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Felix Adamo/ The Californian

Columnist Sherry Davis.

Do you know how to recognize common signs of poisoning? Do you know what common substances are toxic to pets? The answers to those questions could make the difference in your pet's life or death.

Some common signs of poisoning include, but are not limited to:

* Vomiting

* Coughing or vomiting blood

* Diarrhea

* Pale gums

* Drooling or hyper-salivation

* Weakness or lethargy

* Lack of appetite

* Collapse

* Nausea

According to the ASPCA, the following are the top 10 toxins to pets (cats and dogs):

1. Prescription medications for humans; most dangerous are heart medications, antidepressants and pain medications.

2. Insecticides, especially for cats that lick themselves all over.

3. Over-the-counter medications: aspirin, fish oils, herbal medications, ibuprofen.

4. Household cleaning solutions or powders.

5. People food: onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, sugar substitutes and chocolate. When eaten in large enough quantity, chocolate may cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, elevated heart rates and even seizures. Dark chocolate is worse.

6. Veterinary products: medications that have been flavored to appeal to pets.

7. Rodenticides: intended to kill mice and other rodents, these are extremely dangerous.

8. Plants: If toxic plants are ingested by pets they can quickly cause kidney failure and death.

9. Lawn and garden products: fertilizers, bone meal, cocoa mulch.

10. Any cleansers used for mopping floors and dusting furniture.

And here are some additional toxins to be aware of:

* The ASPCA also advises against the use of tea tree oil to treat skin infections in pets. Undiluted tea tree oil is so potent that even a drop or two applied to a pet can cause harm and there is no antidote for tea tree poisoning.

* Besides smelling like pond-slime, dogs that swim in ponds or play in stagnant bodies of water or water containing fertilizer run-off can become ill or even die from blue-green algae toxicosis. The sins of poisoning are vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, liver failure and death. The treatment is the same as if the pet has ingested poisonous plant materials.

* I say this every year but it bears repeating. The seeds AND the leaves of Sago Palms are extremely poisonous and can result in a very painful death for a pet. Don't plant these plants where your pets (especially puppies) play.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested any part of a Sago Palm, it should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

The Pet Poison Control Center: 800-213-6680.


A shameless shout-out to my 12 students (and their 13 wonderful dogs) who competed in obedience and rally at the Kern County Kennel Club's shows and went home with the following:

* Six new titles

* 33 qualifying scores (20 of which were award placements)

* 22 title "legs" (it takes three qualifying legs under two judges to earn a title)

It was an impressive feat accomplished with an extraordinary display of team camaraderie and good sportsmanship.

-- Sherry Davis is a dog trainer/owner of CSI 4 K9s. Email her at csi4k9s@ These are her opinions, not necessarily The Californian's.