Stinging Nettle Poisoning Average Cost

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What is Stinging Nettle Poisoning?

The stinging nettle plant can grow well over 10 feet tall and is commonly found in uncultivated areas of moist soil such as pastures, wasteland, and alongside streams. Dogs, humans, and other animals who come into contact with the stinging nettle will experience unpleasant symptoms that can intensify with repeated exposure.

The leaves and stems of the stinging nettle are covered with trichomes, little hairs that contain histamines and other chemicals that can cause a reaction that may last for many hours. Canines who are exposed to the plant, especially in a repeated incident, can be poisoned by thousands of injections of acetylcholine which can seriously affect the peripheral nerves. Symptoms as serious as tremors and breathing difficulties may arise. Recorded instances of death due to this plant are few in number, but it is a possibility with a severe poisoning. If your dog comes into contact with the stinging nettle and is displaying signs of pain and toxicity, a veterinary visit is warranted without delay.

The stinging nettle plant is in abundance in many regions of North America. This plant is covered in small stinging nettle hair cells that break easily on contact, injecting secretions that cause numbness, pain, and itching to humans and animals upon exposure.

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Symptoms of Stinging Nettle Poisoning in Dogs

Humans that have experienced the pain caused by a stinging nettle will remember that the discomfort will begin soon after contact with the plant. Such is the case also for our canine friends. Some of the most reported symptoms in dogs who have brushed against or ingested the stinging nettle are:

  • Redness of the skin
  • Swelling of the skin
  • Intense itching and burning
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Labored breathing
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Twitching muscles

There have been reports of exposure by inhalation as well, whereby dogs running through fields may breathe in large amounts of the stinging nettle, causing intense pain in the nasal passages along with intensified reactions to the substances contained within the plant.


The stinging nettle is known scientifically as Urtica dioica L. , from the family Urticaceae. Other common names for the plant are:

  • Tall nettle
  • California nettle
  • Slender nettle

Causes of Stinging Nettle Poisoning in Dogs

  • Within the stinging nettle are histamines, acetylcholine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine
  • The plant can be found in ditches, orchards, on farmland, and beside streams
  • The plant releases secretions that enter the skin as the hairs break upon contact
  • The hair tips are angled and hollow, allowing for easy puncturing of the skin
  • The nettle will release toxic substances to the nerves of the body, and histamines that cause swelling

Diagnosis of Stinging Nettle Poisoning in Dogs

If your pet has returned from an off leash walk and is displaying signs of stinging nettle poisoning, or you have witnessed him coming into contact with this pain-inflicting plant it is a good idea to make a visit to the veterinary clinic in order to provide your pet with relief and to avoid further health complications.

If possible, transport a piece of the plant in a container or bag, being careful not to inflict the stinging nettle pain on your own skin. Having a sample of the plant for positive identification will enable the veterinary team to make a definitive diagnosis in a timely manner. 

Diagnosis of the stinging nettle plant will be based on the history of the event and the clinical symptoms; the veterinarian will examine your dog and verify that his vital signs (blood pressure and heart rate) are normal. The veterinarian will take a look at your pet’s skin, nose, mouth, and eyes for signs of redness due to stinging nettle exposure. There is no specific test for determining this type of poisoning, but if your pet is displaying severe signs such as loss of coordination, excessive vomiting, or dilated pupils the veterinarian may want to perform blood tests and urinalysis to rule out other types of toxicities, or to determine if an underlying disease process is exacerbating the symptoms normally seen with exposure to stinging nettle.

Treatment of Stinging Nettle Poisoning in Dogs

Fortunately, most cases of stinging nettle poisoning result in dermatitis only. If this is the situation with your pet, a gentle washing of the skin, and sometimes a light scraping of the skin’s surface (in a dog’s case particularly the pads of the feet and areas of the body where fur cover is sparse) to remove any embedded plant hairs will be the first step of treatment. A topical medication may be applied to ease the redness and itching. When a dog is having a more intense reaction to the sting and pain, an injection of atropine sulfate to counteract the poisoning and nerve sensitivity may be given, along with an antihistamine to relieve inflammation and swelling that may have resulted from the nettle penetration.

