Dear Daisy Dog
I took Samantha, my 3-year-old Labrador retriever, for a walk in the woods last week. Now I’m covered with poison ivy, and I think Sam has it, too. She constantly licks and bites her paws, which are raw, and her belly has a rash. How should I treat her poison ivy?
I doubt Sam has poison ivy, because we dogs are immune to its effects.
More likely are allergies to summer pollens and other inhaled substances. While you allergic humans sneeze, blow your noses and rub your itchy eyes, we dogs manifest allergies through our skin. The paws, belly, armpits and ear canals are most often affected.
Our skin gets red and itchy -– thus the licking and chewing -– and often the hair disappears. The rash you describe may be a skin infection secondary to the allergy.
Inhalant allergies usually start around two to four years of age, and they’re more common in some breeds than others, notably Labradors.
Make an appointment to have your veterinarian examine Sam and prescribe treatment that will help her feel better.
The next time Sam walks through poison ivy, bathe her before the two of you snuggle. My mom learned the hard way that poison ivy oil, called urushiol, can spread from doggy hair to human skin, causing itchy blisters on people who may never have walked through the poison ivy themselves.
While poison ivy doesn’t plague us dogs, the summer holds many other potential hazards. To learn more about them and other topics, subscribe to a free pet newsletter written by veterinarian Dr. Phil Zeltzman. Starting July 17, Zeltzman presents a three-part series on Summer Dangers. To sign up, visit his Web site at www.drphilzeltzman.com.