eat that blood.
Think of it this way...If you were stranded in a field for days on end without food, you may try to eat grass or dandelions or flowers. Now, while you may be able to eat them, the nutritional value is not enough to sustain you. This is why we currently don't eat grass, our body cannot process it. Even cows and horses have to continually eat to get enough nutrition. It is the same with head lice. They may be able to eat other blood, but they will not live. Consequently and instinctively, they try to get to a human.
I refer to pets, stuffed animals, furniture, and even resistant humans as "Carriers". They can carry the head lice but don't really keep it. The lice seek humans that are most compatible for life and reproduction for themselves. Believe it or not, some humans are less compatible for head lice. People who have a more oily scalp and do not wash often repel lice more than those who are overly clean!
Should I treat my pets with some sort of lice treatment?
I suggest: no. Treat the human, not the animals. Head lice and nits can not live on anything other than humans. Maybe they can live temporarily, but not permanently. If you treat the human(s) that either have lice or are in contact, you will get rid of them even if they can temporarily live on other items. If you are really concerned and want to be proactive, there is a spray for linens $7.99 Linen Spray that you can use to try to repel lice from inanimate objests. I have never used it on pets or animals so I am reluctant to offer it for that use.
The bottom line is that YES...
...pets, and inanimate objects can carry lice but they can not live on them for any longer than 24-48 hours. Treat the human(s) and it will solve your lice problem.
Written by: Darren Serhal
23 year Pediculosis Expert