Dog in the woods

POISON IVY & YOUR PET

08/15/16

Going for a hike is one of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors with your dog. The variety of terrains and smells that trails offer will keep both of you on your toes, while getting in some challenging exercise with your pet.

When you're getting ready for your journey, you probably know to pack plenty of water (for the both of you), watch for signs of heat stroke and take plenty of breaks, but you may not be on the lookout for Poison Ivy.  

This woody vine is a nuisance all across North America. Poison Ivy tends to grow in “disturbed ground” such as edges of yards and mixed in with landscaping, along paths, climbing trees and fences. It can appear in many forms such as climbing vines, groundcover or as a shrub.  Interestingly, all parts of the plant, including the roots, contain the poisonous resin urushiol; but it is the contact with its sap found on any surface of the plant, that can cause an itchy, unsightly rash.  

Before you head out, take the time to check if Poison Ivy is prevalent in your area, and become familiar with its bright green colour and unique three-leaf structure. Skin reactions to Poison Ivy can include itchiness, skin inflammation and raised bumps that blister.

While it is uncommon for dogs or cats themselves to get reactions from the plant, due to the protection provided by their coats, they can still pass the annoying condition on to you or a loved one if you come in contact with the plant's oils hiding on their fur. If you knowingly do touch the sap, immediately wash the area with cold water and soap. If a reaction develops, don’t hesitate in seeing your doctor for treatment.  

While Poison Ivy is unlikely to affect your pet’s skin, if your dog eats the plant, they will likely vomit or have diarrhea. If any of these symptoms occur, get to a veterinarian as soon as possible. It's impossible to predict how your dog's body will react, and what starts out as an itch or upset tummy can progress to something more serious in short order.

If you are concerned that either of you have come in contact with Poison Ivy on your outdoor adventure, give your four footed friend a shampoo with a good quality pet shampoo and then take a well-deserved shower yourself.