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poison ivy

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? “Most veterinary dermatologists say no,” says Dr. Sarah Nold, DVM, a Trupanion staff veterinarian. “If it does occur, it is uncommon.”

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.

Taking Precautions 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,” Nold 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,” 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,” Nold says.

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 Adams.