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Are Dogs Immune To Stinging Nettles

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Dogs can be stung by stinging nettles despite their fur providing some protection.
  • Dogs with thin fur are more prone to getting stung.
  • Dog paws are the most likely body part to get stung by nettles, especially in puppies.
  • Signs of nettle sting in dogs include excessive scratching, panting, twitching whiskers, sweaty paws, and drooling. More serious signs include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, muscle twitching, dilating pupils, and extreme swelling.
  • Stinging nettles are edible but should not be consumed raw by dogs. Ensure the dog's play area is nettle-free and keep them on a leash when walking in unfamiliar places.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Zoo and wildlife doctor in veterinary medicine passionate about animal welfare and preventive medicine.
Published on
Sunday 28 August 2022
Last updated on
Monday 17 July 2023
Are Dogs Immune To Stinging Nettles
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Enjoying the outdoors can sometimes come with a price. You wander through meadows or grassy areas then you stumble upon stinging nettles. Anyone who experienced the bothersome effects of this herb would attest to how nasty it can be.  

Who else loves to bask in the sunshine outside? Our fur babies! You’ll see their sprints and zoomies as soon as they get their paws on the grass. So you wonder, can dogs get stung by nettles? Even if you see some stinging nettles, your dog seems unaffected by them. Are dogs immune to stinging nettles

Can Dogs Be Stung By Stinging Nettles?

Stinging nettles can cause discomfort to dogs, regardless of their fur. Although fur provides some protection, it doesn’t fully shield them from nettle stings or other thorny plants. Just like our hair, stings can still penetrate. Dogs have areas with little to no fur, such as their bellies, where they can feel the pain or itchiness from stinging nettles.

So, why do nettles sting? Stinging nettles contain biologically active substances that cause dermatitis or urticaria when they come into contact with the skin. These substances are released by the fine hairs on the leaves and stem of the nettles. It’s comparable to the way a fluid is secreted during an injection, but the hairs are so fine that they’re hard to see.

Stinging nettles are commonly found in spring. This plant has heart-shaped leaves with tapered ends. The stem and the underside of the leaves are covered in tiny hairs that cause discomfort. They typically grow in clusters, reaching a height of two to four feet.

Both humans and dogs can be affected by stinging nettles. Dogs with thin fur are more susceptible to stings than those with thick fur. However, exposed areas of their bodies are still at risk of being stung by the plant.

Can Stinging Nettles Sting Dog Paws? 

Yes, dog paws are the most likely body part to get stung by nettles. One reason is it is not covered with fur. And another reason is that area gets in contact with the plant when they step on it. Luckily, in adult dogs, most of their paws have developed callouses from walking. So, they will not feel the stings the same way as they will on their bellies. 

But, if you have a puppy, it’s a different story. Puppies have softer toe beans and are more sensitive to scratches or stings. So, they will feel the sting more than adult dogs.

Signs of Nettle Sting in Dogs

Now, how would you know if your dog got stung with nettles? Do stinging nettles hurt dogs? Despite the fun your dog is enjoying, you’ll see some common signs that he got stung with nettles. You’ll notice most of these obvious symptoms: 

  • Excessive scratching or itching
  • Panting
  • Twitching whiskers 
  • Sweaty paws
  • Drooling
  • Pawing on their mouth

Other more serious signs to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle twitching
  • Dilating pupils
  • Extreme swelling

Rare occasions of nettle stings on dogs may result in mild symptoms. But, repeated or prolonged exposures can lead to serious problems for dogs. A case of serious nettle poisoning in dogs caused neurological damage.

Can Your Dog Eat Stinging Nettles? 

When dogs are outside exploring, they can sometimes become curious and start pulling plants or even eating grass. In some cases, they may end up ingesting stinging nettles. While stinging nettles are actually edible and contain vitamins and antioxidants, they should not be consumed raw, especially by dogs. Eating them raw is a surefire way for your dog to get stung!

To prevent your dog from ingesting nettles, make sure their play area is free from these plants. When taking your dog for a walk, keep them on a leash so that you can control the areas they explore. If your dog is well-trained and stays within boundaries, you can let them go off-leash. However, in unfamiliar places with grassy areas, it’s best to keep your dog from running loose as you might be unaware of the presence of nettles.

How can you tell if your dog has eaten nettles? You may start to see some of the signs mentioned earlier, such as itching around the mouth, vomiting, diarrhea, or mild stomach issues.

What To Do If Your Dog Got Stung By Stinging Nettles?

You get home after walking your dog. Unfortunately, you found out he got stung by nettles, what should you do?

The first thing you need to do is to wash out the sting from his skin. Bathe your dog with soap to remove the sting. A gentle lather with soap will soothe the symptoms. The alkaline properties of the soap also help counteract the acid released by the stinging nettles. 

Another alkaline substance you can try is baking soda. Create a baking soda paste and apply it to the areas that got stung. Ensure to place a cone on your dog’s head so he won’t be licking the baking soda. Then, wash it thoroughly after a few minutes. 

In most cases, the sting from the stinging nettles will go away in a day. Call your vet if you tried home remedies but they didn’t work. You can help your dog by applying itch-relief products or by giving a dog-friendly antihistamine approved by your vet. These will relieve the itching, swelling, or other effects of the stinging nettles on your dog. 

Serious incidents of stinging nettles stings on dogs are rare. But, the effects of the sting from stinging nettles can be uncomfortable for your dog. It’s best to always inspect the play areas for both of you to avoid getting stung.

You and your dog can play outside without having to worry about nettles. Just follow the tips mentioned above to avoid getting stung. And if it happens, you’re now equipped with the knowledge on what to do. So, spend time and enjoy the lovely weather with your pooch!  

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