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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. Vince
    May 14th, 2009 at 22:58 | #1
  2. Vince
    May 15th, 2009 at 19:21 | #2
  3. Eva
    May 16th, 2009 at 17:28 | #3

    Thank you to Lola’s mom, I needed to read something heart warming after the last 2 days I have had. I was given four of them a week ago and my 4 year old mini pin named Gunner ate one thur night. I had no idea what it could do to dogs, but now as we speak he is a the vet fighting for his life. I took him in 24 hours after eatting it and he isn’t doing good. I will not give up on him, but how did ya’ll know when to put them down? I feel so lost and alone and not to sure on what to expect.

  4. joe
    May 17th, 2009 at 18:13 | #4

    Hrrmm… my dog just died eating one of these. We have one in the yard. Found her in the yard outside, 3 hours later she was bleeding out of her orifices, white gums, and we had to put her down. I have never heard of one until the vet told me what it was. Then I just googled and found this site. They are all over the neighborhoods here in FL with lots of dogs. Dog was 3 years old and a boxer so this has to be super toxic and not just killing small dogs. , r.i.p.

  5. Grace
    May 18th, 2009 at 19:54 | #5

    I should have read this earlier.

    My dog just recently died a most painful death from gnawing on the roots of my sago plant. She was in a horrible condition: panting, vomiting, and convulsing. So we took her to the vet and he said that there was more than 33% of dogs that have died from the sago plant poison. Well, seems that my dog was one of the 33%.

  6. Bill Wood
    May 19th, 2009 at 22:25 | #6

    Sago palms grow in a larger perspective. Millions of gardeners would take unkindly to the thought of a ban on azaleas, oleanders and other toxic ornamentals – the list is very, very long. A more realistic fear is the proposition I believe is implicit in some comments – we start mandatory labeling for plants toxic to dogs and other animals. By mandatory I mean legally required. How about people? If we do this for dogs the answer seems obvious for people. Consumer protection in an area characterized as a health risk is a subject very susceptible to government involvement (except for liquor, guns, – and cigarettes and autos to a leser degree). So the implications of a mandatory, not voluntary,label for Sago palms can be disasterous. First the palm, then the azalea, then the apricot, oleander, iris, larkspur, wisteria,jasmine,daffodil, mistletoe, red oak,iris, maple, buttercups, rye grass, tomato and so on. Begin with the label, then the increasingly constricting regulations (and expenses) down the road, then a ban on this plant here, and so forth.

  7. May 25th, 2009 at 14:44 | #7

    I find some of these stories hard to believe. They are very dramatic, but sagos have been around for centuries and in my 30+ years of gardening, I NEVER heard about this before.

    The edible part of the sago is its Starchy root ONLY. There are many plants that are only partly toxic — depends on the part that is ingested.

    My suggestion is this: if you have a dog — be careful what you grow. DO the research!!!

    Don’t buy “off the shelf”. PLAN your garden, taking into account children and dogs… DO the research. Do the research. Do the RESEARCH. If you want to grow plants that may be dangerous — keep them inside a fenced area NOT
    accessible to dogs or kids.

    This is another example of the dangers that occur when people are not pro-active in their decision making. Don’t expect Lowe’s and Home Depot to do the thinking for you. Don’t expect anyone to do the thinking for you. To be safe, place a sign in your yard “DON’T TOUCH the PLANTS”…

  8. tony
    May 25th, 2009 at 16:54 | #8

    @r barrett:
    Who cares if the root is the only edible part? My dog ate it and nearly died.

    Ring up your local vet if you are so skeptical of the stories here. DO THE RESEARCH! Hahahhaaa

  9. susan
    May 27th, 2009 at 19:37 | #9

    My dog ate the root, too, and did eventually die – less than 24hrs later but not after first suffering the most horrific effects: extremely labored breathing, vomiting, eyes glazed and fixed, lockjaw, and thick black tar-like blood coming out her mouth and rectum. While it is always wise to do research, once informed, shouldn’t that research be shared – especially if it can save a life?

