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How are lice different from fleas?

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Insect infestations are a common problem among pets. Many owners usually do not distinguish between these parasites, mistakenly identifying them as fleas. Head lice can also be a nuisance. It is important to distinguish between these parasites and choose the appropriate therapy to treat them, preventing potential health consequences for your pets.

About Fleas

Fleas are wingless blood-sucking insects with an elongated nose and developed hind legs, allowing them to jump up to 40 cm both vertically and horizontally. These dangerous ecoparasites can carry various diseases such as leptospirosis and plague. Living in the fur of animals, bedding and floor crevices, fleas actively move, suck blood and lay eggs, contributing to their rapid reproduction. Flea bites can cause itching and dermatitis, and their saliva can cause allergic reactions. They can be a source of infection with various diseases, such as plague, tularemia and others. Fleas can also infect their hosts with worms, such as cucumber tapeworm.

About Lice

Lice are small ecoparasites with a teardrop-shaped body and mouthparts designed to pierce the host's skin. They live on the scalp, causing discomfort and itching. Lice produce nits that are firmly attached to the hairs and can be difficult to detect, especially on light-colored coats. These insects are species specific and are not able to switch from one animal species to another. Their presence can cause allergic reactions and dermatitis, as well as lead to deterioration in coat quality and even anemia due to constant bites.

how to distinguish lice and fleas

Types of lice in humans

1. Head lice are the most common type and are transmitted from person to person through direct contact with hair or personal hygiene items.
2. Body louse is also transmitted by tactile contact, but can rarely be transmitted through linen or household items. Nits of this type are deposited in the folds of clothing.
3. Pubic lice are transmitted mainly through intimate contact and through bedding.

Symptoms of lice include itching, gray-blue spots on the skin, nits in the hair, as well as wounds and pustules in places where they were scratched. It may take several weeks from the moment of infection with ecoparasites to the appearance of symptoms. Symptoms of lice have a number of unique characteristics, such as a pronounced puncture point in the center of the inflamed area of ​​​​the skin, bruises at the bite sites and their chaotic location on open areas of the body.

About lice eaters

These ectoparasites differ from lice in appearance and feeding method. Lice eaters constantly live on domestic animals, feeding not on blood, but on particles of skin and fur. They have a gnawing type mouthparts and three pairs of legs, which allows them to firmly attach to the host’s body. The incubation period for their eggs is approximately 3 weeks, and each female is capable of laying up to 70 eggs at a time, allowing for a high rate of reproduction. The presence of these insects can be identified by characteristic signs, such as itching, baldness on the pet’s body, the formation of scratching and inflammatory processes on damaged skin, as well as the possible development of dermatitis.

How are lice different from fleas?

Lice and fleas, despite their similarity in food preferences, have a number of differences in their behavior:

• Appearance: Fleas are round in shape with long hind legs, while lice are oval and have bright pigmentation on the sides. The legs of lice are located near the head.
• Habitat: lice feed only on human blood, while fleas use the blood of warm-blooded animals and attack people only if there is a lack of food supply.
• Bite system: Lice attack in a random pattern, while flea bites form a characteristic chain.
Lice prefer to stay on one host, while fleas constantly migrate in search of new victims.

what is the difference between lice and fleas

How to distinguish lice from fleas

When determining the differences between fleas and lice, experts advise paying attention to the characteristic features of the insects' appearance. Fleas have a round body shape and legs that resemble a grasshopper. Lice, on the other hand, with their seed-shaped shape, typically have dark spots on the sides of their bodies. In addition, fleas very rarely bite people, except in situations where there is no suitable animal to feed on. They actively jump, while lice move by crawling.

How to distinguish between lice and flea bites

To begin treatment correctly, it is important to accurately identify the parasite on your pet. Lice differ from fleas in that they feed on particles of the animal's epithelium, which leads to the appearance of characteristic wounds. This process can eventually lead to your cat developing dermatitis. The animal begins to itch intensely, and sometimes even tears out its fur due to severe itching. On the other hand, fleas leave individual bites when they jump onto an animal to drink blood. They prefer to attack exposed areas of the epithelium and do not hide in the fur for a long time. To distinguish between types of parasites, you should pay attention to the following signs:

• Fleas are usually larger than lice, since the latter rarely reach sizes larger than 5 mm;
• Lice cannot jump and move along the cat’s surface at a speed of no more than 15 cm per minute;
• Cat lice do not bite humans;
• The body color of fleas is usually much darker.

Another interesting fact is that lice have no eyes, while fleas have a pair of primitively developed eyeballs. Differences between species also appear at the egg laying stage. If your pet is infected, you will usually notice a large number of nits on the fur.

How to get rid of lice from a pet?

Treatment should begin as soon as signs of a parasitic infection are detected in your pet. Often the cause of lice infestation in cats is walking outside, during which they can easily become infected from other animals. Pay attention to the following symptoms:

• Changes in the coat, such as dryness and hair loss;
• Local areas begin to peel off;
• Intense itching;
• Anemia in advanced cases.

If you carefully examine the fur, you may find nits that will be visible even without special tools. It is important not to panic when an infestation is discovered, but instead to start looking for specialized insectoacaricidal agents. When using products such as drops, sprays, shampoos and collars, it is important to read the instructions carefully and follow the manufacturer's recommendations.

The drops are a concentrated preparation that is applied to the cat’s withers and provides long-term protection against fleas. Sprays are also effective and help moisturize dry and damaged coats. When using the spray, it is important to use a protective collar to prevent the product from being licked off. Shampoos and collars provide a comprehensive effect and are suitable in case of simultaneous flea and lice infestations. Before using any medications, it is recommended to consult a veterinarian to avoid possible side effects and allergic reactions in your pet.

Fleas vs. Lice: What's the Difference?

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