Beware the Fronds: Palm Toxicity in Pets
Spring is just around the corner, and for many of us, that means that garden and landscape planning has begun in earnest. Whether you are an avid vegetable gardener or ornamentals is your thing, the onset of warmer weather is a truly exciting time.
Pet owners have more to think about than simply what and where to plant our vegetables, flowers, and greenery. Many plants commonly found in and around the outside of our homes can pose a risk of poisoning to our furry friends, including the popular sago palm. Sago palm toxicity in pets is a serious problem, but education and prevention can keep your pet safe.
Sago Palm Toxicity in Pets
All parts of the sago palm are toxic to pets, but the seeds (nuts) are most toxic because they are easily eaten. The primary toxic agent in sago palms is called cyasin, which results in liver failure after ingestion, if left untreated. The amount of plant matter ingested, plus the size of the pet, influence the degree of sago palm toxicity.
What to Watch out For
Symptoms of sago palm toxicity in pets can begin as quickly as 15 minutes, or as long as several hours, after ingestion. Common signs include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Black, tarry stool
- Increased thirst and urination
- Neurological symptoms, such as depression, circling, paralysis, seizures, coma
Diagnosis and Treatment
Sago palm toxicity is not easily diagnosed, as there is currently no way to test for cyasin in a pet’s system. If you did not see your pet ingest sago palm, blood and urine tests can help to support the presence of sago palm toxicity.
If caught early enough, vomiting can be induced and activated charcoal used to absorb toxins from the stomach. If liver damage has progressed, hospitalization may be necessary. Suggested treatment may include IV fluid therapy, medications to control vomiting and diarrhea, blood transfusion, and antibiotics to control secondary infections.
You Are Your Pet’s Best Bet!
Protecting your pet from sago palm toxicity usually means keeping the plant out of your home or garden. Additionally, supervise your pet while on walks or in unfamiliar areas to make sure they don’t come into contact with a sago palm.