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Animal Poisoning

Animals are poisoned by most of the same chemicals that poison people. A good rule of thumb is that if the chemical will make you sick it will also make your pet sick.

When using chemicals, read the label and follow the directions. If you think your pet ingested something from a container, save the container and have it with you when you ask for help. If the material is poisonous, the antidote is often listed on the container.

When using drugs, be sure to use the correct dosage. If you are unsure, call your veterinarian. Also, drugs that are safe in people and dogs may result in death when used in cats. Again, if you are unsure, call your veterinarian for advice.

Birds are more sensitive to air pollutants than people. In the old days miners would take canaries into the mines with them to monitor the air quality. When the canaries began having difficulty breathing or died, it was a signal to the miners that the air was bad and to get out in a hurry.

Poisons You May Not Know About
Strychnine is one of the most common fatal poisoning diagnosed in dogs. Strychnine is a commonly used rodenticide. It is also used in gopher baits. Domestic animals must be excluded from areas where rodent baits are placed.

Anti-Freeze Ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) is the most common fatal poisoning diagnosed in cats. Most cases are seen in the fall and winter. Anti-freeze has a sweet taste that many species of animals like.

Avocado Leaves Cases of avocado poisoning are seen periodically in Los Angeles County animals. Commercial production of avocados is located primarily in southern California and Florida. Two types of avocados are grown in California (Mexican and Guatemalan) and toxicity varies. Toxicity may also vary depending upon the time of year and other factors that are poorly understood. Various species of animals are susceptible to avocado poisoning. Dried avocado seed can kill mice.

Oleander A common ornamental evergreen shrub in Los Angeles County can kill animals that eat it. The plant contains a poison that acts on the heart. Do not feed Oleander trimmings to animals. Do not allow horses and livestock access to Oleander plants.

Yellow Star Thistle This weed is a special problem for horses in California. In the late summer and fall when the pasture is dry from lack of rainfall, horses may eat the weed if they are not supplemented with extra hay or forage. Consumption of large amounts of the seed over a period of time is essential for toxicity.

Moldy Feed Moldy feed (cereals, grains, meals, pelleted diets, hay) often contains toxins produced by molds or fungi. These poisons often damage the liver and can produce a sudden illness when large amounts are consumed or produce a gradual, but often fatal, disease. Deaths have occurred in horses fed moldy corn or hay.

Polymer Fume-Fever Bird owners should be aware of problems associated with using non-stick polymer coated pots and pans to boil water. Boiling water in non-stick cookware is especially hazardous because if the pan boils dry, the temperature rises resulting in the emission of toxic fumes. Birds are particularly sensitive to these toxic fumes, signs of toxicosis can occur within 30 seconds after exposure and death within 3 minutes. Disease can occur in other animals, including people, when exposure is prolonged. Most foods will smoke and burn before polymer fumes are emitted, alerting people to potential danger

Aspirin One adult aspirin given to a cat can kill. Check with your veterinarian before giving aspirin to your cat.

Acetaminophen, another common drug used for pain, should not be given to cats.

Chocolate Dogs, like many people, like chocolate. But unlike humans, chocolate can be poisonous to our canine companions. Just one ounce of baking chocolate or a chocolate bar can be life threatening to your pet. The amount of chocolate that is toxic to a pet is directly proportioned to the weight of the animal. Dogs reactions to chocolate can include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma and death. Other side effects include irregular heartbeat, hyperactivity, tremors, frequent urination, and restlessness. If you suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, contact your veterinarian immediately. Time is of the essence in your pet's recovery from chocolate poisoning. For the safety of your pet, don't give him or her any chocolate especially when there are so many other nutritious treats to give your pet.

