Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy?

Have you ever wondered whether your dog is at risk of poison ivy rashes? Do you spend a lot of time outdoors in the woods, hiking or camping with your canine companion? How common is it really for dogs to deal with poison ivy?

Although most dogs will go their whole lives without developing a poison ivy rash, it’s important to note that they can still potentially experience this type of reaction. Some dogs are more sensitive to poison ivy than others, so it pays to be cautious when exploring the wilderness with your pet.

can dogs get poison ivy

Risk Factors

If your dog fits any of these items, they could be at a higher risk of getting poison ivy.

Dogs Who Spend Time in the Woods

Dogs who never go into the woods are not very likely to come into contact with poison ivy. However, if you frequently take your dog on hikes or camping trips with you, then they have more chances to interact with this plant. Activity has a lot to do with poison ivy in dogs.

Shorter Dogs

Dogs who are shorter are naturally going to be closer to the ground than taller dogs. This means that more of their bodies are at risk of exposure to poison ivy plants. If your short dog walks through a patch of poison ivy, it may brush up against more of their skin than it might on a taller dog.

Hairless Dogs or Dogs with Thin Coats

Dogs who are hairless or who have very thin coats of hair are more likely to experience a reaction to poison ivy. Dogs with longer or thicker hair will not have as much of the plant’s toxins reach their skin.

Dogs Who are Immunocompromised

Finally, if your dog is already immunocompromised in some way—from a chronic illness or from a medication, for example—then they are at a greater risk of developing a reaction to poison ivy. Consider keeping any immunocompromised dog at home instead of taking them into the woods.

Signs and Symptoms

If your dog has been showing any of these signs or symptoms it would be best to take them to the veterinarian.

Redness and Swelling

The most common sign of early poison ivy reaction in dogs is redness and swelling of the skin. Any part of the skin that has come into contact with the plant may be at risk of experiencing this type of reaction. In some mild cases, this is the only symptom a dog may experience.

Hives and Blisters

Just like humans, dogs can experience hives and blisters from poison ivy reactions as well. Blisters may swell and fill with fluid, then pop and leak onto the skin. When this happens, the reaction may spread further, so it is important to work with your vet to clear up this problem as quickly as possible.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

Although less common that skin reactions, vomiting and diarrhea are sometimes related to poison ivy exposure in dogs as well. If your dog has other symptoms on this list and is also vomiting or having diarrhea, a reaction is the likely reason.

Excessive Scratching and Licking

Dogs who experience hives or blisters from poison ivy will be much more likely to develop excessive scratching or licking behaviors to try to remedy the problem. Unfortunately, these behaviors only put the dog at a greater risk of skin infections and worsening of the reaction over time.

Protection and Treatment for Poison Ivy in Dogs

Here are some recommendations for protecting your dog from poison ivy:

Give Your Dog a Bath

If you yourself are allergic to poison ivy, you may want to put on some long dishwashing gloves before you do this. Bathe your dog thoroughly using a dog-safe shampoo, then take a shower yourself as well. This way, you’ll both be less likely to experience a harmful reaction.

Avoid the Woods

If you already know your dog has an allergy to poison ivy, it may be best to avoid taking them in the woods altogether. Although this can be disappointing, especially if you were hoping to have a canine companion for hikes and camping trips, it is safer for your dog in this situation.

Talk to Your Veterinarian

If your dog is having a moderate to severe reaction to poison ivy (or poison oak), your vet will likely prescribe either a steroid injection or a round of steroid oral medication instead.

Yes, Dogs Can Get Poison Ivy but You Can Help Protect Them

By taking the time to protect your dog against poison ivy, you can significantly reduce their risk of developing a reaction to this harmful plant. If your dog does come into contact with poison ivy and develops a rash, head to the vet as soon as possible for the proper treatment.

In most cases, canine poison ivy will clear up with a little medical assistance in a short time, just like human reactions. However, your vet may also prescribe antibiotics if your dog is at risk of other infections. Heart + Paw has many different locations to help care for your pet. To talk with a veterinarian about your dog and poison ivy, book an appointment online today!


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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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