Pets are like family members you care for in the best ways possible. Animals, unlike humans, cannot tell if they are going through any health problems because they cannot speak. Therefore, you must be watchful of any changes that may indicate the presence of ailments and proffer solutions before it becomes too late.
Pets can consume anything from their surrounding without their human parents knowing, which puts their lives in danger. So, it’s crucial to ensure they do not come into contact with poisonous foods or objects.
One such typical example is sago plants. People usually decorate sago plants, and their pets may accidentally consume them.
Many people are unaware of the sago palm leaves of their pets. Dogs are especially susceptible to the poison found in these leaves, and even a small amount can be fatal. This article will discuss the poisonous nature of sago palm leaves and what pet owners can do to protect their dogs from this deadly plant.
What Are Sago Plants?
Sago plants are one of the most unique and interesting-looking plants you will ever see. These tropical plant species come from the cycad family, a group of cone-bearing seed plants considered some of the world’s oldest flowering plants.
Sago’s palms are known for their stunningly beautiful foliage, which features fern-like leaves in various shades of green, while older specimens have a more robust look with deeply furrowed trunks and rough bark.
The sago palm is an excellent food source for humans (the starch in its roots can be processed for flour) and animals (it can also provide shade).
There are wide varieties of sago palms that grow worldwide, but the main genus is Cycas. Some of the most popular and notable varieties include Cycas revoluta, C. pectinate, and C. rumphii.
Sago palms can grow anywhere from a few feet tall to over 100 feet tall, depending on their cultivar. Because they are slow-growing plants, they will take many years to reach full maturity.
Pet Helplines receive hundreds of calls each year from concerned pet owners regarding their animals ingesting sago palm-related plants. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that these seemingly innocuous potted plants can be deadly to cats and dogs.
Uses of Sago Plants
Sago’s palms are used for many different purposes, from providing food and shelter to humans and animals to beautifying gardens and landscapes. They have been used in traditional medicine because of their natural healing properties.
Contains Antioxidants: Sago’s palms contain many antioxidants, which help to reduce the negative effects of free radicals in the body. These antioxidizing properties can help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases and slow the aging process.
Good Source of Resistant Starch: Sago plants contain a significant amount of resistant starch, an indigestible form of carbohydrate that soaks up water and gas in the digestive tract. This results in improved digestion, elimination of toxins and waste, and reduced inflammation.
Boosts Energy: The natural nutrients found in sago palm can help to provide the body with much-needed energy to go about daily activities. Improved metabolism also helps boost overall energy levels as well.
Supports Healthy Bones: Sago’s palms are loaded with minerals like calcium and magnesium, which support strong bones and teeth. They also have many antioxidants that protect against age-related bone deterioration.
Ornamental Value: Sago plants are commonly cultivated as ornamental plants due to their unique appearance, making them a popular choice among gardeners and landscapers. Plus, they are very easy to care for, require very little maintenance, and come in a variety of different sizes.
Please note that all these uses are only effective when sago plants and their extracts are processed and handled properly. Sago plants contain toxins and should not be consumed in their raw form by humans or animals.
The Toxicity of Sago Plants
The Sago Plants look very appealing to pets, with their lush green leaves and interesting texture, but they can be very dangerous. All parts of the plant are toxic to animals, but the seeds (nuts) contain the highest concentration of toxins.
Sago palms are highly toxic to cats and dogs and can cause dangerous symptoms when ingested. Just one seed from the plant is enough to kill a dog! This is because the leaves of sago palms contain an incredibly powerful toxin called cycasin, which attacks the liver and causes severe damage.
The alkaloid-like substances found in sago palm leaves are also known to disrupt blood clotting and make cells increasingly susceptible to DNA mutations.
Dogs who eat these plants may experience lethargy or weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, bruising/bleeding that occurs without injury or even death if they ingest a sufficient amount of sago palm leaves. Cats are even more sensitive than dogs to this deadly toxin.
