American Eskimo Dog Rescue and Sanctuary of Iowa presents:

Poison  Ivy, Oak and Sumac 
Information Center


How would I get Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac from my pet? Can my dogs get Poison Ivy?

 Pictures of how Poison Ivy looks in the early spring.

How does Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac work?

How do I remove Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac from my pet?

How do I treat myself for Poison Ivy exposure?

How do I remove the plants and keep them from growing?

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We have had many questions arise concerning dogs and the three poison plants. We will try to answer as many of your concerns on this page. And give some advice for any current problems you might be experiencing with these nasty plants.

        Tinker the Eskie rolling in new-growth Poison Ivy.


Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, and Poison Sumac, common names applied to three plants of a genus in the cashew family, capable of producing an allergic reaction in people. Both poison ivy and poison oak grow on roadsides and in thickets, hedgerows, and open woods, and one or the other is found throughout the United States and southern Canada. They may take the form of vines climbing up tree trunks, shrubs or sub-shrubs, or vines trailing on the forest floor. Distinguishing characteristics include the regular grouping of three leaflets in each leaf. Poison sumac is a tall, smooth-stemmed shrub that grows in swamps throughout the eastern United States and Canada. It bears pinnately compound leaves with 7 to 13 leaflets.

Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac contain a lacquer-like resin in their sap. The resin contains active substances that provoke a reaction in many people when contact occurs. Contact with exposed pets, clothing, or garden tools may also induce a reaction. Smoke from burning ivy plants may carry the resin and affect all uncovered parts of the body if the smoke from the plant is inhaled, it can also cause death in some instances. After contact, the effects do not become apparent for some hours. The skin then reddens and begins to itch. Small watery blisters appear, and the itching becomes intense. In severe cases, large watery swellings appear. Recovery takes place in one to four weeks, even without treatment. Scratching slows healing, invites infection, and may spread the resin from one location to another. 

"Leaves of Three Let it Be"

How would I get Poison Ivy, Oak or Sumac From my dog? Can My Dogs get Poison Ivy?

 This is Sangha a standard size Eskie, he is sitting under a Poison Ivy branch in the late summer. (about 10 feet away) As you can see it is not as small as some would believe Poison Ivy to be, because most depictions like the drawings at the top of the page are of young plants or the type that grow along the ground. If Sangha was to come in contact with the plant it most likely would not effect him because of his fur would work as a blocker of sorts. There might be a problem though, if I were to walk over to him and pet him on his head or his back for being such a good boy and sitting so nicely for this picture. Because it would have been exactly were the Poison Ivy contacted him and it would ultimately transfer to my hand and were ever I may put my hand afterwards.





These are pictures (below) of how Poison Ivy looks in the early spring.

This picture was taken of new Poison Ivy growth is the early spring along the the bottom of an Oak tree where it will continue to climb during the summer.


This picture was taken of new Poison Ivy shoots coming out of the ground though 12" tall grass.


This picture is a good example of how the new Poison Ivy growth looks almost like it was waxed or polished.


This is a picture of Poison Ivy growth on an existing vine in the spring about 6' up on an Oak tree.

How does Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac work?
Poison ivy, oak and sumac contains a toxic substance called Urushiol (-rʹshē-ôl) in the resin or on the surface of plants of the genus Rhus, including poison ivy, oak, sumac, the Ginkgo tree the shells of cashews, the shells of brazil nuts, and the rinds of mangoes, (sensitive individuals would do well to avoid all of these). It is also the substance found in the lacquer tree that Japanese black lacquer is made.
 The oleoresin urushiol, which flows through the poison ivy plant and its relatives, causes the allergic reaction (a red, itchy rash). Urushiol is a sticky, clear oil that penetrates the outer layer of skin until it hits the dermis, and in the dermis an allergic reaction to the urushiol occurs.
 The sores and rash are not contagious, but the oil itself can by transferred from one persons skin to another or from a pets fur to a human and so on. 
Just ¼ oz. of Urushiol is enough to give everyone on the planet a rash.
  Most children under 7 years of age are rarely susceptible to the allergic reaction.
 The urushiol resin remains stable, even in dead or dried plants, and therefore is equally hazardous in the winter as in the summer. Once again-Never Burn it!

This is what Poison Ivy looks like in the fall color season



How do I Remove Poison Ivy, Oak and Sumac from my dog or other pet?

Assuming that you are not feeling the effects of urushiol exposure (which if that is the case, you should confine your dog or other pet in a separate area from yourself and treat yourself first).
 The best way to clean Poison Ivy off of your dog  is with a good strong pet shampoo.
 You must cover any skin you have exposed and wear rubber gloves and safety glasses, try to keep your dog from "shaking off" in the first washing.  Repeat normal washing procedures 3 times, towel dry your pet with a clean towel and place the used towel in the washing machine immediately.
 Let your pet dry thoroughly before resuming contact without gloves and protective wear








These are the wax-like berries found on Poison Ivy and Poison Oak in the late summer.



How do I Treat myself for Poison Ivy exposure?

There are several options for treating urushiol exposure. The first and most important thing you want to do is to take a strong soap and scrub the affected area a best you can. This is only a start and you are in no way out of the woods yet (yuk yuk). If you are having a reaction to the urushiol exposure it will still happen, but it wont spread as bad because you washed the area so well.
 There are some folks that choose to treat the affected areas themselves using over the counter Poison Ivy salves or what I use is an acne cream that contains 2% salicylic acid. If you are not sure what to do or are terribly worried you should see a doctor. Maybe just to let you know you will be all right if nothing else. What a doctor will usually prescribe is a topical Triamcinolon ointment and a Prednisone regimen. No matter which direction you choose be prepared for 1-4 weeks of irritations.




How do I remove the plants and keep them from growing?

If you are unsure on how to use the products mentioned in this section or you have a high sensitivity to the Poison Ivy plants, the best route would be to call a professional licensed and insured landscaper.

The best way to get rid of the Poison Ivy plants is to eradicate them. You can also use a herbicide product called “Brush Killer” available from Roundup, Kleeraway and other agricultural chemical companies. Theses products will kill all brush and vegetation were it is sprayed or painted. You will need to use protective gear to cover any exposed skin and your eyes. whenever working with these plants.
Keep your pet away from the treated areas for at least 24 hours.
 Spray both the leaves and the stalk and also thoroughly soak the base of the vine (were it comes up from the ground) this area should also be treated in the early spring and fall for a few years to come, the roots are very hardy and stubborn. Wearing your protective gear, the dead vines can be cut off and placed in a strong trash bag or buried once they are completely dead. The three poison plants can keep their potency for 5 years or more. Do not use a chipper shredder type machine to grind up the dead plants and again, Do Not Burn It!














It is sooo good for you and for me when you turn off the TV and go outside to enjoy the natural wonders all around us as often as possible.
 Even though things like Poison Ivy can be annoying, there are some hopeful aspects to these plants because scientist are using them. They may soon find important clues to how our immune system works and it might help them cure some of the most deadly viruses and diseases in the world. 
Please take us out often for both of our benefits and now that you know what to look for when helping us blaze through the trails, we can travel smart. Have a great time! And on behalf of all the pets in the world; Thank you for taking us with!

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