If your pet chewed on the nettle, the veterinary team will rinse your dog’s mouth with cool water in an effort to remove some of the nettle hairs and to provide relief from the sting.

In the rare case of severe poisoning by stinging nettle that may involve excessive vomiting and diarrhea, dogs may need to be given intravenous fluids to bring electrolytes back to normal. Medication, if needed for pain relief, reversal of nerve irritation, or to stop nausea and vomiting, can also be given easily through intravenous therapy, which will help to calm an anxious pet.

Recovery of Stinging Nettle Poisoning in Dogs

The majority of incidences of stinging nettle poisoning will end on a positive note after a period of several hours at most. Studies have shown that the effects of the nettle can be felt for up to 12 hours. There has been recorded documentation of a group of hunting dogs who suffered repeated exposure to large amounts of inhalation and penetration of the skin perishing as a result of stinging nettle poisoning without treatment; however, death is not common.

Because the stinging nettle grows so prolifically in fields, ditches and open areas with moist soil, it is recommended that you avoid these areas when allowing your dog off leash. Walking your pet on leash in a safe, nettle free park may be the wisest decision in order to avoid a painful, potentially harsh, experience for your pet.

Stinging Nettle Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Presa Canario
5 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Loss of fur. Itching. Biting.

I have quite a lot of nettles in my garden and both my dogs run through them but my 5month old puppy has recently started losing fur and biting himself a lot and has a slight rash on one side of his back end. Could this be down to the nettles and If so should I take him to the vet? Or could it be something else causing the loss of fur. He’s losinf quite a bit over the last week.

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german shepard
2 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Coughing , licking dry heaving
Coughing ,

Just wondering if I should be worried . He seems him self just aggravated. He keeps licking and coughing every hour . Is there anything I can do to make him feel better

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2499 Recommendations
Typically symptoms are similar in dogs as in humans, but if a dog eats some nettles they may present with other symptoms including drooling, pawing at the mouth, vomiting among other symptoms. Dogs are generally alright, but if the throat is swollen it may cause an issue with breathing; keep an eye on Kimbo but visit your Veterinarian if there is no improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Boston Terriers
5 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

I am pretty sure that Leia must have walked through stinging nettle in our back yard (that I just discovered) and she is experiencing pain/discomfort on her left front leg. She won't even walk on it and when she tries to walk all she does is bite her leg. I have checked for possible bites or swelling due to an injury but there are none. I can tell she is extremely uncomfortable. What else can I do to help her feel better?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2499 Recommendations
If Leia had walked through some stinging nettles we would expected to see some rash on the skin and for it to be affecting more her abdomen (more exposed due to lack of hair) than a limb; also stinging nettles wouldn’t cause this degree of limping. I feel like some other traumatic event has occurred, but it is difficult to say without examining her; bath her with a sensitive shampoo to remove anything that may be on her skin, but keep her rested and prevent her from biting at the leg (a cone may help). If you see no improvement visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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collie x
7 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Hi Dog may have ingested s/nettle..Appeared agitated..eating copious amount of grass where nettle is..Coughing a bit as if s/thing stuck in throat..drooling after drinking..slight tremor movement in head but not all the time..Ate her dinner..normal poo etc..good colour in mouth but still seems not right..just cannot put my finger on it..

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2499 Recommendations
Nettles cause oral irritation which usually prevents large amounts being consumed, but some dogs do consume larger amounts which may lead to more severe symptoms which may include muscle twitching and ataxia. If you are noticing tremors, it may be worth seeing your Veterinarian to be on the safe side to receive some supportive and symptomatic care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Springer spanial
4 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Eye watering

My dogs eye won't stop watering since coming into contact with nettles out my garden. It's only 1 eye. But it's obviously weeping and he is struggling to keep it open. Please help

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
2499 Recommendations
Rinse out Archie's eyes with lukewarm water, just let the water run over his eyes gently and also bathe the skin around the eyes too. It will take some time to stop being irritated but there should be no long term issues; just prevent him from pawing at his face. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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