Houseplants Flowers and plants are beautiful and add so much to our homes and yards. But, did you know many common houseplants and flowers may be hazardous to your pet? Here is a list of just some of the many poisonous flowers and plants:

Aloe Vera, Amaryllis, Andromeda japonica, Apple (seeds and wilting leaves) Apple Leaf Croton, Asparagus Fern, Autumn Crocus, Azalea, Baby's Breath, Bird of Paradise, Birdnest sansovioria, Bittersweet, Branching Ivy, Buckeye, Buddhist Pine, Caladium, Calla Lily, Carnation, Castor Bean, Ceriman, Cherry (seeds and wilting leaves), Chinaberry Tree (berries, bark, leaves, flowers), Chinese Evergreen, Christmas cactus, Christmas Rose, Chrysanthemum, Cineraria, Clematis, Coleus, Cordatum, Corn Plant, Cornstalk Plant, Croton, Cuban Laurel, Cycads, Cyclamen, Daffodil, Daisy, Day Lily (cats), Dracaena, Dragon Tree, Dumb Cane (all types), Easter Lily (especially cats), Elaine, Elephant Ears, Emerald Feathers, English Ivy, Fiddle-leaf Fig, Flamingo Plant, Florida Beauty, Foxglove, Geranium, German Ivy, Glacier Ivy, Glory Lily, Golden Pothos, Hahn's Self-Branching English Ivy, Heavenly Bamboo, Hibiscus, Holly, Hosta, Hurricane Plant, Hyacinth, Hydrangea, Indian Laurel, Indian Rubber Plant, Iris, Japanese Show Lily (especially cats), Jade Plant, Jerusalem Cherry, Kalanchoe (Panda Bear Plant), Lily of the Valley, Macadamia nut, Madagascar Dragon Tree, Marble Queen, Marijuana, Mexican Breadfruit, Miniature Croton, Mistletoe, Morning Glory, Mother-in-Law's Tongue, Narcissus, Needlepoint Ivy, Nephthytis, Nightshade, Norfolk Pine, Onion, Oriental Lily (especially cats), Peace Lily, Peach (wilting leaves and pits), Pencil Cactus, Philodendron, Plumosa Fern, Poinsettia (low toxicity), Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Pothos, Precatory Bean, Primrose (Primula), Red Emerald, Red Lily (especially cats), Red Princess, Rhododendron, Ribbon Plant, Rubrum Lily (especially cats), Sago Palm, Satin Pothos, Schefflera, Silver Pothos, Stargazer Lily (especially cats), String of Pearls/Beads, Sweet Pea, Sweetheart Ivy, Swiss Cheese Plant, Taro Vine, Tiger Lily (especially cats), Tomato Plant (green fruit, stem & leaves), Tulip, Variegated Rubber Plant, Wandering Jew, Weeping Fig, Western Lily (especially cats), Wood Lily (especially cats), Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Yew, Yucca.

Bones Turkey and chicken bones are particular favorites, especially during the holiday season. But these bones easily splinter and should not be given to pets. Bone splinters can puncture an animal's gastrointestinal tract causing serious internal injury which can result in the death of your pet. If you suspect that your pet has ingested turkey or chicken bones, contact your veterinarian right away.

Your Lawn Can Harm Your Pet
A study by the National Cancer Institute found that dogs in homes where lawns were treated four or more times a year with 2,4,-dichlorophenoxy-acetic acid (2,4-D), a commonly used weed killer, were twice as likely to develop malignant lymphoma (a form of cancer that attacks the immune system) as dogs in homes, where herbicides were not used. (The risk to humans is being studied.) To reduce the risk to your dog, use lawn pesticides only when absolutely necessary -- never as a preventive measure. Follow product label directions to the letter. Keep pets (and people) off the grass until it's dry or for the period specified by the manufacturer. After a few days the herbicide is absorbed by plants and broken down by sunlight. Until then, limit access to the treated area.


How to Reduce or Eliminate Excessive Barking
Part of responsible dog ownership is ensuring that your dog is not a nuisance to others. Barking is a natural dog behavior and most people want their dogs to bark to alert them to potential danger. However, owners who permit their dogs to bark excessively are permitting a public nuisance to occur and can be fined or issued citations. This information sheet is designed to assist you to correct a barking dog problem.
Why Dogs Bark
Dogs bark for many reasons. Some breeds, such as hounds, huskies, and herding breeds have been bred to be vocal. It can be difficult to eliminate this behavior since it is inherited. Other dogs bark out of fear or defense of their property. Being located near a busy sidewalk or other stimulus will cause many dogs to bark a lot. Many excessively barking dogs do so out of boredom, loneliness, and frustration. Changing their living conditions, finding them a companion, or devising other environmental changes can address this problem.