    I did do quite a bit of research after my dog died, and then contacted the person responsible for plant buying for the western U.S. for the retail chain where I purchased the sago palm. After reassuring him that I was not calling to threaten a lawsuit, nor was I looking for compensation for my significant vet bills, I suggested that he do the right thing and require his growers to label these plants as toxic. He politely thanked me for my call and, of course, a year later nothing has changed. This retailer still sells sago palms, with no warning label, and has removed my own little warning labels that I have placed on their sagos.

    While research is important, knowingly withholding research should be criminal. There is a petition at http://mo-driver.com/sago-palm-plants-kill.htm that seeks to ‘motivate’ the retailers to do the right thing – let their customers make informed decisions. PLEASE go to this website and sign this petition. Thanks.

  10. Gabe
    June 3rd, 2009 at 22:29 | #10

    I pulled two six foot sago palms out off the ground with a shovel wearing short sleeves. I was barbed and scratched throughout the process and have not experienced any adverse effects. The full grown palms were transplanted in a similar environment and are looking great.

  11. susan
    June 5th, 2009 at 21:08 | #11

    It seems that different people have different dermatological reactions to skin abrasions from Sago Palms, and you are fortunate that you are not one who is sensitive to the Sago’s toxins. I have personally spoke to two people in the past 5 days (one in California and the other in Arizona, where I live) who have serious skin reactions when they are scraped by sagos in their yards. Since you have, and handle, Sago Palms, you may want to visit a website that has a lot of interesting and concerning information regarding medical problems caused by Sagos in humans: http://www.itg.be/itg/distancelearning/lecturenotesvandenendene/47_Medical_problems_caused_by_plantsp12.htm. It might make you think twice about these plants, or at least be a little more cautious.

  12. Lola’s Mom, Meta
    June 23rd, 2009 at 19:48 | #12

    Respoonse to: Eva, Gunner’s mom,
    It has been over a year since I lost my little girl and I cry every time I go to this web site but I return for some reason. Thank you for the kind words, I am glad it lifted your spirit. I hope this posting finds you and Gunner well.
    After talking to my vet, he stated little could be done once the poison entered the cells. Unfortunately, it was over 48 hours before I took my little girl to the vet. The day prior, I noted something was wrong but I was not sure. I inspected her mouth and thought it was chipped tooth. When she started vomiting blood, I went straight to the vet’s emergency room. My angel was at the vet for less than 24 hours when the vet stated death was probable and little could be done. Honestly, I would have sold my soul or gave up a limb, if it would save my stinky-butt, red-nose, bent-ear pup. My body spasm with grief and I wanted her to live. Nonetheless, she was in really bad shape and great pain. In the distance past, I lost both my parents. My dad went quickly and my mom suffered for too many years. There is no doubt that my past experience influenced my choice for choose to let my girl go for I remembered my mom’s pain.
    Truth is I don’t think any human knows when the right time is to let go or if a “right” time exits. I choose to let Lola go less than 24 hours after going to the vet. Honestly, there will always be a part of me that regrets not giving her more time. But the other part of me, remembers lying on the ground and holding her before the doctor injected her. God, I wanted to lie next to her for a long time but I felt her suffering and called the vet to inject her almost immediately. Reflecting back, I am happy I did not prolong her fight but I will always wonder if I didn’t give her a chance. But Lola was a happy girl, who only felt love and I know she would not want me to be sad or blame myself or suffer. Therefore, I have chosen to be at peace with my decision for she would have wanted that way. I think it is normal to wonder or fantasy a different outcome in my case [or when people put their babies to sleep (shot that was hard to type)] but I believe that there is no universal solution or correct choice.
    Eve, whatever you chose or have chosen to do, I sure you did it with little Gunner best interest in mind. Moreover, I suspect you know Gunner better than anybody and you took your little guy to a the vet for professional assistance. What more can a parent do. Therefore, I feel that only you would know what the best choice is in such a challenging circumstances. From your posting, I can tell you love him very much and he is lucky to have such love. Please feel free to contact me at metacatalyst@aol.com, if you desire. Hopefully, I won’t hear from you for you are busy chasing after Gunner.

