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Poison Ivy and Pets

May 15, 2020

Have you ever had poison ivy? That tiny plant can make you miserable! For humans,

one of the bad parts about spending time outside in warm weather is the risk of coming

into contact with things like poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Did you know that these plants

can also affect our pets? It’s not extremely common for animals to develop a reaction to

poison ivy, but it’s entirely possible. Read on to learn more.


H  ow to Spot Poison Ivy

When you know how to spot poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you have a better chance of

avoiding it for yourself and your pet. Poison ivy and poison oak both have sets of three

shiny leaflets—remember the simple rhyme “leaves of three, let them be.” Poison

sumac most often grows 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, so the three-

leaf rule doesn’t really apply there.


No matter what kind of plants grow around your local area, you can try to avoid any

trouble by keeping your pet away from shrubbery and thick forested areas when you’re

outdoors.


Symptoms in Pets

It turns out that our 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! That pretty coat

largely blocks the irritating agent—an oil called urushiol—from reaching their skin. It is

possible, though, for your pet to develop a rash on exposed areas of skin that aren’t

completely covered in fur. The main sign is, of course, a red, bumpy rash. You’ll also

probably see your pet scratching or biting intensely at the itchy area. It’s possible for

blisters to appear if the problem persists.


Treating Poison Ivy Rashes

If your furry pal suffers a rash caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac, you’ll want to bathe

them with a pet-safe oatmeal shampoo. (Don’t 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. However, let your vet know if your pet is still itchy. And remember to wear

gloves while bathing your pet so that you don’t get any of the irritating substance 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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