Beware: Sago Palm Will Kill Dogs

sago palm

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

Harper’s website
Garden of Eaden
Sun palm trees

One Response to "Beware: Sago Palm Will Kill Dogs"

  1. pam   April 6, 2015 at 9:28 am

    My two puppies got into a sago palm and had to be hospitalized. One Friday afternoon about 1:00 we were getting rid of a sago palm and our two Shih Tzu – maltase 4 month old puppies got a hold of the plant (for a very short time) and were chewing on it. Within about 2 hours they were both throwing up. I looked it up on line and saw that it is one of the most poison plants a dog/cat/horse/bird + other types of animals can ingest.
    We rushed them to the vet and within 4 hours of ingesting it they were put on IV’s and given toxiban (Activated Charcoal), Ondansetron injection (blocks the actions of chemicals in the body that can trigger nausea and vomiting), Famotidine (generic Pepcid AC, a histamine-2 blocker that works by decreasing the amount of acid the stomach produces), a superchem/cbc (blood test: a comprehensive blood chemistry panel that provides a good overview of many of the body’s functions; in this particular case: liver, pancreas and kidneys).
    This becomes a “wait and see” as the poison can take up to 48 – 72 to travel through the system. The superchem/cbc is the first test and the same test is done 72 hours later if you are lucky enough to get this far.
    They were kept in separate cages next to each other but could not see each other so they didn’t get excited and tangle their IV’s.
    The first night the female chewed through her IV so it had to be put back in.
    We visited them twice Saturday and Sunday they were closed but doctors checked on them several times that day. We arrived 8:00 am Monday morning. We found them in the same cage, just bathed and excited to see us!
    We had so many people praying for them and it worked so far. We were able to take them home and they are back to their cute little puppy selves. They went home with Sucralfate to coat their stomach once a day and Denamarin once a day on an empty stomach; a supplement for dogs and cats containing S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and silybin (milk thistle).
    They were also put on a liver sensitive diet while in the hospital along with water even though they were on IV’s. They gave us some of the food to take home and combine with their normal food (we give them Orijen).
    They are back to their normal puppy behavior. Now we are just waiting for the test results to see if there is any liver, kidney and/or pancreas damage. If there is, we have to re-evaluate the meds they take. We also have to do another blood work up in 3 weeks as this poison is slow moving.
    So far the cost has been about $1400.00 and worth every penny!!!


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