Cycasin, a glucoside that can cause liver failure and death in dogs, is associated with all parts of sago plants, but the main source is their seeds. When ingested, cycasin is broken down into two poisonous substances: Methylazoxymethanol (MAM) and methyl azoxy methanol-beta-D-glucoside (MAM-B).
These substances damage the liver cells and cause them to die. The plant, on the other hand, contains a significant amount of toxins found in its leaves, and it is highly toxic to pets.
Another fatal poison is present in sago plants known as Betamethylamino L-alanine or BMAA. Research has found that this substance can cross over into the nervous system through the blood-brain barrier.
Due to these unique properties, it is potentially toxic and has been linked to a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Symptoms of Sago Plants Poisoning
There are many different symptoms associated with sago plant poisoning, and they can range from mild to severe. Some of the most common symptoms include stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
Neurological signs, like weakness and tremors; liver damage that might not happen for 1-3 days; also, dogs with liver damage may have an enlarged abdomen and dark urine; They may drink and urinate more often or have discolored feces. Their eyes or skin might be yellow too.
If left untreated, liver failure can lead to a number of life-threatening complications, such as low blood sugar levels, decreased ability to clot blood, and internal or external bleeding. The dog may die from blood loss or shock if these signs are not immediately recognized and treated.
Diagnosis of Sago Plant Poisoning
As we already discussed, our pets cannot just come and explain their symptoms. The owners must keep a lookout for any changes in their behavior or appetite. If you think that your beloved pet has ingested sago plants, please do not hesitate to take them to the vet immediately.
The diagnosis of sago plant poisoning can be tricky as the symptoms are very similar to those of other liver diseases. A complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis may be performed to check for anemia, dehydration, and abnormal liver enzymes. An abdomen ultrasound may also help check for liver damage.
Treatment of Sago Plants Poisoning
There is no specific antidote for sago plant poisoning, so treatment focuses on managing the symptoms and supporting the dog’s vital organs. Dogs may be treated with aggressive IV fluids and other supportive care if caught early enough. The vets, however, follow the symptomatic treatment approach to treat the poisoning.
Early treatment and decontamination lessen the likelihood of unfavorable outcomes. If plant ingestion occurs immediately after therapy, the veterinarian may induce vomiting. Never try to make someone throw up at home without first contacting a veterinarian.
As a result, the stomach could get very inflamed. Once the vomiting has been under control, activated charcoal can be administered. This might reduce how quickly the digestive system absorbs the poisons.
Activated charcoal should only be obtained through a veterinarian. Without it, lung aspiration and salt level changes that could be fatal could occur.
Antacids, anti-nausea medications, and gastrointestinal protectants are often recommended medications. Hospital care is frequently required. Fluids can be administered subcutaneously or intravenously.
A drug called N-acetylcysteine can reduce the risk of liver damage. Additionally, vitamin C and other medications like liver protectors may be given.
Prognosis of Poisoning
If caught early, your dog will rarely have any long-term effects, but if the poison has had time to do serious damage, your dog may be left with liver disease or failure.
Recovery from Sago Plant Poisoning
According to the Pet Poison Helpline, 50% of dogs survive sago palm poisoning with aggressive treatment. While this is a severe condition, emergency care can save your pet’s life.
After being treated, a veterinarian may monitor dogs overnight or for several days. Additional tests will likely be performed to determine if any permanent damage has occurred. Additional visits may be needed during the early stages of recovery.
Prevention of Sago Plants Poisoning
The best way to prevent sago plant poisoning is to keep your dog away from these plants at all costs. If you have sago palms in your yard, ensure they are entirely fenced off so your dog cannot get to them.
You should also avoid bringing sago palms or other plants containing cycasin into your home. Call your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your dog has ingested sago plants. The sooner treatment is started, the better the chances of a successful outcome.
Our pets are part of our family, and we want to do everything we can to keep them safe and healthy. Sago plants are very dangerous to dogs, and if ingested, they can cause severe liver damage or even death.
Please call your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog has ingested sago plants. With early treatment, many dogs make a full recovery. Prevention is the best medicine, so ensure your dog cannot get to these plants if you have them in your yard.
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.