With summer here and poision ivy everywhere, even growing in urban and suburban environments, here’s what you need to know about this poisonous plant and your dog. Poision ivy, identified by its “leaves of three” contains an oil called urushiol, which causes most humans to break out in an unbearably itchy oozing red rash.
So, can your dog get poision ivy too? The bad news is yes she can. But the good news is that it doesn’t happen very often.
For most dogs, the skin is protected by their fur from oil. But, if you have a dog with very thin fur, or a short coat, the oil may be able to penetrate all the way to the skin and cause irritation.
But the biggest problem with poison ivy and dogs is not a rash. The risk comes from the dog actually ingesting the poison ivy leaves. Most dogs who eat the leaves just get a gastrointestinal upset but some dogs can have a very severe allergic reaction, causing her to have difficulty breathing.
While these instances of severe reactions are rare, they have happened and it’s worthwhile to keep a close eye on your dog if you suspect she has eaten the leaves of poison ivy, or any of its cousins; poison oak or poison sumac.
The other problem that can happen is that your dog can get the oils on her fur, perhaps while you are out hiking with her, and then you can pet her, transferring the oils to your hands and skin. If you are highly allergic to poision ivy, which a lot of people are, you can get a bad case of poision ivy yourself, even if you never touched the plant directly.
It’s a good idea, if you think your dog may have been exposed to the oils, to bathe her right away (wear gloves!) and be sure to also wash her collar and leash.
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