Pet Owners Need to Be Aware of Hogweed Sap: It's Toxic!

I didn't know about Hogweed until recently. A news segment here locally in Washington warned everyone to stay away from these toxic weeds! I have to keep the dogs on a leash now in one area where we leave as these weeds are everywhere, and they get their noses on literally every part of each plant.

A since-deleted Facebook post offered a warning to all pet owners as this family's poor dog got tangled up with the toxic plant!

"We gave him Benadryl which did eliminate the hives but within an hour he developed large patches that were badly swollen , blistered and bleeding."

What's so dangerous is that hogweed looks really pretty when you're hiking. It's actually a nightmare.

Giant hogweed contains furanocoumarins, which is a toxin that causes severe phytophotodermatitis. The sap is found throughout the entire plant, but the stems and foliage have the highest concentration of the toxin.

What does Hogweed look like?

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is considered a harmful and poisonous weed by the federal government. The toxic plant can can grow up to 14 feet tall, but despite giant hogweed being surprisingly pretty, its thick leaves can span up to five feet wide with large clusters of white flowers forming umbrella pattern at the top of the plant. Its stems are green and adorned with purple blotches and white hairs.

According to the DEC (via CBS News), hogweed typically grows in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

What are the symptoms of Hogweed poisoning? 

In the first few hours, a dog's skin will be itchy and red, progressing to more severe symptoms within 12 hours. cites the following as symptoms to watch out for:

  • Redness and itching
  • Black scars that can last for years
  • Photosensitization (ulcerative and exudative dermatitis)
  • Blindness (bumping into things, falling down) B
  • Blistering rash that is very painful within two days
  • Light sensitivity in the skin that is affected (could last for years)

How terrible!

Take your dog to the vet immediately if you suspect they've gotten into some hogweed. If your dog is exposed then they'll have a sensitivity to sunlight for many years.

Your vet will probably apply a steroid cream, bandage the area, and you'll head home with some prednisone (also a steroid) that will help with the pain and swelling.

Have you ever seen Hogweed before! Please leave us a comment below!

This article was originally published August 29, 2019.

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