Can dogs get poison ivy? They definitely can, and poison ivy on dogs is no joke. If you’ve ever brushed up against this plant, you know how the itching and rash can drive you crazy. Well, the same goes for your dog.
Here’s some information on how you can tell if your dog has encountered poison ivy, and how to treat the problem safely and naturally. You’ll also learn how to prevent this frustrating issue from occurring in the first place.
How to Identify Poison Ivy
In order for you and your dog to be able to steer clear of poison ivy, you first have to be able to identify it. Unfortunately, this plant is found almost everywhere in the U.S. You’ll see it not only in your backyard but just about anywhere else you’ll want to walk your pooch. Poison ivy usually grows in the form of a vine (often snaking up trees and utility poles), or a shrub. The leaves are typically jagged and green, and they come in groups of three. The part of poison ivy that causes allergic skin reactions is the oil that comes from the sap. It’s known as “urushiol,” and it’s found on every part of the plant, including the leaves.1
How to Tell if Your Dog Has Poison Ivy Exposure
Most dogs are fairly well protected against poison ivy, thanks to their fur, which helps protect their skin from exposure to the plant’s oil. However, that oil can sometimes reach their skin and cause a rash.
If poison ivy’s oil is on your dog’s skin, you may first notice several red areas and some raised bumps. You might also see scabs or blisters that ooze liquid. When poison ivy on dogs occurs, they will scratch, chew, or lick the affected areas of their skin on a regular basis. When a dog eats poison ivy, they will usually vomit and have diarrhea.2
Most of the time, however, poison ivy on dogs will result in relatively minor consequences. You won’t need to panic, however. Even if your dog is exposed, the plant doesn’t affect dogs as much as it does humans.3
Treating Poison Ivy Exposure
One of the best things you can do in order to help relieve the itching that comes with exposure to poison ivy is to give your dog a thorough bath using a mild, dog-safe shampoo. Make sure you completely rinse them off and then repeat the process to stay on the safe side. However, know this: Dogs with poison ivy poisoning can actually transfer it to humans as well.
To prevent this, wear gloves when you wash your pup, and be sure to wash all towels you use well, so you and your family won’t be affected. Also, keep your dog off the furniture until their skin clears up.4
Once you’re finished giving your pet a bath, watch them closely in coming hours and days. If they’re still scratching, or if you still see red areas on their skin, you might need a topical cream from your veterinarian. It’s important to address the problem quickly, because all the scratching could lead to sores and infections on your dog’s skin.5
You can also try something called “jewelweed extract” to soothe poison ivy on dogs. This water-soluble extract from a plant called Impatiens balsamina might reduce the itching. Rubbing alcohol can also help take away the itch. You could also try applying a cold compress to the itchy areas. This might help speed healing and keep blisters from forming and ultimately bursting.6
Unfortunately, if your dog continues to scratch, you might have to fit them with an Elizabethan collar, commonly referred to as the “cone of shame.” It might look funny, but a collar can help keep your dog from scratching and biting their skin until the poison ivy on their skin clears up.
Keeping a Bad Problem from Getting Worse
Can dogs get poison ivy? Not only can they get poison ivy, they can also give it to you and to other pets in the household. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening.
When poison ivy oil gets on your dog’s coat, it can easily spread to you. This can result in utter misery for you that results in skin rashes, itching, and swelling that lasts for weeks at a time.7
If you suspect your dog was exposed to poison ivy, take precautions. Put on some rubber gloves and thoroughly wipe down your pup with a damp towel. This will, hopefully, help remove most of the oil from your dog’s fur. Toss the towel in the washing machine immediately, and run it through a cycle (or two) to help prevent you from getting a poison ivy reaction.
Poison Ivy on Dogs: The Last Word
Don’t let the threat of poison ivy keep you and your dog from getting outside and enjoying your time together. Taking some preventive steps can help both you and your dog avoid exposure. But if exposure does occur, taking fast action can keep the problem from getting out of hand.