Poison Ivy–Effects on Pets and Other Animals.

Random Topic #10

It’s been years since I’ve had poison ivy – and it’s probably due to just dumb luck as it is quite common in Arkansas and we have quite a bit of it on our property.  We don’t have any pets or other animals, so I’ve never really thought about how poison ivy would affect other creatures.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is an Asian and North American plant, known for the irritating, itching rash it causes in some people, a rash that is also sometimes painful.  The numerous subspecies of Toxicodendron radicans – poison ivy – are variable in appearance and habit and can be found growing as a climbing vine that grow on trees or other supports, a shrub as tall as 4 feet (1.2 meters), or as a trailing vine.  The compound that causes the rash is urushiol, an odorless, colorless clear liquid in the plant’s sap. Contrary to some beliefs, the urushiol in poison ivy is not a defensive measure to ward off animals, but, rather, helps the plant retain water.1

While many sources say pets and virtually all other animals are not sensitive to effects of urushiol, some papers document that dogs can get the rash.2  Unfortunately, pets that roam outside can carry the oil to their humans as well as other surfaces.Poison ivy is commonly eaten by many animals, such as cattle, goats, deer and bear, and the seeds are consumed by birds. Studies have shown that white-tailed deer prefer eating poison ivy over most other plants.

Definition of urushiol: a mixture of catechol derivatives with saturated or unsaturated side chains of 15 or 17 carbon atoms that is an oily toxic irritant principle present in poison ivy and some related plants (genus Rhus) and in lacquers derived from such plants.4


  1. Toxicodendron radicans – Wikipedia
  2. Dogs CAN Get Poison Ivy? – Poison Ivy
  3. Do Dogs And Cats Get A Poison Ivy Rash? – About.com
  4. Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Image information:

  • Image by Jan Haerer (leoleobobeo); Accessed on Pixabay, October 12, 2016; CC0 Public Domain, Free for commercial use, No attribution required.
  • This image differs from the original in that the dead foliage clutter has been converted to greyscale.  This does not change the copyright status of the work as the only original contribution is altering color.
photography, plants, random topic

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Hilary Oct 13, 2016

    Hi Mike – interesting that all animals are not protected from poison ivy and its effects … especially for dogs as they do scavenge around searching and smelling and then can transfer the sap to other pets or humans … not a good thing … cheers – Hilary

    • Mike Oct 13, 2016

      From what I read, it’s only a few dogs that are sensitive to poison ivy, according to a few studies. However, most sources say that humans are the only creatures susceptible to poison ivy allergies.

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