The first step to addressing a barking dog problem is to identify the reason for the dog's behavior.

Loneliness: In most situations. dogs bark because they are lonely. Dogs are pack animals and must have companionship to feel secure. In our society, the dog's pack is his human family. The dog that is kept exclusively outdoors, separated from his family, is frustrated and isolated. He barks to voice his loneliness. The best solution to this situation is to allow the dog to live indoors. If this is not possible due to allergies or other serious obstacles, a second dog can provide companionship to the barking dog. Care should be used in selecting the second dog to ensure it is not predisposed to barking as well. In any event, always make sure you spend time with your dog every day. Your dog relishes your attention and needs it to be happy and well adjusted.

Protectiveness/Fearfulness: Other dogs bark because outside stimulus agitates them. Being located next to a busy sidewalk, stairwell, a playground, or other area of high human activity will cause dogs to bark to protect their territory or out of fear of strangers. Try to find a location on your property where the dog will be the least exposed to these triggers. Provide a crate (if indoors) or doghouse (if outdoors) for the dog to retire to if he chooses. Never leave your dog in an area where he can be teased by passing children. This torment causes heightened aggression in dogs and may result in a bite or attack.

Lack of Socialization: Well-socialized dogs are less likely to bark excessively. They have been exposed to a variety of situations, people, and other animals and are less likely to bark out of fear or protection. Well-socialized dogs live indoors where they are part of the family and learn, on a daily basis, what is acceptable behavior. They are trustworthy around new people and new situations. All dogs should be positively exposed to new situations and rewarded for their good behavior.

Provide Distractions: If your dog barks when left alone, leave him with plenty of toys to occupy his attention. If he is playing or chewing on toys he will be too preoccupied to bark. Good diversions are Kong toys (available at your local pet supply retailer) that you can stuff with kibble, peanut butter, or other treats. Freezing the Kongs first makes the treats last longer and can occupy your dog for hours. Rotate the toys so your dog doesn't become bored with them, and only give them to him when you are gone. This will increase their attraction for your dog and he will be even more inclined to devote his attention to them instead of barking.
Training: Use training to modify your dog's excessive barking.
  • Never pet or soothe your dog if he is barking from fear. This reinforces his barking, which you are trying to stop. Do not encourage aggressive barking. Any positive reaction he gets from you will reinforce his behavior and make it more difficult to control.

  • If your dog is barking to demand something - a toy, treat, car ride, etc. - do not give into his demands and reward the undesirable behavior. Wait until he is quiet to give him his reward.

  • Teach your dog the word "Quiet" so he will know the command and be able to respond to it. To teach "Quiet" you will need either a squirt bottle with water and a little lemon juice or a shake can. When your dog barks when he isn't supposed to, squirt him in the mouth with the water and lemon juice. The taste will be a negative response to his barking and he will learn to cease barking to avoid it. A shake can is a small can with some pennies inside, taped shut so they don't spill out. It makes a loud, distracting noise and can be used instead of a squirt bottle. When your dog barks when he isn't supposed to, shake the can loudly and say, "Quiet!" This distracts your dog from the barking. Praise your dog when he has been quiet for several moments. These methods must be used within 2-3 seconds of the barking, or they will have no effect.

  • Praise and reward your dog when he is being quiet. Dogs want to please, and will learn you like it best when it is quiet. When your dog is exposed to a situation where he otherwise would have barked, but chose not to because of the training you have taught him, reward him with petting, treats, and attention.

  • Never hit, kick, or hold your dog's mouth shut. This will only teach your dog to fear you and may cause aggression problems. The proper way to curtail barking is to identify the cause and create interventions that both reduce the reason for the barking and train your dog that it is not acceptable behavior. Remember, it is your job as his owner to teach him the rules and provide an environment that doesn't support undesirable behavior.

