Do Dogs and Cats Get a Poison Ivy Rash?

Poison Ivy
Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) is a plant common throughout North America. It contains a toxic clear liquid compound in its sap called urushiol that causes itching and skin rashes. Getty - E+/Oliver Childs

No, dogs and cats do not appear to be sensitive to the effects of urushiol, the allergenic oil found in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac as many humans are. The hair coat provides protection as well.

That's the good news. The bad news is that pets can transmit the urushiol on their hair coats to their human family and other surfaces (furniture, articles of clothing, and so on).

This oil is extremely long-lived in the environment, so caution is advised for pets that roam outside. Wear gloves and bathe your pet well to reduce contamination with this allergenic oil.

But My Pet Is Really Itchy

There are many, many reasons that pets may be itchy, scratching and chewing. Everything from fleas and other parasites, to anal sac problems to hot spots to allergies. Damage from the scratching and chewing may cause secondary infections and problems which often adds to the chewing and licking cycle. Always see your veterinarian at the first signs of itching and scratching.

The Poisonous Part of the Plant

All of these plants contain an oil called urushiol, that for some individuals is highly allergenic. This oil is absorbed rapidly through the skin, producing a contact dermatitis intensely itchy and blistered lesions in susceptible individuals.

Poison Ivy/Sumac/Oak Prevention

Learn how to identify these plants to reduce exposure and how to treat poison ivy in humans to keep your family happy and rash-free when outdoors.

Please note: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.