If you and your dog were both born and raised in a city, and you are planning on taking your dog with you to stay in a cabin in the wilderness for a vacation, there's an important word you need to know—urushiol. Here's what it is and how it can affect you and your dog.
Urushiol is found in poisonous plants
You've probably heard of poisonous plants, such as poison ivy, oak, and sumac. Urushiol is the chemical in poisonous plants that causes them to make humans and animals itchy on contact. Rubbing against one of these plants or stepping on them will release urushiol, which is very sticky and difficult to simply wipe off. It's important for you and your dog to avoid these poisonous plants at all cost.
When you get to the destination and register your stay, ask the receptionist or clerk for a chart that explains the various types of leaves and plants to avoid. Alternatively, you can get this type of chart through your primary-care physician and through your dog's veterinarian. When you get to the cabin, put your dog inside the cabin and go outside to look for the poisonous plants so you can be aware of the areas to keep yourself and your dog away from.
What to do if you or your dog come in contact with urushiol
Once urushiol is on clothing, shoes, fur, and paws, the itch-producing chemical can get transferred to anything it comes in contact with. The important thing to understand here is that you and your dog may not feel the affects of urushiol until hours after initial contact. At that point, you will need to remove the sticky substance from affected skin. There are wipes designed specifically for this purpose for humans and for dogs.
Of course, with your dog's fur, especially if it has a thick coat, you'll need to take great care in finding the urushiol so you can remove it without getting any transferred onto your body. The most likely places on your dogs body for skin contact is in the groin region. However, your dog will probably try to bite or lick the itchy skin, and this could easily transfer the urushiol to your dog's nose and tongue. If your dog is severely affected by a poisonous plant, it's a good idea to take your dog to an emergency pet clinic for proper removal of urushiol and the application of a skin-soothing medication.
Talk to a vet, such as one at Animal Emergency Clinic, for more information and prevention tips.