    Lola’s Mom, Meta

  13. julie
    June 24th, 2009 at 07:41 | #13

    watch out for peace lilies (spathofelia) and all types of lilies…have a himalayan cat that chewed on the leaves when he was 4 yrs old. my other two himies did also. the 4 year old went into accute kidney failure. iv at emergency vet for 8 days. they refused to treat him unless i promised to give him sub-q the rest of his life. i agreed. upon release from the clinic, had blood tests weekly, then every other week, then once per month. all tests for kidney functions came back within normal ranges. per my vet’s instructions, tapered his daily sub-q to every other day, gradually decreasing over a couple of months. he will be 9 this year, and touch wood, has not had sub-q in over 3 yrs. have “wellness” done on all three of my himmies and all 3 of my newfs every year for a base level to refer to should any abnormalites surface. now have NO houseplants, and very few outside plants accessible to the dogs…i would rather be safe than sorry! can’t imagine why they would want to eat a sago…they are sooo prickly!

  14. Jeramie Dreyfuss
    June 25th, 2009 at 11:24 | #14

    To Lola’s Mom, Meta. I lost the dog love of my life, Lola a few months ago and am in deep grief over her loss. She was a rescued pit bull and brought more love and companionship and laughter to my life than I have ever known. Just wanted you to know that our Lola’s may be together in a happier place. I read avocado pits are wildly poisonous also. My Lola got a brain infection from eating dead birds from salmonella. Clean your bird feeders and bird baths constantly. Use a 10% bleach/water to get rid of the salmonella. It is incredible the lack of education to those of us who feed birds that we have to pick up the mess on the ground and constantly clean up our feeders. Poop spreads the disease and our dogs and cats get it and bring it home to us. It causes lesions in the brain. I hope the writers dog gets well. Good luck.

  15. R.I.P Bruno
    June 25th, 2009 at 19:02 | #15

    i have recently had a bad experience with a palm tree also but it was not a sago palm

    i purchased three mexican fan palms sunday from a local Lowes at a really good price not really knowing anything about the plants, but i just wanted some shady trees for my pool(even though these are only 3 ft. tall and i was told they grow 5ft a year and they only grow 5in a year)

    but anyway i noticed monday morning when i went feed my husky puppy, that he was acting a little weird and didnt really want to eat anything, i also noticed that 2 of my palm trees and been tore up a little. one the leaves had been chewed on and the other the roots and the trunk and been chewed on, but i didnt really think anything about any of it on monday

    on tuesday he still didnt want to eat, but not only that but he wouldnt even get up and come to me, so i tried getting some lunch meat and see if something tastier than dry dog food would entice him, but still nothing.

    so i got online and read some of this and some other stuff on certain palms, later i called the vet and a local tree yard and they both said i needed to get the dog to the vet immediately, so i planned on going to an emergency vet after i got off work, but my inlaws called me and said that he was already dead by lunch that day

    so its not just sagos that are dangerous

  16. tim
    June 26th, 2009 at 08:12 | #16

    typical reactionary behavior. toxins are everywhere in our world. the toxin wihtin the seed of the sago palm is more than likely there to protect the furthering of the speciaes. banning a plant is an absurdity. why not ban the over-use immunizations we are poisoning our children with? or perhaps all forms of milk chocolate and hard candy due to the raw sugar? take responsibility for your pets and children. educate yourself and stop with the overreaction please!

  17. Jim
    June 30th, 2009 at 09:15 | #17

    Wow! Glanced at the responses to the concern expressed by a person, which by the way, are now being reported by veternarians across the country. Always interesting to see what true American Rednecks have to say regarding such matters…dogs and children are fearless and yes they can learn and be taught to avoid those things that create a threat to them, but in the meantime why take a chance, remove the damned poisonous plants!

