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Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy? Symptoms, Treatment & More


Last Updated: February 16, 2023 | 5 min read | Leave a Comment

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Keeping your dog safe and happy is every pet parent’s top priority. Poison ivy may concern dog parents when walking in areas with lots of plants. For those of us that have had the unlucky experience of touching the plant ourselves, we know just how irritating and uncomfortable it can be to our skin. So, does poison ivy affect dogs in the same way? The good news is that poison ivy doesn’t affect dogs as often as humans. Their fur coats reduce the chance that their skin will be exposed. Let’s learn more about how poison ivy affects dogs – what symptoms should you look out for? What happens if a dog eats poison ivy? And how to treat poison ivy in dogs.

What Does Poison Ivy Look Like?

Poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a type of allergenic plant native to North America and Asia. Despite its name, it is not a true ‘ivy’ (Hedera) but is a member of the pistachio and cashew family. Poison ivies can grow as small plants, shrubs, or climbing vines. They are characterized by clusters of three jagged green leaves. Small green flowers bloom from May to July, producing small white berries in the fall. Poison ivy can be found in forests, fields, wetlands, and backyards – basically pretty much anywhere a dog might go!

What Are The Symptoms Of Poison Ivy In Dogs?

Despite its name, poison ivy is only considered mildly toxic to dogs. When pets are exposed to poison ivy, it can result in contact dermatitis (on the mouth or skin) or irritation to the gastrointestinal tract if ingested. The clear liquid found in the sap of poison ivy (urushiol) causes an intense, itchy rash.

What does poison ivy look like on a dog?

  • Red skin
  • Itching and inflammation
  • Blisters or scabs that ooze fluid
  • Scratching, licking, or chewing the skin
  • Sore mouth with ulcers on the tongue or mucous membranes of the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

Poison ivy reactions occur rarely in dogs. Areas of your dog’s body, such as their belly and paws with thinner fur, are more likely to be affected. Breeds such as the American hairless and Chinese Crested are at an increased risk as they don’t have fur to protect their skin from the plant oil.

There are lots of more common causes for skin rashes or soreness in dogs. If you are concerned about your dog’s skin and are unsure of the cause, then it is advisable to seek veterinary attention. Read more about the most common types of skin issues in dogs.

Dog Poison Ivy Treatment

If your dog has been exposed to poison ivy, it is important to remove the plant oil from their coat to avoid irritation to their skin and reduce the chance of it transferring to your skin. It is a good idea to wear gloves when handling your dog until you know the oil has been removed from their coat.

Treatment starts with decontamination of their coat. A warm bath with a mild shampoo is advised to remove the oil. Applying cool water to your dog’s skin may relieve itch and redness.

Most poison ivy rashes are mild in dogs and will disappear on their own. If your dog is itchy or irritated by the rash, seek veterinary advice. Your vet may prescribe a topical, oral, or injected steroid medication and antibiotics if the rash is severe or at risk of becoming infected. Dogs should avoid licking poison ivy rash as they will make the area more inflamed and increase the risk of infection. A buster collar or lose T-shirt to cover the area may be needed to stop your dog from licking the area.

Dogs suffering from vomiting and diarrhea after ingestion of poison ivy plants may need anti-sickness medication and antacids to protect the lining of the stomach. In severe cases, intravenous fluids may be needed to prevent dehydration if oral inflammation prevents your dogs from eating and drinking.

How To Get Poison Ivy Off Dogs

It is important to bathe your dog as soon as possible if they have been exposed to poison ivy. This will help minimize exposure to yourself and other people. Ensure that you wear gloves and a protective, long-sleeved shirt to protect your skin when handling your dog.

Rinse your pet thoroughly with lukewarm or cool water and use a shampoo to remove the oil from their coat. A degreasing pet shampoo works well. Massage the shampoo into your pet’s coat well, creating a lather. Ensure all parts of the coat are cleaned but avoided the eyes, ears, and genital area.

Wipes exist for people to remove the oil of the poison ivy plant from their skin, but these are best avoided on dogs as they may irritate their skin more.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Treat My Dogs Poison Ivy At Home?

Bathe your dog to remove the plant oil from its coat. Using cool water can help reduce itch and relieve inflammation. A cold compress will cool the area and soothe the itch and pain. Home remedies to reduce inflammation and itch on the skin include aloe vera, cucumber slices, calamine lotion, and plantain leaf.  

Can You Get Poison Ivy From A Dog?

People commonly suffer a contact dermatitis resulting in an itchy, irritating rash when the plant is touched. This is caused by urushiol, a clear liquid compound in the plant’s sap. The fur of dogs generally protects their skin from the toxin. However, the oil can stick to their fur, exposing you when stroking or petting them.

Can Dogs Spread Poison Ivy?

The urushiol liquid in the poison ivy sap could be spread to objects in their environment if dogs have a large volume of sap on their fur. Dogs may leave traces of the liquid on bedding, sofas, doors, etc., so others (dogs or humans) would repeatedly come into contact with poison ivy. The poison ivy rash is not contagious.  

Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy From Humans?

If you were exposed to the sap of poison ivy and transferred this to your dog, then they could develop symptoms. However, the fur of dogs generally protects their skin from the toxin. The liquid produced by skin blisters is made by the body and is not the same as urushiol oil.

Are Dogs Allergic To Poison Ivy?

An allergy to poison ivy is rare but possible. Severe allergies, or anaphylaxis, can cause difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and limbs, and an elevated heart rate. Anaphylaxis requires urgent veterinary care.

How Long Does Poison Ivy Oil Last On Dog Fur?

Urushiol oil stays active on any surface for a long time (years in some cases). If your dog has been exposed to poison ivy, then bathing them to remove the oil is important to reduce the risk of you being exposed to the oil.

Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy In Their Mouth Or On Their Tongue?

If poison ivy is eaten, the mucosal lining of the mouth and digestive tracts can be damaged, resulting in inflammation and ulcers. This can be sore, preventing your dog from eating and drinking. If the inflammation extends into their digestive tract then it may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy On Their Feet?

The fur and foot pads generally protect the dog’s feet from poison ivy. If the oil comes into contact with the delicate skin on their feet, it can result in dermatitis. Dogs may experience red, itchy feet with a small, raised rash on the skin.

Poison Ivy Rash On Dogs: What Does It Look Like?

Poison ivy rash appears like small, raised, red bumps on dogs’ skin. It can be difficult to see due to their fur and is more likely to appear on areas of the body with thin hair, such as the belly. In people, blisters are common with this rash, but they are less common in dogs exposed to the toxin.

Keeping Pets Safe Outdoors

In general, poison ivy shouldn’t be too much of a concern for most pet parents. However, be cautious, avoid the plant whenever you see it and check for symptoms. There are lots of more common causes for sore, itchy skin in dogs, so if it persists, then seek veterinary advice. Learn about other toxic plants to avoid and how to keep your yard a wildlife habitat for your dog. And if you plan on using weed killer, read this article about is Roundup safe for dogs.

The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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