The Pet Poison Helpline classifies the Sago Palm as severely toxic to dogs, causing symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, unusual accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, loss of appetite, jaundice, and black tarry stools.
While all parts of the Sago Palm are considered poisonous, the seeds are the most toxic.
Sago palm contains cycasin, which is the primary active toxic agent resulting in severe liver failure in dogs. Ingestion results in acute gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, inappetance, vomiting, diarrhea) within 15 minutes to several hours after ingestion. Central nervous system signs (e.g., weakness, ataxia, seizures, tremors, etc.) and severe liver failure can be seen within 2-3 days post-ingestion.
Since many dog owners are unaware of the dangers of these plants, people have been known to take the long seed pods produced later in the year and use them as fetch toys for their dogs!
If your dog has ingested, or even licked or chewed on, any portion of a Sago Palm – especially this time of year, when the palms are producing new growth – call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-800-213-6680 immediately. Aggressive treatment will be required to save your dog’s life. Still, even with immediate treatment, only about 50% of cases of dogs poisoned by Sago Palm will survive.
News Channel 2 in Charleston recently told the story of a local man whose dog ingested the deadly palm:
If you have a Sago Palm in your yard, make sure your dog cannot access the plant, or remove it completely. Advise neighbors and friends with dogs or cats to do the same.