“Leaves of three, let them be” is a quote that I know personally very well. I have experienced a reaction to poison ivy probably a dozen times over my lifetime. The last time I got it, the predictable rash appeared on the bottom of my foot. I could not figure out how the sole of my foot could have come into contact with poison ivy, especially since the majority of the rash was located on my arch. I put my thinking cap on and attempted to do some detective work to solve the mystery. I had been at my grandparent’s cottage and was aware there were a few patches of poison ivy; however, the patches were nowhere near the paths that we would use.
We had our dog, Chip, with us at the cottage, but he was not roaming the island and used most of the human pathways. There were some distractions in the main area that needed to be checked out, like a chipmunk squeak or a boat coming close by, which encouraged him to veer off and explore other surrounding areas.
I remembered that one evening I had rubbed my feet gently over Chip’s fur as he was zonked out from a day of swimming and other excitement. I realized my mistake. Petting your dog is a big no-no if they have been in an area with Poison Ivy. The oil on the plant is called urushiol, and is all a human needs to develop a rash. It can be rubbed onto your clothing or onto a dog’s legs, underbelly, or face if they are sniffing around.
Dogs can get poison ivy although the occurrence is not common. Their fur protects them from getting the oil on bare skin. Dogs can get the rash if they have short coats, or come into contact with the plant on their under bellies or on their nose. The reaction is the same as humans; they too can develop a rash that blisters and experience intense itching for days.
I found a couple of sites that give superb information. The first gives the low down on poison ivy, and can be found at http://www.aocd.org/skin/dermatologic_diseases/poison_ivy_dermati.html. The second site has great information with what to do if your dog has been in an area of poison ivy, and is found at http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/diseasesandconditions/f/Getting-Rid-Of-Poison-Ivy-Oak-And-Sumac-On-Pets.htm. Time and caution are of the essence.
I have written this post in the hope that, by doing so, it will prevent some dog owners from experiencing this irritating rash. I have learned to spot the plant in all seasons; it changes colour in the fall but can still have the oil on it which causes some to get an allergic reaction. Also, I’ve learned that it’s important to never burn the plant to get rid of it; the smoke is toxic. Prevention is crucial! Learn what the plant looks like, and wash your clothing and pet well if exposed using extreme caution. Take your dog to the vet if you suspect a reaction from poison ivy, and see your doctor if the rash persists on you individually. There are solutions that can clear up the rash faster than waiting it out. Prednisone although a strong medicine brought me great relief one year when I was covered all over both hands! I wonder what dog I was patting then…
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