Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sago Palm Toxicosis

Cycads, or sago palms, are usually found in warmer climates (Florida, Georgia, etc) but they are also used as houseplants.

These plants are highly toxic to dogs, sheep, cattle and people.

They produce several toxins that affect the liver and gastrointestinal tract, as well as possess the potential to cause cancer. There are also some toxins that cause neurologic signs.  

In dogs, what is seen following ingestion is often vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia. Signs often start within 24 hours of ingestion but may last over a week! 

Unfortunately, unless a dog is observed eating this plant, it can be hard to diagnose this as the specific toxicologic cause. As with so many of the toxins our pets ingest, treatment is supportive and symptomatic. We would get baseline and follow-up blood work. In some cases, animals would get their stomachs flushed or made to vomit and then given activated charcoal.  The other treatments are based on what the animal is doing at the time of presentation to our hospital.  

The reported mortality rate in dogs with clinical signs is 30%! So it's important to know what plants are toxic to your pets before having them in your home or garden.  

I can't say I have ever seen a dog that ingested this particular plant but who knows? They cannot tell us and we all see animals that get better with generic supportive care.

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