  • Only use a bark collar as a last resort. Since they do not address the underlying cause of the problem they will not be a permanent solution. Avoid using electronic bark collars - they are only about 50% effective and can be painful. A better alternative is the Citronella collar. This collar contains a reservoir of citronella solution that sprays under your dog's face every time he barks. While the scent is pleasant to humans and not harmful to animals, dogs do not like the odor. A citronella collar is considered humane and a recent study reported an 88% rate of success with the use of this collar. One possible drawback is that the collar contains a microphone and the spray is delivered in. response to the sound of the bark. Therefore. other noises may set off the collar, causing your dog to be sprayed even if he hasn't barked. Also, some dogs can tell when the citronella reservoir is empty and will resume barking.


10 Tips For Coping With Pet Grief
  1. Understand you have the right to grieve. You have lost your companion, best friend, someone who gave you unconditional love.

  2. Focus on the grief and forget the anger and guilt.

  3. Allow yourself to go through the stages of reaction to death: denial, anger, depression, acceptance.

  4. Have some type of ceremony to say good-bye.

  5. Make a memorial for your pet, from various items and photos.

  6. Write a good-bye describing how much you cared, the good times you shared, and happiness together.

  7. When the pain becomes overwhelming, focus on the good memories to distract yourself.

  8. At first put the pet's belongings out of sight, so there isn't a constant reminder. Over a period of time, gradually bring them out again.

  9. Change your daily routine. Example: If you and your pet ate dinner every night at 7:00 p.m., go for a walk or talk on the phone at that time.

  10. Imagine what your pet would like you to be feeling right now...and feel that way.

Special thanks to Diane Kelley, Ph.D. - Psychotherapy and Counseling of Los Angeles and Manhattan Beach, California, (310) 559-3164, for providing this important information.

Cat Bites

Why are cat bites so dangerous?
Why is it that cat bites can be so dangerous? Over one million bites are reported in the United States yearly, most in children. Close contact with cats poses an important health risk to certain segments of the human population.

Cat bite wounds are more likely to become infected in people who are under 10 years of age or more than 50 years old. Systemic complications from bit wounds occur more commonly when the patient has underlying disease such as liver or kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, or degenerative joint disease.

Infection with human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV), or treatment with immunosuppressive drugs for cancer, immune-mediated diseases or for organ transplantation, have rendered these patients more susceptible to infection with zoonotic diseases. Patients with prosthetic heart valves or joints are more likely to develop systemic or local complications from cat bite wounds. If you are bitten by a cat, contact your doctor immediately.
Causes of Cat Bites
This is an endless topic to even attempt to address here, however, bite wounds usually occur in scared pets exhibiting aggression as a form of defense. Fortunately most often there are warning signs to appreciate before a cat strikes. These include the cat becoming tense, squinting, pasting its ears tightly against its head and leaning away. Unfortunately these early warning signs may occur so quickly as to leave little or no time to react.

Cat Care

Cats have specific nutritive requirements. For a balanced diet they need water, proteins, fatty acids and vitamins. Dried food helps keep the teeth and gums healthy. Wetting the food may cause wastage and spoilage. The spoiled food may make the cat sick. Never feed your pet cooked chicken or turkey bones. They easily splinter and may become lodged in his throat or intestines. Never serve food straight from the refrigerator. Cold foods may cause vomiting. A cat gets tired of monotony so be sure to feed him a varied diet. AND REMEMBER: Always keep fresh, cool drinking water available.

Safe Environment
A cat should be kept in a clean and safe area. A cat restricted to the house has the safest place in which to live. The cat put out to roam at night can be a nuisance to neighbors, a menace to sleeping birds, and a less satisfying friend and companion. The night prowler is also more exposed to injury and infectious disease. The litter box should be kept clean, removing feces daily in plastic bags. Studies have shown, cats kept indoors live substantially longer, healthier lives.

Good Health Care
Rule one in caring for your pet's health is choosing a veterinarian. Don't wait until your pet is critically ill before you seek the assistance of a veterinarian. If your pet shows symptoms of illness, get him to the veterinarian quickly. Cats should have annual veterinary physical check-ups. Spayed females are normally healthier, live longer, and do not have breeding problems. Neutered male cats do not have the tendencies to roam, spray their urine, or pick fights with other cats. Never give your cat aspirin.

