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Can My Pet Get Poison Ivy?

June 15, 2020

Poison ivy, as well as its common counterparts poison oak and sumac, are a real nuisance during the warmer months. You know to avoid it whenever possible, but what about your pet? Can pets even get a rash from poison plants? The answer is yes, although it’s not very common. Learn more below from your Bourne, MA vet.

Symptoms of Poison Ivy in Pets

There’s a simple reason that pets aren’t very likely to get a rash from poison ivy, oak, or sumac: they’re covered in fur, which prevents the irritating substance (urushiol) from reaching the bare skin. So, even if they rub against a poison plant, it probably won’t cause any problems. However, it is possible for the substance to reach areas of the body that aren’t totally covered in fur. Just like in humans, the plant will cause a red, itchy rash that your pet will scratch at. If it’s not dealt with, your pet could develop blisters and scabs from the self-traumatization.

Treating Poison Ivy Rashes in Pets

In most cases, bathing your pet with an animal-safe oatmeal shampoo will get rid of the urushiol on your pet’s body and help them to feel more comfortable. Take care not to get shampoo in your pet’s eyes, ears, or mouth. And remember to always wear long latex gloves while bathing your pet—often, humans contract the rash when the substance moves from their pet’s fur to their skin!

If your pet is still itchy after several baths and you can’t seem to get rid of the rash, let your veterinarian know. You’ll be able to work together to find a solution that helps your pet stop feeling itchy.

Spotting Poison Ivy

Of course, the best way to deal with a rash caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac is to avoid the plants in the first place. Know what to look for so that you can avoid these plants while you’re outdoors with your pet. Poison ivy and oak have sets of three leaflets, and the leaves are shiny. Remember the simple rhyme “leaves of three, let them be,” to help you spot them. Poison sumac has clusters of leaflets, so this rhyme doesn’t really help, but this kind of poison usually only grows in swampy or bog-like areas. Keep an eye out if you live in such an area.

Call your Bourne, MA veterinarian to learn more.


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