Do Dogs Get Poison Ivy? & Other Outdoor Concerns

With the onset of nice weather, taking your dog into the wilderness can be extremely rewarding. With all the sensory stimulation the outdoors provides, you’ll see a side of your pet that you might not have witnessed before. Watching him fully engaged, tail wagging, nose to the ground and in the air, prancing back and forth with his tongue lolling is an experience we recommend to every dog owner.

However, you definitely need to be prepared. There are obviously more dangers in the woods and fields than there are just walking him around the neighborhood. For example, what about hazardous plants? Can dogs get poison ivy? Well, the basic consensus is that they are pretty much protected by their coat. The toxic substance in poison ivy and poison oak is urushiol, which is an oil resin. Since dogs mostly come in contact with it by rubbing against it while walking, it will adhere to their coat but won’t touch their skin. It can then however be transmitted to humans if they touch or pet the dog. If you’re in an area and you see poison ivy, it’s best to rub the dog thoroughly with a towel and, if possible, shampoo him with an oatmeal based shampoo. If you do see that your dog has a rash in an area with no fur, you should have him examined by a vet.

Don’t Try This at Home: Our brave CEO Smudge Kingsley doing the “Poison Ivy Test”. Or maybe he’s just happy. Or nuts.

Other things to think about when going into the wilderness with your pet:

  • DO NOT take your dog off the leash. Even if she is well-trained and obedient, she might fly off at the sight of another animal and get lost in unfamiliar surroundings.
  • If you’re camping, most campgrounds that accept pets require them to be on a 6-foot leash. Many will not allow them to sleep outside and require them to be in a crate or in the tent.
  • Even when leashed, never leave your dog unattended. There’s always the possibility of an unpleasant encounter with other animals or travelers.
  • As discussed, find out about hazardous plant life in the area–not only poisonous but other plants–like cactus–can physically hurt your pet.
  • Be vigilant in checking your pet for ticks, foot injuries and dehydration. Give her fresh drinking water and don’t let her drink from questionable sources found in the wilderness.

Above all, have fun! Though there are dangers, if you’re properly prepared. the rewards outweigh the hazards.

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4 thoughts on “Do Dogs Get Poison Ivy? & Other Outdoor Concerns

  1. I just wondered if you might know what could have happened with my dog. We were camping at an Ontario Park and all of a sudden he got really wobbly and would go from lethargic to skiddish to lethargic and so on. We fed him some bread and lied him down to sleep and relax (as this was on the weekend and the vet was closed), we left a message to be called back, but in the meantime he fully recovered and has been fine ever since. Any ideas what he could have gotten into? was it a bug or plant? where his leash was there wasn’t much plant life and my other dog was tied up with him and did not get sick at all.

    Thanks very much!

  2. Our indoor dog has short hair every where, but on his belly it is much thinner than on his back. He has a terrrible rash and my main suspect is poison ivy, because there is a deperssion in a growth of poison ivy that is the perfect match to his body. I think he must be taking sun naps in it. He LOVES to lay in the sun.

    I had decided to get a couple of goats who will gladly eat the poison ivy.

    We have given him prednisone, 2x/day benedryl /every 6 hours,and a daily bath in lye soap, and slathered him with calamine lotion.

  3. Teresa, my dogs just had the same experience–they have rashes on their bellies and groins where their hair is thin. My other dog who has longer hair wasn’t affected, but the dogs passed the poison oak oil on to my friend and now she has it on her arms. My dogs don’t seem to be bothered by the rash though, and it doesn’t seem very severe. I’m glad to hear you provided such good treatment for your dog; on my dogs the rash cleared up without any soaps.