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This Plant Will Kill Your Dog (and maybe your kids)

October 3rd, 2007 tony Leave a comment Go to comments

We were letting our dog play outside all day Sunday and upon checking on him found that he had yanked a small houseplant off of the deck and was chewing on the root of it. He chews on all kinds of plants in the yard and I thought of tossing it over the fence but figured he would just try to dig under to get it so unfortunately I let him keep it.

A couple hours later we let him in the house and he’s foaming yellow froth, drooling, and shaking. 20 minutes later we are in the emergency vet and are told the prognosis is not good and he’ll likely die.

The plant is called a Sago Palm and its highly poisonous to both pets and humans. A chemical in the plant called cycasin is toxic and often causes permanent liver damage as well as neurological damage if enough of the poison is absorbed by the body. The seeds are the most poisonous part of the plant and the effects on humans are seizures, coma and death.

Of course you and I wouldn’t just yank off a chunk of this plant and gnaw on it but the seeds are colorful so if you have kids and Sago palm in your yard educate them on the danger or get rid of the plant.

Fortunately our dog was one of the lucky ones. I later discovered that our dog vomited the plant in the yard soon after swallowing it, and after 2 days in the vet on IV, and having a ball of charcoal inserted in his stomach, a test revealed that his liver was recovering and he came home. Sadly few people are aware of how dangerous this plant, many have lost their dogs, and even many veterinarians are unaware. This plant doesn’t carry a warning label and is becoming popular in Walmart, Lowes, and Home Depot so spread the word.

Best advice I’ve read: Don’t let your animal chew on any plants.

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  1. aud
    October 4th, 2007 at 13:48 | #1

    Just like to mention, that sago is edible and used widely in desserts in South East Asia (once the toxins are leached out).

  2. Erin
    October 4th, 2007 at 15:35 | #2

    Thank you so much for the valuable information. We should start a petition to the retailors to boycott this plant! You may have saved my dog’s life.

  3. October 4th, 2007 at 16:17 | #3

    Neat post, hadn’t heard of that toxin before. Did a bit of research, turns out that the seeds of the Sago Palm (which isn’t actually a real palm) and other members of the genus Cycas contain cycasin as well as a related compound called neocycasin. Both are cyanogenic glycosides, which means they consist of a sugar molecule bound to another molecule that contains a cyanide group. When these toxins are ingested, enzymes in your body break them down, releasing the cyanide. That’s why they are so freakin’ toxic.

  4. Chris
    October 4th, 2007 at 16:49 | #4

    Yeah, there are a lot of plants that will kill your dog/cat/child. The spent hops from brewing beer will kill a dog by malignant hypothermia for example.

  5. Tom
    October 4th, 2007 at 17:25 | #5

    Ban a plant because it may be poisionous? Are you serious? How about you don’t buy it if you don’t want it?

    Let’s kill off bears and tigers because they can kill people.

  6. Gully Foyle
    October 4th, 2007 at 17:57 | #6

    Licorice is also toxic if taken in high enough dosages. Every year hundreds die from it.
    Tapioca is toxic until processed.

  7. October 4th, 2007 at 20:01 | #7

    Thanks for the heads up. And, I’m with Tom. Wanting to “ban” the plant is just plain stupid. Be smart. Avoid it if you have pets or kids.

  8. Nate
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:17 | #8

    Don’t be foolish, watch your kids and dogs. There are lots of poisonous plants used in everyday landscaping. We don’t need to boycott the Sago Palm, and if we do then we should also outlaw Poinsettia during the holidays.

  9. Bri
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:28 | #9

    There are tons of very common poisonous plants, including the potato and tomato. If you are that concerned I would consult this list, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_poisonous_plants. However, the more obvious solution might be to train your dog not to tear your backyard to pieces.

  10. James
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:29 | #10

    Wow.. my dad just planted like 10 of these plants at his duplex he sold to my aunts. They have kids.. I just showed him this article. LOL

  11. Volker
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:29 | #11

    More along the lines of… Put a warning label on it so people know that the plant is dangerous, it’s not as much as banning the sale, but informing the public of the hazard.

  12. Juliet
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:40 | #12

    It’s ridiculous to suggest the boycotting of a plant or product because it may be dangerous. As a pet owner or parent it is our responsibility to educate ourselves on the items we bring into our homes, before doing so, to ensure that we take the necessary precautions to protect our families and animals and, most definitely, our choice to not purchase them at all. Most household items are deadly if exposed to them in various ways. As far as plants are concerned… think Christmas without poinsiettas, mistletoe, holly and so many others I won’t bother listing because there are too many. It’s great to be concerned but be we need to be smart about the actions we take and we can’t be so quick to blame others for our ignorance.

