Can My Dog Pass Poison Ivy On To me?

Just the other night, Maggie, a writer here at Happy Puppy Tips, was sitting on her couch (next to her pup, Max, of course) and noticed an itchy spot on her arm. Thinking nothing of it, she headed to bed, but woke up the next morning to a giant, red, blistering rash. 

Living in the Eastern part of the US, she instantly knew it was poison ivy. But, she hadn’t been deep in the woods, so was confused as to how she contracted it…until she looked at Max and remembered their trail walk from the day before. 

While she hadn’t gone off-trail, Max sure did (and who can blame him; what pup doesn’t love exploring on walks?). Could he have really passed poison ivy on to Maggie? 

The short answer: absolutely, and in this post, we’ll tell you just how – keep reading. 

How to Identify Poison Ivy

Before we dive into how your dog can become a carrier of this notoriously-itchy plant, it helps to know how to identify it so you can avoid it when possible.

The poison ivy vine – known for growing in small leaflets of three – is green with a reddish hue and can cause extreme allergic reactions, including red, swollen skin, blisters and severe itching within hours of exposure.

Poison ivy thrives in warm and shady climates, it’s most common in the Eastern and Midwestern parts of the United States, particularly in forests and areas with a lot of shrubbery.  So, like the old adage goes, if you’re in these types of areas and see leaves of three, just leave it be. 

Can Pups Contract Poison Ivy?

While rare, dogs can experience the same allergic reaction to poison ivy that humans do, especially shorter dogs with less fur (like french bulldogs) since their skin is more exposed than furrier breeds, making them easier targets to pick up the oils from the plant and develop a rash.

Symptoms of poison ivy in dogs ranges from red, swollen skin and blisters, to itching and vomiting. If you’ve been in the woods lately and your dog is experiencing these symptoms, it’s best to bring them to the vet to help treat their skin and ensure they stay as comfortable as possible. 

But here’s the real kicker – just because your dog doesn’t show signs of a poison ivy allergy doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. The oils from the plant are invisible, but can remain on your dog’s fur for days after exposure, which means they can transfer to any other area they come in contact with, like your furniture, clothing, and skin. 

What to Do if Your Pup Comes in Contact with Poison Ivy

More often than not, many parents (including our own staff!) don’t know their pup has come in contact with poison ivy until it’s too late. However, there are ways to minimize the risk of your pup carrying the poison ivy oils back to you and your home. 

Not to overstate the obvious, but try and keep your dog from running off-trail, and if poison ivy is rampant in your area, opt for city walks or residential areas where the vine is less likely to grow.

If you choose to go off in the woods and explore, keep a few wet wipes on hand to give your pup a thorough rub-down before getting back into your car, and always head right for the bath when returning home to be sure you rid their fur of any lingering oils. 

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