Hey, cat! Get out of the poison ivy!

By Kim Everson, DVM

Picture this…a warm May night in Wisconsin…spring peeper frogs serenading the setting sun…antique lilac bushes filling a quaint old cemetary with lush fragrance…a toddler sniffing the purple blossoms for the first time…the family pets — breaking all the rules by crossing the road — milling around the worn gravestones just to be near their people…

Then, suddenly, the idyllic scene is shattered as I notice a sleek orange shape slinking through the overgrowth at the edge of the tidy lawn. “Oh, cat! Get out of the poison ivy!”

No, I’m not worried about what the irritating oils of the poison ivy plant will do to Karate Kitten. Cats and dogs are rather impervious to uroshiol, the substance responsible for the itchy rash that afflicts many people. No, what I’m imagining with horror is Karate Kitten rolling luxuriously across my daughter’s bed or rubbing his sweet little cat face against my cheek later. Because the problem with cats and poison ivy is that they carry the noxious oil on their fur and transmit it secretly to us!

So your dog or cat inadvertantly just slathered the essence of poison ivy all over its fur. Now what? Bathing your pet with the liquid dish detergent Dawn–that world famous animal degreaser–should do the trick. Make sure you wear gloves, avoid contact with your pet’s eyes and ears, and rinse thoroughly.

And I, at least, will lock up all the dogs and cats before I wander near known poison ivy patches in the future!

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