Getting Rid Of Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac on Pets

poison ivy plant
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Poisonous plants like poison ivy, oak and sumac can be a nightmare for anyone exposed to them which is why most humans know to keep away from these shiny leaves. The oil of these plants spreads an itchy rash across any skin it comes in contact with it. But while you know to avoid leaves of three your family dog might not have heard that rule. What happens if your pet runs through a patch of poison ivy? Pets may not "get" poison ivy, but they can spread it. The next question people have is how do you bathe a dog after it's being exposed to poison ivy without being exposed yourself?

The Spread of Poison

Dogs and cats do not suffer the allergenic effects of poison ivy, sumac or oak like humans do, but they can transmit the oil of these plants to humans on their hair. This means that your pet can bring you poison ivy oil (and related) even though you haven't been in the woods.

The Plant Oil

The oil responsible for the rashes and blisters that sensitive humans suffer from is called urushiol. This oil is very hardy and long-lived and may persist in the environment (and on clothing, sleeping bags, etc.) for years. This means the oil will likely remain on your pet's fur until you wash them.

Getting Rid of Urushiol Oils on Your Pets

If you suspect your dog has gotten into some poisonous plants a bath is in order. Here are some tips to make the pet bathing as effective as possible for removing this stubborn plant oil without exposing yourself to it.

  • Wear rubber gloves.
  • Use a barrier cream, such as a lotion containing bent quantum, on your arms and skin not protected by gloves.
  • Use copious amounts of cool water, for a long period of time.
  • Use a "degreasing" soap, such as Dawn dishwashing detergent, to remove the oils from your pet's coat.

Getting Rid of Urushiol Oils on Tools and Surfaces

After you bathe your pet it's important to remember that the plant oil can remain on any grooming tools you used. Once you're done giving Fido his bath you'll want to give anything that may have come in contact with the oil a good washing as well. This also goes for any clothes you might be wearing at the time.

  • Wear rubber gloves.
  • Use copious amounts of water
  • Use rubbing alcohol (isopropanol or isopropyl alcohol) and lots of soap.
  • Discard cloth and clothing items if possible, otherwise, wash in hot water with lots of detergents.

Getting Rid of Urushiol Oils in the Environment

It is very important to not burn these plants. Burning releases the oils in the air, potentially causing very serious allergic reactions. Reactions to this allergen are common and may occur at any time in a person's life. Here are some safety tips for removing these plants.