I love waking in the woods with Janice and Leroy. That said, though, I do sometimes worry about what they might get into. Poison ivy has always been a big thing for me. I’ve never been all that sure that it’s a big thing for dogs, but just the same, I’ve wondered if I should worry about it.
So, should you keep your dog away from poison ivy?
The conventional wisdom is pretty much split. Some people will tell you that dogs aren’t troubled in the least by poison ivy. Others will jump in on the “Omigod,your dog’s gonna die” bandwagon.
What Exactly Is Poison Ivy?
Poison ivy is a toxic plant that lives in most of North America, but not in Alaska or Hawaii. You can find this plant in fields, forests, streams, wetlands and even along roadsides and in back yards. The leaves can be harmful if you come into contact with them, and so can the sap. The stems and roots can also cause irritation.
When Is It Problematic?
Poison ivy becomes a problem when it’s touched. Then, the oils in the plant are transferred to the skin, and a reaction that’s known as contact dermatitis occurs. That’s what causes the itching.
Are Some Breeds More Prone Than Others?
Oh, you bet! Some dogs are at low risk. They include the Bearded Collie, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard, Alaskan Komodor, Shih Tzu and Afghan Hound. This is because these breeds have long coats. The dogs at highest risk are the American Hairless, Chinese Crested, Hairless Khala and Smooth Chihuahua, because they have very little hair. Dogs like my Janice and Leroy are only at medium risk, because they are short-haired.
Keep in mind, though, that dogs that have long hair on their inner legs will also be at risk.
Not every dog will react to coming into contact with poison ivy. If your dog does encounter the plant, though, you can expect that he will scratch, might start to lick a lot or bite at himself. He might also, in severe cases, develop anaphylactic shock, which will be manifested as vomiting, diarrhea and even seizures. Sometimes, too, he might have pale gums and a fast heart rate.
If you think that your dog has ingested poison ivy, you should contact your vet right away. If he’s been vomiting, that’s actually good – it means that he’s been trying to expel the toxins from the poison ivy.
What you need to do in these instances is put on protective gloves, and give your dog a bath using a mild shampoo. Rinse, and wash. Then take your dog to the vet. You could also give him an antihistamine, like Benadryl, but I’d suggest that you should contact your vet before doing so.
The Best Cure
Prevention is always better than a cure. So, if you think you’re in an area where there might be poison ivy, the best thing that you can do is keep your dog away from it. And if your dog does end up in poison ivy, contact your vet. Your vet is always the best source of information when it comes to anything that might harm your dog.
The Final Word
Dogs can be very sensitive to poison ivy, and often, they can be affected very badly. Long-coated dogs are less prone to poison ivy infection, but still very vulnerable. So your best course of action is to keep your dog (and yourself) away from poison ivy. Learn how to identify the plant and stay away from it.