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Poison Ivy and Pets

June 1, 2020

For humans, one of the downsides of spending time outside during warm weather is the risk of coming into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Did you know that these plants can also affect our four-legged companions? While not extremely common for pets to develop a reaction to poison ivy, it is possible. Read on to find out more.


Spotting Poison Ivy

By knowing how to spot poison ivy, oak, or sumac, 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 the simple rhyme “leaves of three, let them be.” Poison sumac usually grows in bog-like or swampy areas, so you’ll be more likely to encounter it near a body of water. Sumac plants have clusters of leaflets, so the three-leaf rule doesn’t really apply.


Regardless of what kind of plants grow in your local area, you can try to prevent trouble by keeping your pet away from shrubbery and densely forested areas while outdoors.


Symptoms to Watch For

Pets are far less likely to experience a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac than we are, and for one simple reason. Their fur largely prevents the irritating agent—an oil called urushiol—from reaching their skin. It is possible, however, for your pet to develop a rash on exposed areas of skin that aren’t completely covered in fur. The main sign is a red, bumpy rash and you may notice your pet scratching or biting intensely at the itchy area. It’s also possible for blisters to appear if the problem persists.


Treating Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac in Pets

If your pet suffers a rash caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac, bathe them with a pet-safe oatmeal shampoo. (Be careful not to get any in your pet’s mouth or eyes.) That is usually enough to get rid of the urushiol substance and help your pet feel more comfortable. If your pet is still itchy, contact your Rockwall or Heath area vet. And remember to wear gloves while bathing your pet to prevent contact with the irritating substance on your own skin.


If you suspect your pet is suffering due to contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, let your Heath or Rockwall area veterinarian know right away. We’re always here to help!

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