Do you love summer? One of the downsides of that warm weather is the increased risk of coming into contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac. Did you know that these plants can also affect our animal companions? It’s uncommon for pets to develop a reaction to poison ivy, but it’s not impossible. Read on to find out more.
Being able to identify poison ivy, oak, or sumac will help you avoid it for yourself and your pet. Poison ivy and poison oak both have sets of three shiny leaflets. You may remember the simple rhyme “leaves of three, let it be.” Poison sumac usually grows in moist ground areas. You’re more likely to encounter it near a body of water. Also worth noting: sumac plants have clusters of leaflets, so the three-leaf rule doesn’t apply here.
N o matter what kind of plants are in your local area, you can try to avoid trouble by keeping your pet away from shrubbery and thick forested areas. This is also a good way to avoid snakes!
Pets are less likely to experience a reaction to poison ivy, oak, or sumac than we are, and for one simple reason. Their fur largely blocks the irritating agent—an oil called urushiol—from reaching their skin. However, your pet can develop a rash on exposed areas of skin that aren’t completely covered in fur. The main thing to look for is, of course, a red, bumpy rash. You’ll likely see your pet scratching or biting intensely at the itchy area. It’s also possible for blisters to appear if the problem persists.
If your pet suffers a rash caused by poison ivy, oak, or sumac, contact your vet right away. The general treatment is to bathe them with a pet-safe oatmeal shampoo. (Don’t get any in your pet’s mouth or eyes!) That will probably get rid of the urushiol substance and help your pet feel more comfortable. However, let your vet know if your pet is still itchy. You’ll also want 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 your pet has been in contact with poison ivy, oak, or sumac, let your veterinarian know. We’re here for you!