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Poison Ivy and Pets

May 1, 2020

Have you ever had poison ivy? If so, you know it isn’t much fun. One of the big downsides of warm weather is the risk of contracting with poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Did you know that these plants can also affect our furry pal? It’s not super common for pets to develop a reaction to poison ivy, but it is entirely possible. Read on to find out more.


H  ow to Spot Poison Ivy

When you know how to spot poison ivy, oak, or sumac in the wild, you can do your best to avoid it for yourself and your pet. Poison ivy and poison oak each have sets of three shiny leaflets. Remember that simple rhyme “leaves of three, let them be.” Poison sumac usually can be found in swampy or bog-like areas, so you’re more likely to encounter it near a body of water. Sumac plants have clusters of leaflets; the three-leaf rule doesn’t really apply to them.


No matter what kind of plants you can find in your local area, try to avoid any trouble. Keep your pet away from shrubbery and thick forested areas when you’re outdoors.


Symptoms in Pets

Pets are far less likely to experience a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac than we are, and for one simple reason. They are covered in fur, which largely blocks the irritating agent—an oil that is called urushiol—from reaching their skin. It is possible, though, for your pet to develop a rash on exposed areas of skin. The main sign to look for is, of course, a red, bumpy rash, and you’ll probably see your pet scratching or biting intensely at the itchy area. Blisters may appear if the problem persists.


Treating Poison Ivy Rashes

If your animal companion suffers a rash caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you’ll want to bathe them with a pet-safe oatmeal shampoo. (Take care not to get any in your pet’s mouth or eyes.) That’s usually enough to get rid of the urushiol substance and help your pet feel more comfortable, but you definitely should let your vet know if your furry buddy is still itchy. And remember to wear gloves while bathing your pet so that you don’t get any urushiol on your own skin.


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

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