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Most anyone who’s ever come into contact with poison ivy knows the aftermath (i.e. an itchy rash) is not fun. But, can dogs get poison ivy? Yes, dogs can be affected by poison ivy, but it’s rare.

Dr. Hayley Adams, a veterinarian and board-certified diplomate in the American College of Veterinary Microbiology and the American College of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, agrees that while it’s not common, dogs can react to poison ivy. Your vet may prescribe topical, oral, or injected steroid medications and antibiotics to treat poison ivy if she is concerned that your pet will develop a secondary bacterial skin infection.

How to Protect Your Dog Against Poison Ivy or Oak

Though cases of a dog being affected by poison ivy are rare, if you have a canine companion with sensitive skin, you should keep him away from the plant, just in case. “After being in an area with poison ivy or oak, you should wash your dog,” says Dr. Sarah Nold, DVM, suggests.

She cautions that if you suspect your dog is having a reaction to poison ivy or oak, take him to the vet for an exam. “It is more likely that he is suffering from another condition (such as a contact allergy to another plant, skin mites, or allergies) and will benefit from medication not available over the counter,” Dr. Nold explains.

Even if your dog doesn’t develop a rash, it could still be harmful to you if he brushed up against the plant. “Dogs (and cats) can be carriers of the oils, which can then be transmitted to a human who comes in contact with them,” Dr. Nold says.

Giant Schnauzer sniffing a trail oudoors.
Susan H. Smith via Getty Images

Are Some Breeds More Prone to Having These Allergic Reactions Than Others?

“Although there may be breed-specific predilections for an allergic response to poison ivy, it is more likely related to the dog’s fur coverage (more exposed skin is more likely to come in contact with the plant and react), height (shorter stature dogs may brush up against the plants, especially on their bellies, which have little to no fur) and activities (spending time hiking or in heavily wooded areas),” says Dr. Adams.

So shorter dogs with bare bellies, such as the French Bulldog or Chinese Crested, may be more prone to coming into contact with poison ivy.

Poison Ivy Symptoms in Dogs

  • Red, swollen skin
  • Itching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blisters

If your dog has a change in behavior or a worsening skin condition, contact your veterinarian.