A very important and alarming issue is currently being addressed in the southern half of the United States of America. Sago palm trees are a popular landscaping tree and naturally appear in many southern yards, though their presence is now feared and generally unwelcome. A Baton Rouge, Louisiana couple, Nick and Jessica Madere, went through a heart-wrenching, losing battle with their precious dog’s life, all because the dog consumed part of a sago palm tree found in the couple’s yard. Determined to spread the news and save others from the same heartache, the couple appeared on local television with their story and urged others to rid their yards of the deadly plants. Sago palms are a plant to beware; upon ingestion the deadly toxins found in the plant will likely kill a dog.
Though there is a slim chance of survival if a dog were to ingest a part of a sago palm plant, it is best practice to assume that any contact with the plant is deadly for a beloved dog and promptly remove the threat from all accessible areas. Until the story was featured on local news many residents of the Baton Rouge area were unaware of sago palms’ toxicity. The plants are an icon of the southern states with palm tree characteristics and a unique tropical flair which compliments many yards. The Madere’s late dog has inspired a sago palm awareness which, with any luck, will spread to all other southern places the palms lay claim to.
An adorable dachshund by the name of Harper is a lucky survivor of sago palm ingestion. Her family had decorative sago palms in their yard and upon hearing the Madere’s story planned on taking them out, promptly putting their removal at the top of the family’s to-do list. Unfortunately, Harper decided to give a resident sago palm a taste before her owners could remove it. Harper began to show symptoms of distress and, armed with new knowledge of the deadly plants, her owners took her to the vet immediately for medications, IV fluids and observation. Harper’s life was spared, though her vet mentioned that only one other dog has survived sago palm poisoning in her care, warning owners to beware of the plants because they more often than not kill furry family members.
Upon ingestion sago palms inflict lethargy, severe stomach pains and intense vomiting. Affected dogs will definitely show signs of distress shortly after consuming the seeds located in the “pup” of the plant, which are where the toxins are located. With proper veterinary care immediately after exposure a dog may be as lucky as Harper.
Sago palms resemble palm trees with large, feathered tops and rugged, thick trunks. Though the plants are actually a part of the conifer, cone-bearing family. The palms are very resilient and fare well under neglectful circumstances, as well as in lower temperatures. Sago palms are found in many tropic and sub-tropic regions of the world and are particularly fond of warmer areas that receive adequate sunlight. They take awhile to reach maturity, though when they do they offer an exotic element to many gardens and yards.
The movement to rid yards of sago palms is growing in Baton Rouge, slowly spreading to other areas with an abundance of the plant. The “pup” of the plant is especially toxic and is often the part of the plant that dogs are interested in rooting in and eating. With proper awareness encouraging pet owners to beware the deadly plants, many dogs will hopefully be spared, with fewer killed by the plants with each coming year. For anyone whom resides in Baton Rouge, Harper’s family offers to remove sago palms from yards free of charge. Any dog residing in a tropical or sub-tropical area has a chance of encountering these deadly plants. Ensuring sago palm is in no way accessible to furry-friends is crucial.
By Courtney Heitter