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Also called coontie palms, cardboard palms, cycades or zymias, Sago Palms are readily available in small nurseries or in the garden sections of large home improvement stores. Unfortunately, pet owners may not realize that the potted plant they buy today may kill their cat or dog tomorrow.
All parts of the Sago Palm are poisonous, but the seeds (nuts) are the most toxic to pets and are easier for them to eat than the prickly fronds. The Sago Palm toxin, called cycasin, attacks the liver causing a broad range of symptoms. The degree of liver failure determines the severity of the symptoms.
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Sago palms are naturally found in tropical/subtropical environments; they are also used as ornamental Bonsai houseplants. These palms are members of the Order Cycadacae; genera Cycads, Macrozamia, and Zamias. Examples of the cycad family include Cycad (Cycas cirinalis), Japanese cycad (Cycad revolute), Coontie plant (Zamia pumila), and Cardbord palm (Zamia furfuracea). All parts of sago palm are considered poisonous, with the seeds (nuts) being the most toxic part of the plant. 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. Clinical signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, inappetance, abnormal fluid accumulation in the abdomen, abdominal pain, jaundice, and black-tarry stool. Aggressive decontamination and treatment should be initiated. Even with aggressive treatment, the survival is about 50%.Palm Glen Animal Hospital in Phoenix, AZ is a small animal and exotic pet hospital offering not only for your cat and dog, but we are the only clinic in the Valley offering CLAW WELLNESS PLANS for your pet birds, rabbits, ferrets, and guinea pigs. We offer day care, , , ultrasound testing, pet and services for dogs, cats, and exotic pets. The primary purpose of Palm Glen Animal Hospital is to provide the highest quality veterinary medical and pet surgical care to our patients, and offer the best possible service to our clients. A staff of experienced veterinary doctors and expert vet technicians, look forward to working with you to provide your pet(s) with a long life of health and wellness.If you suspect your dog or cat ate sago palm, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment recommendations.Like Leeloo’s family, many people are unaware that the plant is deadly. And even if they have heard of the toxic effects, they don’t realize that the plant they are purchasing is actually a sago palm! Why is this? The plants are becoming increasingly popular in all areas of the country, and are often sold as unmarked potted plants in stores such as Target and Home Depot. They are simply labeled as a “palm tree,” without any warning label, and people are not aware that they are bringing home a potentially lethal plant. Over the past five years, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has seen an increase in sago palm toxicities by 200 percent, and according to their data, 50 to 75 percent of cases result in the death of the pet. This number includes pets that are euthanized due to the cost of care; on a slightly brighter note, 68 percent of those pets that are treated early are reported to survive.