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October 17, 2018

Humane Society: Poison ivy affects pets, too

After such a prolonged heat wave, the cooler temperatures have made the morning dog walk a lot more enjoyable.

And, it’s a reminder that autumn will be here in no time. The cooler weather also makes us think more about working in the garden, hiking and even camping.

These are activities where we can be exposed to poison oak and poison ivy. Have you ever wondered if our pets can get poison ivy if they come across it during a hike or other outdoor excursion?

Fact is that they can. Thankfully though, dogs don’t seem to get poison ivy nearly as commonly as humans. Their long, protective coats prevent the oils from poison ivy from reaching their skin. Unfortunately, however, the plant oils that cause the itching and irritation that often produce a painful rash can be spread from your canine friend to you. So if your dog “works” in the garden with you or accompanies you on a hike, keep this in mind.

Since our dogs and cats aren’t likely to become contaminated themselves and therefore do not alert us to possible exposure, what should we do to help prevent them from inadvertently transmitting poison ivy to us?

• Try to avoid petting your pet if you suspect poison ivy may be growing in the area and that your pet may have unwittingly found it when exploring. Using a towel to dry wipe him or her can significantly reduce the likelihood of transmission to you.

• Avoid touching your face and wash your hands.

• As soon as possible, take a shower. The plant oil from poison ivy or oak can linger on your own skin.

• Wash the clothes you were wearing. The chemical in the plant oil can stay active for a long time, and it doesn’t require a host.

• Wash your pet’s leash and harness with a mild detergent (make sure you handle the pet gear with gloves).

• Give your dog a bath to reduce the likelihood that poison ivy will find its way into your home.

Even if you don’t suspect poison ivy, toweling off and examining your dog is a good idea as ticks can also hitch a ride. Though monthly preventatives for fleas and ticks will protect your dog, you are still vulnerable. Ticks can carry human diseases, including the very serious Lyme disease.

Outdoor activities with your best friend can be fun. Awareness of some of the risks involved, and how to avoid them, can ensure that the entire experience will be a rewarding one.

Lynn Gensamer is the executive director of Humane Society for Greater Savannah. She can be reached by phone at 912-354-9515, ext. 105, or by email at lgensamer@humanesocietysav.org.

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Humane Society: Poison ivy affects pets, too

Pointers for preventing, treating poison ivy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Itching to know more about poison ivy? It’s the most common allergy with two out of three people being allergic to it.

For most of us, the rash occurs after we’ve been exposed to poison ivy at least once before in our lives.

Bruce Chladny of K-State Extension in Wyandotte County reminds us that the old adage, “Leaves of three, let it be,” definitely holds true.

“Not to confuse it with the five leaves of Virginia creeper. When you look at the plant, there’s three leaflets and that means it’s not good to touch,” says Chladny.

The rash ia an allergic reaction to the oil in the plant.

“So when the oil comes from the plant onto your skin, it gets into your skin and your body has that allergic reaction. It could either be through exposure as you walk through the garden…could be from touching a tool or some sort of machinery or something like that that had been in an infested areas.  Or off of pets,” says Chladny.

If you think you’ve been exposed to poison ivy, use soap and cold water quickly to remove the oil from the skin. Chladny says it’s important to use cold water because it keeps the pores of the skin closed.

You can’t get poison ivy from another person’s blister fluid. But Chladny says if there’s residual oil on someone’s skin and you touch that, you could get a rash.

To show you how powerful the oil is, five hundred people could itch just from the oil covering the head of a pin.

So how do you treat poison ivy? An over-the counter corticosteroid cream, calamine lotion, a cool bath with oatmeal or cool wet compresses. You may also want to try an antihistimine such as Benedryl to help you sleep.

See your doctor if the rash is widespread or on your face, if the blisters are oozing badly, or if the rash isn’t better after a few weeks.

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Pointers for preventing, treating poison ivy

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