  18. Vicki
    July 2nd, 2009 at 12:45 | #18


  19. Jen
    July 7th, 2009 at 08:26 | #19

    I just lost my 7 year old poodle. We planted a sago palm in our back yard, I had no ideal it would kill my dog. She was my baby. I can’t beleive anyone could be so heartless to say things said here on this site. I think a warning label would have been helpful! And for those of you that open your mouth without using your heart first, are the one that have the problem!

    July 13th, 2009 at 15:00 | #20

    I will be extra careful with this beautiful plant. Luckily my dog does not eat or chew on plants, but i will watch her and my grandson also. Thanks for the heads up.

  21. Marc
    July 16th, 2009 at 02:40 | #21

    Both of my dogs got ahold of a Sago and distroyed it!!! They both lived! I read all of these horrific stories on the internet and figured my dogs were both not going to survive it was heart breaking!!! My mut dog (boxer/pit mix) threw up a few times and was back to normal in about a day or so…my purebread dog (german shorthaired pointer) which ate the bulk of the palm, well he was a different story! We rushed both dogs to the Pet ER and they wanted $5k to examine them both and that wasn’t going to fully cure them. I didn’t have the money at the time, so I pulled both dogs out and drove them home.

    The GSP threw up for about 2 then had no energy to do anything, he didn’t eat anything for a week! I started that next morning giving him pedialite (same childs stuff) he didn’t like anthing but the plain no flavor stuff..he drank that every so often.

    Then I went to the store and bout some Dannon immunity yogurt and FORCE fed him that for a solid week. within serveral days went from 6olbs to 40lbs with in a week!

    I would pick hm up and take him outside to try and get him motivated…it worked for a few minutes then he would just plop down and look miserable! I honestly though every morning when I woke up he was going to gone..sad feeling! After about 10 days and after the yogurt was gone… he started getting energy and after a few weeks he was moving around more and more. He wasn’t back to normal until a mont and a half.

    This led to more and more problems with this dog! his organs were not funtioning the right way and he bloated up like a goat… we put him on a diaretic pill and he slowly got back to a normal size…..the came the mange mites!!! after a month of pills it was gone.

    We are going on a YEAR with out problems with him! Both dogs are perfetly healthy!

    So before you panic… calm down and try these few steps I listed above….

  22. Denisejt
    July 26th, 2009 at 22:31 | #22

    Geesh I just found this blog and was looking for anything I needed to know about planting Sago Palms….and I just got two lovely ones from Home Depot. Tons of growing things are deadly, so put a warning on them, or buy them and use some stay-away type product to keep animals from eating them. If your kids are eating them, you aren’t watching your kids closely enough..or the sitter isn’t awaare of what they’re doing…hmm…

  23. Tim
    July 29th, 2009 at 00:01 | #23

    Looking to landscape a new home I’m buying, 1st ever and thought these plants looked good. Have no kids or dogs but would be crushed if I was responsible for another’s demise if it happened because I put this plant in my yard. I appreciate the info. and will look at alternatives. The home’s HOA has this on their recommended list but should possibly be on the banned list. Thanks for EVERYBODY’S input. Thank God Free speech is one of the few things still allowed in this country!

  24. Ana
    August 3rd, 2009 at 01:57 | #24

    Wow! Now I’m worried. After readding all the horror stories on this site, I’m taking my husband to the doctor tomorrow. My husband was building a fence and got pricked by a sago palm under his right arm. He developed a horrible rash that is still there after 2 weeks. He is complaining about his joints hurting him and hasn’t really had a good appitite lately. I noticed that tonight the rash (looks like a bright red blush) has now spread all over his back. The fact that it will also harm internal organs has me worried also. I will update this site after we find out where my husband is with this unfortunate sago palm incident.

  25. Frenando
    August 15th, 2009 at 22:03 | #25

    Ana, Sounds like trouble but, did he eat it after it pricked him? I’m pretty sure you need to ingest it for the toxins to develope in your system.

  26. Carla
    August 19th, 2009 at 11:48 | #26

    We just rushed our dog to the vet and the first thing the vet asked was if we had Sago Palms. We have many of them but never knew they were poisionous to animals. After 2 days in a vet speciality hospital she had ingest too much of it and we had to have her put down.

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