can dogs get poison ivy

Can dogs get poison ivy?

Opinions vary quite a bit are divided whit respect the effects of poison ivy on dogs. Can dogs get poison ivy? Some experts claim dogs are not affected by poison ivy at all and others are affirmative on the threat it poses to your dog’s health.

Since there are reported cases of poison ivy effecting dogs all over the internet and at vets offices, we can only assume that poison ivy can represent a threat to your canine friend. Let’s explore the question into greater details.

appearance poison ivy

Poison ivy on dogs: learning to recognize the signs and symptoms

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicons) is a plant that is native to North America excluding Hawaii and Alaska. It can be found in forests, fields, wetlands, streams, road, parks, and even backyards. In fact, they are most places you will also find our beloved pooches.

Growing in clusters and recognized by its clusters of three leaves in light green to dark green, poison ivy is a threat. Its sap which contains Uroshial oil is found in almost all parts of the plant including the stems, leaves and roots, which is what causes the problems.

Why is poison ivy a problem?

Problems with poison ivy start when your dog (or you for that matter) touches it. Uroshial oil is transferred to the skin and can cause a reaction which is commonly known as contact dermatitis.

poison ivy composition

It should be noted that the oil in the poison ivy plant is long-lived and can be transferred from dogs to their human families and other surfaces.

Contact isn’t the only way poison ivy can affect your dog’s health. Indeed, if it is ingested by the dog, it can lead to death.

Can dogs get poison ivy? Some breeds are more sensitive to it

Some dog breeds are more prone to the effects of poison ivy than others. Dogs with longer, thicker coats will be less likely to experience the effects of poison ivy than short-haired or hairless dogs. Here is a breakdown of breeds based on their reaction to poison ivy poisoning.

Breeds that have less fur and are short legged are more likely to develop symptoms associated with poison ivy contact. Areas of their body such as stomach, nose, muzzle and groin are particularly at risk.

Therefore, this especially applies to small dogs that are closer to the ground. Ingestion is a risk with all breeds as any dog can eat this harmful plant.

What are the symptoms?

Not all dogs will react to a contact with poison ivy in the same way. Sometimes, there are little signs that indicate your dog has symptoms from poison ivy contact or ingestion. The only thing that is certain is that dogs can get poison ivy on them and they feel some reaction to it.

Why is poison ivy a problem

Symptoms they may show are as follows:

  • Intense scratching
  • Intense licking
  • Intense chewing or biting
  • Skin irritation and swelling
  • Blisters, scars or open sores

Both contact and ingestion with poison ivy may result in diarrhea, vomiting and sometimes seizures.

If you suspect your dog has been in contact with poison ivy, check if his gums are very pale and if the paws are cold. If so, the heart beat is usually incredibly fast, but the pulse is rather weak.

What should you do if your dog has been in contact with or ingested the plant?

If you think or know that your dog has eaten poison ivy, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. If he has been vomiting, it may be a good sign, which indicates that his system is trying to stop the toxins from poison ivy spreading around through his body.

keep dogs away from poison ivy

However, sometimes the toxin may prove to be too strong for your dog’s immune system and it can lead to death. Your vet may choose to treat your dog with charcoal to cleanse the stomach and keep him overnight under observation.

If your dog has been in contact with poison ivy, you should follow these instructions:

First put on protective gloves. This will ensure that you do not come in contact with the oil, it can be just as harmful if it comes into contact with human skin.

  • Bathe your dog in warm water using a mild shampoo.
  • Rinse thoroughly to ensure all the soap is removed.
  • Shampoo your dog again, in lukewarm water with the same shampoo.
  • Rinse thoroughly again.

Ensure you wash all furniture, towels, clothing and all other materials or surfaces that your dog may have been in contact with, in a timely manner. You can also give your dog an antihistamine (Benadryl is safe) to prevent or deter any allergic reaction in your dog.

symptoms of poison ivy infection

If your dog is starting to show signs he may have been affected by poison ivy there are some things you can do to reduce the itching, swelling, and discomfort your dog may be feeling.

  • Give him Benadryl if you haven’t already.
  • Rub alcohol to soothe your dog and rinse his coat off after ten minutes. Never put rubbing alcohol on a dog’s genitals or face.
  • Jewel weed can also be used to help with itching. It is typically mashed and used to remove oil from a dog’s fur and skin. It is also capable of soothing when applied to an infected area.

If you have neither rubbing alcohol nor jewel weed, you can use a cold compress and blower on the affected area to cool it down. This cooling process helps prevent blisters and oozing and speeds up the healing process.

Other remedies that are worth a try include plantain leaf, fresh Aloe Vera split leaves, cucumber slices and calamine lotion.

To prevent scratching, biting, licking or rubbing of affected areas you may wish to put an Elizabethan collar on your dog. This will protect areas affected by poison ivy.

If your dog’s reaction seems severe or doesn’t seem to be “normal”, you should contact your veterinarian.

prevent your dog from being in contact with poison ivy

Can dogs get poison ivy? Prevention is critical

The remedy to reactions from poison ivy is not actually a cure. As with everything the key is prevention. Learning what poison ivy looks like (and other poisonous plants) and making sure your dog avoids it at all cost is the best thing you and your dog can do.

Try to keep your dog on his leash as much as possible in places where you might find poison ivy. This is not always possible, your dog needs to exercise band let loose but you must control where he goes. Be careful though and keep an eye out for where your dog is sniffing and roaming.

Even if some so-called experts claim that dogs are not susceptible to this plant, the consequences of touching or even worse, ingesting poison ivy can actually be pretty bad. Even a dog with a thick, long coat can get poisoned either by ingestion or by rubbing parts of his body against the plant.

Make sure you know the areas where this plant grows and keep your dog safe by avoiding them. There are so many other fun places you can bring your dog to!


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