I wrote this post in July 2013 and decided to repost it today when I realized what I was scratching on my ankle was not a mosquito bite, but the beginning of an outbreak of Poison Ivy. Oh, yes. The dogs have been up on their hunting hill! My post received a great deal of attention from my readers back in 2013. Here it is again, for new readers to the blog, and as a reminder to all poison ivy sufferers…
Poison Ivy: Can dogs get it and break out in an angry, itchy red rash that can turn blistery with an acute case? No, thankfully, dogs don’t get this dreaded summertime curse. Yes, I call it a curse because I have been plagued by Poison Ivy since childhood. I am always on the lookout for those pointy, shiny green leaves. There are many look-alikes, but someone like me knows only too well what vine-like plants are and are not Poison Ivy. Here, on the Farm, Poison Ivy is everywhere. I’ve learned to avoid it as I did as a child when playing in the field behind our house.
So, dogs don’t get Poison Ivy, but people can get Poison Ivy from dogs. The dog can carry the oil of the Poison Ivy leaf on his fur. When a person pets the dog’s fur, she can get the rash from the oil she has touched on the dog’s fur. I learned this several years ago when I broke out in an acute case of blistery poison ivy on my legs. I hadn’t been anywhere near any Poison Ivy, but the dogs’ favorite hunting hill grows a healthy crop of the stuff. It flourishes on that wooded hill. You would think I was fertilizing it. Covered in Poison Ivy over my entire legs, I observed one of my dogs actually lying down in the shiny leaves on the hillside. Evidently, a very cool, shady spot!
This was a dilemma. What to do? I couldn’t prevent the dogs from hanging out on their hunting hill. Seeking a solution, I spoke with the man who cuts our lawn. No, he said, you can’t cut it down. The person doing the cutting would surely come down with a severe case of poison ivy. No, he said, you can’t burn it. You can get Poison Ivy from the fumes. What then? I asked. His solution was to use a highly diluted Poison Ivy killer. I resisted this solution. I couldn’t, just couldn’t, use any type of poison where my dogs tread. He assured me that it is used all the time and is perfectly safe around children and dogs. Still I resisted.
The following summer, I changed my tune. I spend a lot of time training, bathing, and grooming my dogs. Thus, I’m handling their fur a lot. Once again, I broke out in an acute case of unsightly, blistering Poison Ivy on the back of my legs. This occurred just a few weeks before my daughter’s wedding! Mind you, when the blisters heal, I’m left with scars that eventually fade over time. This was enough! I gave the lawn man the okay to go ahead with the Poison Ivy killer. It killed off the plants over a period of several weeks. But, what I wasn’t expecting was the plants growing back the following summer. The crop seemed even more vigorous! Not a permanent solution.
A forester friend gave me my solution! This woman spends all day in the woods, and she, too, is plagued by acute cases of Poison Ivy that have hospitalized her. She told me about a product called Tecnu. It’s actually a wash. After being exposed, you’re supposed to wash the exposed areas of skin with the Tecnu wash. Her tip, however, was to apply the oily substance as a preventative. She buys it in gallons and applies a thin coating before going to work each day. I have followed suit. I cover my arms and legs with Tecnu as a preventative. If I feel a spot of the rash ready to erupt on my neck, or face, or other area I didn’t cover, I quickly apply it there and keep doing so each day.
Since following this regime, I have avoided acute cases of blistery Poison Ivy. The dogs continue to lounge wherever they like on their hunting hill, and for me – so far so good. Now, I’m not endorsing the use of this product for others in any way but as directed. I’m sure using it as a wash immediately after exposure, as directed, would be highly effective for most people. I’m an acute Poison Ivy sufferer, I’ll do the extreme!