My dog, Bubba, likes to lie in the shade in the woods and roll around. I just noticed, now that we finally had a warm day, that he seems to be acting sort of itchy and miserable. Could it be poison ivy? What should I do? Signed, Dan
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, such as yourself, are.
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, bedding and so on).
This oil is extremely long-lived in the environment, so you will need to be careful with pets that roam outside. Wear gloves and bathe Bubba regularly to reduce contamination with this allergenic oil if he is in poison ivy infested areas.
That doesn’t leave you off the hook, though, for dealing with Bubba’s itchiness. There are many reasons that pets may be itchy, scratching and chewing. Everything from fleas and other parasites, to anal sac problems, to hot spots, and to other allergies. The scratching and chewing may cause secondary infections and problems, which then perpetuates the chewing and licking cycle, and soon you have a mess on your hands.
So, talk to your veterinarian about Bubba’s inching right away. You don’t want him to be miserable all summer!
### About Oswego County Humane Society
We provide services to promote and strengthen the human-animal bond through fostering-to-adoption programs, spay/neuter clinics, and humane education. The Oswego County Humane Society is designated under IRS code 501(c)3 as a charitable organization: 161586001 and registered with the New York State Charities Bureau: 06-70-81. Our registration number with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets is RR239.