Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy?
Published: July 20, 2022
Updated: May 12, 2023
Summary: In this blog, we’ll learn whether dogs can be affected by poison ivy. Can a dog get poison ivy? Is it possible to wash it off? Read on to learn more…
Can A Dog Get Poison Ivy?
Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is found in woody areas throughout most of North America. It can also be found in some parts of Asia. However, rather confusingly, it isn’t considered true ivy! And yes, dogs can be affected by poison ivy although it is uncommon.
Poison ivy is a plant that has woody stems and may grow either as a vine (trailing or climbing) or as a low shrub. It’s commonly recognized by its well-known trifoliate almond-shaped leaves (the leaves are grouped as a three) but it can also form itself like a hairy, thick rope up the sides of trees.
For dogs and their owners alike, poison ivy can pose the biggest threat on woodland walks and hikes. The entire plant (leaves, stems, vines, etc.) contains an oil called urushiol that helps the plant retain water. But, this oil is also responsible for releasing histamine that, when it makes contact with skin, can cause a red, itchy rash that can last for several days. However, the urushiol is so powerful that it can remain present and active even if the plant is dead for up to 5 years and clings to fur and clothing unless it’s properly washed away.
Poison sumac and poison oak also contain this irritating oil.
Poison ivy typically irritates humans more than dogs but, as with every creature, the reaction will vary and most likely be more severe if exposure is repeated or quite substantial. 15-30% of people/dogs don’t even react at all! Our pup’s fur provides some protection, but where there are thinner patches of hair (like the stomach, groin, insides of the legs, muzzle, and nose) or for shorter-haired dogs like a Chinese Crested or French Bulldog, the effects of poison ivy can strike a touch harder.
Poison Ivy On Dogs
Your dog may become exposed to poison ivy by walking through or against it, rolling in it, or eating it. Even though dogs will typically react less severely than humans because their fur adds an extra level of protection, topical signs of a poison ivy reaction in a dog include:
- Swollen skin
- Red, itchy skin (rash)
- Fluid-filled scabs and/or blisters (severe reaction)
These external symptoms can develop anytime from point of contact to up to a week from exposure, but most likely it will be a few days after contact.
If your dog has eaten poison ivy, they may experience vomiting and diarrhea suggestive of gastrointestinal upset and irritation, but poison ivy isn’t known to be fatally toxic. If they’ve eaten a substantial amount of poison ivy, you should contact your vet.
If your dog has poison ivy oil on their fur, this can affect humans who pet them or touch them. If a human is particularly sensitive, just being near the oil can be enough to trigger a reaction.
Although severe reactions aren’t very common in dogs, there is always a risk of anaphylaxis or these signs indicating something more serious, so always contact your vet if you notice any of these symptoms and are concerned.
How To Wash Poison Ivy Off A Dog
If you think your dog may have been exposed to poison ivy, wear gloves and bathe them as soon as you’re able with a shampoo containing oatmeal. Be thorough and properly massage the shampoo into their skin and fur all over. Rinse them thoroughly and be sure to also wash their collar and leash. You should also shower yourself after this to make sure you haven’t gotten any of the oil from their fur on you and to prevent you passing the oil back and forth between you and your dog.
If you’re going on a hike or on a woodland walk with your pooch and want to avoid poison ivy, keep your dog on a leash to keep control over what they’re going near. You should also keep a towel and gloves in your car so you can clean off your dog safely after a walk.
If you spot poison ivy growing in your yard, remove it and dispose of it while wearing gloves as soon as possible.
Can Dogs Die From Poison Ivy?
This is very unlikely. If your pup has eaten poison ivy, it is most likely that any upset will pass by itself unless they’ve eaten a significant amount of it. If their skin is really sore, even after bathing, do try and discourage them from scratching or gnawing at it and allow the skin to recover.
If you’re concerned about the state of their skin or they begin to have any breathing difficulties or don’t seem themselves, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.
“Poison Ivy Poisoning In Dogs” Wag Walking https://wagwalking.com/condition/poison-ivy-poisoning
Author Bauhaus, Jean Marie “Dogs & Poison Ivy: What You Need To Know” Hill’s Pet, Mar 01. 2018 https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/healthcare/can-dogs-get-poison-ivy