In my hometown, San Antonio, Texas, sago palms are a frequent plant in the landscape. In fact, my neighbor has a huge one at the entry way to their front door. Because they can grow rather large here, I considered buying one and putting in a large clay pot for my patio. Now I am having second thoughts about this altogether after learning about a puppy who chewed on a sago palm and died.
Early last month, according to the ASPCA, the Woytek family discovered Amber, their lab mix, had eaten parts of a sago palm plant. Unbeknowst to even me, the sago palm is highly toxic to both cats and dogs.
Immediately ill, Amber suffered seizures, jaundice, and liver failure. The family had to make the tragic decision to euthanize their dog. Sadly, Amber’s story is more common than one might think. I let my neighbor know because she has two little dogs.
Since 2003, the ASPCA has seen an increase by more than 200 percent of sago palm and cycad poisonings, and 50 to 75 percent of those ingestions resulted in fatalities. According to Dr. Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, veterinary toxicologist and vice president of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, all parts of the plant are toxic, not just the seeds or nuts, and common signs of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, seizures and liver failure.
Before you put plants in the house or landscape, check to make sure the plants are safe around pets.