What is Poison Ivy?
Poison oak and poison ivy are plants that contain a toxic principle – urushiol. This toxin resides in the plant sap – often coming into contact with animals and pets. While animals are fairly resilient to the toxin, they can transmit the toxin to their owner.
Pets will most likely encounter the plant in wooded areas, and rub against it (seldom ingesting it). The sap tends to stick to the coat of the animal and in this way is transferred to human skin when the pet is petted.
Diagnosing Allergic Reactions to Poison Ivy
While extreme allergic reactions to poison ivy are unlikely, watch for the following in your pets:
- Red inflamed skin
- Raised bumps or swellings on the skin
- Vomiting or diarrhea if plant is ingested
If your animal develops a severe reaction to the plant, or if it has been ingested, seek veterinary care. This should also be done if you pet is vomiting, has diarrhea or weakness. The diagnosis is based on known exposure or ingestion of the plant.
Help for Poison Ivy
Treatment depends on how bad the reaction is – for animals with skin irritation, prolonged bathing and rinsing, lasting at least 10 minutes, is recommended. For those animals that have eaten the plant, hospitalization may be necessary with activated charcoal administered if plant material is present in the stomach.
There are many natural ingredients that have been used to soothe swelling and inflammation. Herbal and homeopathic remedies from a reputable source, can offer soothing relief without side effects.
Hamamelis virginianum (Witch hazel) and Calendula officinalis (Marigold) are herbal ingredients used to support skin health and soothe agitated skin. Lemon balm and Urtica urens have cleansing properties, helping to address superficial wounds and conditions of the skin.