Sago Palm Toxicity – A Pretty Yet Poisionous Plant

Sago Palm Plant

Spring is here! Before exercising your green thumb, learn more about what’s safe to plant in your pet’s yard. Many beautiful plants might be hazardous to your dogs and cats. The Sago palm plant is one particular tropical plant that should be excluded from any pet accessible landscape.

All parts of the Sago palm, a cycad plant, are poisonous if ingested but the seeds or “nuts” contain the largest amount of a toxin called cycasin. Even though the plant is covered with sharp spikes, your pet will not consider them a reasonable deterrent for their curious taste buds. Often times, Owner’s will find that out of all the plants and greenery in the yard, the single Sago palm is what their pet cannot resist chewing on. Unfortunately, pets can suffer from serious to fatal complications after ingesting this beautiful plant. This sad tragedy could easily be prevented by avoiding the plant all together. Familiarizing yourself with what the Sago palm looks like is essential to identifying it and avoiding its accidental incorporation into your yard. Most Sago palms are not labeled and simply are sold as a small palm tree. Ingestion of a small portion of the plant or seed can potentially lead to very serious effects, which include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures, liver failure and death. Many of the pets seen by veterinarians for Sago palm ingestion die within 7-10 days following plant ingestion due to liver failure. If the ingestion is caught immediately, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian can try various methods of detoxification and start liver health supplements which may save your pet’s life!

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has a list of toxic and nontoxic plants on their webpage at http://www.aspca.org. Unearthing new information on your future yard greenery is the best plan for insuring a great Spring for you and your pet!

Jennifer Hennessey, DVM, CVJ

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