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Poison Ivy and Pets
May 1, 2020

Did you ever get poison ivy? If so, just thinking about it may make you itch. For humans, coming into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac can have pretty unpleasant ramifications. But did you know that these plants can also affect pets? It’s not extremely common for our animal companions to develop a reaction to poison ivy, but it’s entirely possible. Read on to find out more.

How to Spot Poison Ivy

The best way to avoid that painful, itchy rash is to know how to spot poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Poison oak and poison ivy have sets of three shiny leaflets. (It may help to remember the simple rhyme “leaves of three, let them be.”) Poison sumac, however, has clusters of leaflets, so the three-leaf rule doesn’t really apply to it. Sumac usually grows in swampy or bog-like areas, so you’re more likely to encounter it near water. 

Regardless of what kind of plants grow in your local area, you can try to avoid any trouble by keeping Fido away from shrubbery and thick forested areas when you’re outdoors.

Symptoms in Pets

Unsurprisingly, pets are far less likely to have reactions from poison ivy, oak, or sumac than we are, and for one simple reason. They’re covered in fur! Those pretty coats largely block the irritating agent—an oil called urushiol—from their skin. It is possible, though, for your pet to develop a rash on exposed areas of skin, such as noses or paw pads. The main sign is, of course, a red, bumpy rash. You’ll also probably see your furry buddy scratching or biting intensely at the itchy area. Blisters may appear if the problem persists.

Treating Poison Ivy Rashes

If your furry pal has had an altercation with a poison ivy, oak, or sumac plant, call your vet right away. Bathing them with a pet-safe oatmeal shampoo may help. (Make sure not to get any in your pet’s mouth or eyes.) That should get rid of the urushiol substance and help your pet feel more comfortable. If your pet is still itchy, call your vet. Remember to wear gloves while bathing your pet so that you don’t get any of that irritating substance on your own skin!

If you think your pet is itching because of contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, let your veterinarian know. We’re always here to help!