Check with your veterinarian regarding vaccinations necessary to keep your pet healthy.

Dog Bites

Preventing and Avoiding Dog Bites
Statistics estimate that between 2 and 3 million dog bites are reported each year. Millions more go unreported. Children make up over 60 percent of dog-bite victims.

The following suggestions can help reduce bites:
  • Spay or neuter your pet. Spaying or neutering will reduce aggression but won't reduce your dog's protectiveness.

  • Train and socialize your dog to teach him/her appropriate behavior. Don't play aggressive games with your dog.

  • If your dog shows aggression by disobedience or dominant behavior such as growling or nipping, seek professional advice.

  • Never approach a strange dog, particularly one who's confined or restrained.

  • Don't disturb a dog who's sleeping, eating, or caring for puppies.

  • Don't pet a dog, even your own, without letting him/her see and sniff you first.

  • Avoid direct eye contact with a threatening dog. Instead, in a loud and low voice, tell the dog, "go home."

  • If you think a dog may attack, do not scream or run. Most dogs will only sniff you, decide you aren't a threat, and walk away. Try to remain motionless until the dog moves away, then back up slowly until he/she is out of sight. If the dog does attack, "feed" him/her your jacket, purse, or anything that can come between you and the dog.

Dog Care

The dog was the first animal to be domesticated. For 10,000 years he has served man as hunter, worker, guard, shepherd, and above all as loyal friend and companion.

Feed your dog balanced meals. If you choose a commercially prepared pet food, the words "complete" or "balanced" should appear on the label or package. Dogs have precise food requirements. Dry food or kibble is more economical. It can be fed moistened or dry. Feed puppies several times a day and dogs, between the ages of six months and one year, twice a day. Adult dogs can be fed once a day. Never feed your dog chicken, turkey or pork chop bones. These splinter easily and can do serious damage to the intestines. Do not feed raw eggs; they destroy an essential vitamin. Dogs do not need variety in food. ALWAYS keep, clean, cool water where your dog can help himself when he's thirsty. Water is vital to your pet's health.
Safe Environment
Keep your dog at home, within your yard or in the house at all times, unless accompanied by you or another responsible person at the other end of a leash. Otherwise, you are breaking the law and endangering the life of your pet. Don't feel bad because your dog can't "run free." It's not true that dogs need a lot of space to run in. Every dog needs a bed of his own, in a quiet spot well protected from drafts. This is his refuge and haven, where he can get the undisturbed rest that he needs. Put your license tag on your dog and not in a drawer. It will help reunite you with your pet if he or she gets lost.

Good Health Care
Rule one in caring for your pet's health is to choose a veterinarian. Keep his address and telephone number handy in case of emergency. Your veterinarian will help you prevent disease in your dog through continued inoculations and regular check-ups. Yearly inoculations are important for the health of your pet.

Special Training
Dogs are eager to please and like to be trained. You can easily teach your pet the basic rules of good behavior at home. Get a book of simple instructions from your library. All experts agree that dogs learn more quickly with kindness than with punishment. Be firm, but patient. Training should be fun for both master and pet.

Kids & Pets

Helping care for a pet by feeding him, grooming him, and interacting with him can teach your child about responsibility and nurturing. Here are some ways children of all ages can help:

Three to Five Years
  • Pour pre-measured food and water into serving dishes.
  • "Baby-Sit" pocket pets in another container while a parent or older sibling cleans the cage.
  • Place stickers on a chart to monitor feeding, obedience skills, watering, and cage cleaning.
  • Help line the birdcage with paper.
  • Pour fresh cedar shavings into hamster or guinea pig cage.
Six to Nine Years
  • Change water.
  • Hold the leash for a small dog on a walk with an adult or older sibling supervising.
  • Play with pocket pets while an adult or older sibling cleans cage.
  • Help give the dog a bath.
Ten Years and Up
  • Measure food.
  • Walk a dog small enough to be controlled by a child, with an adult or older sibling supervising.
  • Brush a cat or dog.
  • Clean cage.
  • Help dog practice obedience skills.


Clarksville Animal Control is offering the following suggestions to help keep all pets safe through the cold winter months.