  13. Karl
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:40 | #13

    I’ve got a great idea: Let’s ban life. It’ll only end in death!

    Sago palms are popular, yes, but the better idea is training Fluffy and/or your kids to NOT eat anything that they find outside without bringing it to you first. Responsibility and supervision: Try it! It’s a new concept!

  14. Brian
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:47 | #14

    I agree with Karl. Great idea! :)

  15. Kris
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:51 | #15

    Erin, please tell us you are joking. Or at least ban poison ivy first :P

  16. Richard Mongler
    October 4th, 2007 at 20:52 | #16

    Idiots. This wack job never even cites sources for this bullshit and you’re still gullible enough to believe it.

  17. Joe
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:00 | #17

    I’m all for personal responsibility but you people who think you can train a dog not to chew on anything outside clearly don’t know what a dog is.

    Kids, ok, if they’re not too young. But that sounds like a pretty doggone poisonous plant, and not many people check their Home Depot purchases against Peterson’s Guide to Poisonous Plants. A warning label would surely be a good idea.

  18. Joe
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:04 | #18

    Sago palms are edible, you just have to prepare it correctly. Raw meat will make you sick too. I live in Florida and these things are all over the place around here (though not nearly as common as the saw palmetto or sabal palm). Palm hearts from the sabal palm are the best though.

  19. tony
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:09 | #19

    @Richard Mongler
    Cite sources? This is my blog not my thesis.

  20. Jimmy
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:10 | #20

    I’m all for personal responsibility but you people who think you can train a dog not to chew on anything outside clearly don’t know what a dog is.

    Kids, ok, if they’re not too young. But that sounds like a pretty doggone poisonous plant, and not many people check their Home Depot purchases against Peterson’s Guide to Poisonous Plants. A warning label would surely be a good idea.

  21. Max
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:10 | #21


    I have started a petition requesting all idiots be banned from the internet. I may have saved thousands of lives!

  22. sam w
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:14 | #22

    “but the better idea is training Fluffy and/or your kids to NOT eat anything that they find outside without bringing it to you first.”

    How about just NOT EATING ANYTHING they find OUTSIDE.

  23. October 4th, 2007 at 21:16 | #23

    Yeah lets also ban cleaners and detergent because that can kill your kids and pets as well. Hundreds of dogs die from disinfectants every year because people are careless, and kids have serious health problems if they just smell the toxins. Be more responsible. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to read the label.

  24. Scott
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:18 | #24

    Yeah Erin, Lets boycott a plant. While we are at it, lets prosecute the plant and all who sell it. Brilliant! Making cannabis illegal sure has worked out well for everyone as did prohibition. Or alternatively we could simply pay attention to our pets, children, etc and on occasion use just a smidgen of common sense. Just a thought. To the contributor of this article, thanks and interesting.

  25. Stupid Chick
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:20 | #25

    Erin is a dummy, Erin is a dummy.

  26. Geek1
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:31 | #26

    Uh, Hello! Lots of plants are poisonous. What is wrong with you people? READ A BOOK!

  27. Cytzn
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:47 | #27

    I think you have to understand a loved member of her family almost died because of this plant. Her motives behind wanting to ban the plant are justifiable in that sense.

  28. October 4th, 2007 at 21:49 | #28

    Re Geek 1: Yeah, no kidding–I’d recommend anything by Dale Pendall for information on this topic…

  29. ChrisW75
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:57 | #29

    Yeah, a warning label is a good idea, not just to let people know it’s poisonous, but also to prevent companies/people selling the plant getting sued by people.
    One thing to note is that I believe that it’s reasonably rare for pets to die from these sorts of things because USUALLY poisonous things tasty nasty. The whole point of the poison is to prevent animals from eating the plant, not much good if it just kills them some time later. they usually get sick and never go near the stuff again. I’m just basing this on the fact that I don’t know a single person whose pet died from eating poisonous plants so I could be wrong.
    Poisonous plants in my garden (that I know about)
    Note that these are also edible. Go figure.
    Tomatoes, potatoes, capsicums/peppers, aubergine/egg plants are all members of the same family – The Nightshade family.

  30. Plant Man
    October 4th, 2007 at 21:58 | #30

    I own a nursery, and I’d say maybe 75% of the thousands of plants we carry are poisonous. We have plants that can cause your esophagus to swell causing you to choke to death, plants that within seconds of touching the sap of them cause a fire burning itch that feels like your skin is melting, plants that used to be used as a lethal injection component 100’s of years ago, and plants that cause loss of eye sight and hallucinations. Always ask your nursery owner, and if they don’t know have them check an encyclopedia or other reference material for you.

  31. cheesus
    October 4th, 2007 at 22:09 | #31

    Erin………when you make comments like that, I begin to think Ann Coulter is starting to make sense.

