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Can Dogs Get Poison Ivy?

Ever wonder if your dog is susceptible to this trailside plant?


A woman sitting with her dog on a hike in the woods

Dogs can be excellent hiking companions, and as the weather gets better, it’s a fun idea to take your pup to the great outdoors. Human hikers know the scourge of the “leaves of three” that is poison ivy, but can this plant be hazardous to your furry friend? We have the answers to make your trails a lot happier.

NOTE: The first thing to understand is that when we talk about “poison ivy,” we’re also talking about the plant’s cousins: poison oak and poison sumac. This article will use “poison ivy” as a blanket term from here on out.

Yes, dogs can get poison ivy. However, the good news is that dogs are, for the most part, not bothered by poison ivy. The plant usually irritates its victims by secreting oil from its leaves onto bare skin. Dogs aren’t immune to this irritant but, in general, their furry coats mean that the oil from the ivy never makes contact with their skin. So if your pup brushes past a poison ivy bush, she’ll probably be fine as long as the plant never makes contact with her mouth or eyes. If she does happen to get some on her bare skin contact your vet immediately.

Poison is passable

While the fur on dogs keeps the noxious oil from hurting them, humans are not so lucky. Petting your dog after a foliage-filled hike could transfer the oil from her fur to your bare skin.

Poison prevention

There are lots of ways to help prevent the spread of poison ivy from dog to human. When Fido’s done hiking, make sure to wipe him down with a towel while wearing gloves to try and get rid of any caustic oil lingering on his fur. It’s also helpful to closely monitor your dog when having fun in wild places so he doesn’t inadvertently roll around in something harmful.