Cold Weather
  • Don't leave pets outdoors when the temperature drops below freezing (32 degrees). Dogs need outdoor exercise but take care not to keep them out for lengthy periods during very cold weather. Dogs who are allowed to roam off leash might lose their scent in the snow and ice, making it harder to find their way home. Short-coated dogs may feel more comfortable wearing a sweater during walks. Dogs and cats are safer indoors in all sorts of weather. Animals should never be left outdoors unattended as they risk being stolen or otherwise being harmed.

  • Wind-chill can threaten a pet's life, no matter what the temperature. Outdoor dogs must be protected by a dry, draft-free doghouse that is large enough to allow the dog to sit and lie down comfortably, but small enough to hold in his/her body heat. Bigger is not better in this case. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. The house should be turned to face away from the wind, and the doorway should be covered with a flap of heavy waterproof fabric or heavy plastic.

  • Pets spending a lot of time outdoors need more food in the winter. Keeping warm depletes energy. Routinely check your pet's water dish to make certain the water is fresh and not frozen. Use plastic food and water bowls rather than metal; when the temperature is low, your pet's tongue can stick and freeze to metal.

  • Warm car engines are dangerous for cats and small wildlife. Parked cars attract small animals who may crawl up under the hood looking for warmth. To avoid injuring any hidden animals, bang on your car's hood to scare them away before starting your engine.

  • Never leave your dog, cat, or any other animal friend alone in the very cold weather. A car can act like a refrigerator and your animal could freeze.

  • Old, young and sick animals and certain breeds can be more sensitive to the cold, be sure to take that into consideration when letting them outdoors.

  • De-icing chemicals are hazardous. The salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice can irritate the pads of your pet's feet. They can also cause stomach upset if ingested. Wipe your pet's feet with a damp towel every time after coming in from outdoors - even if you don't see salt on walkways.

  • Antifreeze is a deadly poison. Its sweet taste attracts animals and children. Wipe up spills and store antifreeze out of reach. Better yet, use antifreeze-coolant made with propylene glycol; if swallowed in small amounts, it will not hurt pets, wildlife, or people.

  • Probably the best prescription for winter's woes is to keep your dog or cat inside with you and your family. The happiest dogs are those who are taken out frequently for walks and exercise but kept inside the rest of the time. Dogs and cats are social animals who crave human companionship. Your animal companions deserve to live indoors with you and your family.

Warm Weather
The Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control offers the following suggestions for proper care of pets during the warm weather.
Fourth of July
The sound of fireworks may cause a pet to panic and run away, sometimes so far and so fast it can't find its way home. Keep license tags on dogs. Confine pets inside the house or some other cool, safe place throughout the holiday weekend.
Summer Vacation
Many dogs travel well by car. Cats rarely do. If your pet is to travel with you, plan carefully for his comfort and safety. Take plenty of food and water, keeping water available at all times. Be sure the animal is wearing identification, and never release him in a strange area. He may wander away and be unable to find his way back.

If you choose to leave your pets at home, only a much trusted adult relative or friend should be left with that responsibility. A clean, reputable kennel is usually the best answer for pets while the owner is traveling.

Hot Weather
Irreparable brain damage or death may result if a pet becomes overheated. If an animal becomes extremely weak, pants excessively, or loses consciousness, it should immediately be sprayed with, or immersed in, cold water. Getting the animal to your veterinarian is critical.

California state law and common kindness require that all pets be provided with proper shelter, food and water. An animal must never be chained or confined where it can't easily reach a cool, shady place and an abundance of clean, fresh water. When jogging or bicycling, it's best to leave your dog at home. If he tries to keep pace with you in warm weather, the result could be fatal.

NEVER leave a pet in a parked car. Even with the windows open, the inside temperature of the car can quickly reach 102° when the outside temperature is 85°. Within 30 minutes the temperature can reach 120°. Hot weather precautions are as important for rabbits, birds, gerbils, hamsters, pet rats and mice, etc., as they are for dogs and cats. These small animals are especially sensitive, and cannot withstand hot temperatures for long. They should not be caged in direct sunlight, and must always have cool, fresh water.