  32. sewerraccoon
    October 4th, 2007 at 22:10 | #32

    That sucks, its’s a cool little tree thingy.

  33. Lauri
    October 4th, 2007 at 22:12 | #33

    why is there so many rude people posting to this site? People have ideas and opinions, it doesnt make them stupid. If anyone is lacking intelligence, I’d say it’s the people who refuse to be tactful and polite with their responses. I do, however, agree there is a ton of poisonous plants out there, and banning one wont make much of a difference if the dog chooses to ingest plants. By the way, sarcasm is getting OLD!

    October 4th, 2007 at 22:19 | #34

    Did you know that some cats like the taste of car antifreeze? it is much more common to see a leaky car than some person who bought an ugly plant.

    Cat will die almost instantly on going under a car and drinking leaked antifreeze. sorry to bother you southerners who dont need antifreeze :)

  35. ES
    October 4th, 2007 at 22:41 | #35

    1) There’s a ton of common plants (Azaleas, Tulips, daffodils, etc…) poisonous to dogs.
    2) I have one at home in a pot and have two dogs that don’t touch it. The leaves are pretty spiky, and they couldn’t get anywhere near the base to get a bite at it, without getting an eye poked out.

  36. tony
    October 4th, 2007 at 22:43 | #36

    2) My dog was playing with a pit bull all day and they were having a ball being wild puppies. I think the plant was dragged into the yard when they were bored with biting each other and the toys we had out for them.

  37. Bob
    October 4th, 2007 at 22:49 | #37

    Chocolate and mac nuts are also DEADLY to dogs.

    Ban chocolate and mac nut ice cream. Save us and our dogs from ourselves!

  38. Jason
    October 4th, 2007 at 23:03 | #38

    I swear this one the same type of plant IKEA was selling a couple of weeks ago.

  39. Pablo
    October 4th, 2007 at 23:42 | #39

    I swear I have seen this plant for sale at Home Depot.

  40. October 4th, 2007 at 23:51 | #40

    Erin: that’s a great idea to ban these plants. I’ve written to my local congresswoman and to my senator to get the ball rolling. I’ll be starting a letter-writing campaign to the national retail chains too. Let me know if any of you want to join.

    We should keep any eye out for these types of things and work to ban them as soon as possible to keep our kids and pets safe.

  41. tico
    October 5th, 2007 at 00:01 | #41

    Raw meat will not make you sick. I love beef carpaccio. However, rhubarb leaves will kill you if eaten. Lots of things will kill you if prepared improperly. Stick to what you know, and then have sago palm for dessert.

  42. October 5th, 2007 at 00:30 | #42

    Sorry to hear about your dog. But while we are partake in the consumerist witchhunt of the week, can we consider banning boycotts?

  43. Wil
    October 5th, 2007 at 01:11 | #43

    I have one of these in my front yard. They’re beautiful plants. This really shouldn’t be that big of a problem.

  44. garn
    October 5th, 2007 at 01:18 | #44

    Man if your kids are eating your plants you have other problems!

  45. Concerned dog owner
    October 5th, 2007 at 07:53 | #45

    So what you’re saying is, this would be a good way to train my dog to stop eating plants? Great, I’ll pick one up today!

  46. October 5th, 2007 at 07:53 | #46

    Cripes, I will not let me dog at that plant!

  47. Jimmy Bob
    October 5th, 2007 at 09:25 | #47

    I like peanuts

  48. Ruslander
    October 5th, 2007 at 09:50 | #48


    Sarcasm NEVER gets old. Sarcasm is the new black.

  49. Jeff Goldbume
    October 5th, 2007 at 11:55 | #49

    Now that we’re getting rid of cigarettes, guns, fat, SUVs, cell phones, etc. deadly plants make a lot of sense. But I say, we get rid of cars first, they kill more people and children (want to appeal to the “what about the children” crowd) than almost any other thing in the world. Also, H2O is extremely deadly to humans when it is improperly mixed with many other easily obtainable substances. It can turn into toxic acids and burn your skin. Germs and bacteria all thrive in water and many people drink this polluted water and die from waterborne diseases and being poisoned. Every year, millions of defenseless children you drown in it in what must be a horrible death. When H2O is mixed with sodium, it can cause massive explosions and the list is too long to write here. So please, help me write letters to support banning the chemical H20 now before anymore children die needlessly!

  50. Willycee
    October 5th, 2007 at 14:07 | #50

    Well,… I guess you know now Erin that a boycott is not going to happen, but anyone that doesn’t understand the purpose of a warning label to enable a parent, or pet owner to make an informed decision, probably doesn’t have children or pets, and will probably continue to be rude, because their parents were unsuccessful at teaching them otherwise.

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