Also known as Japanese cycad, cardboard palms, and coontie palms, sago palm plants serve as indoor décor throughout the United States. Despite the pretty outlook, the plant isn’t considered safe for animals. While it thrives in warmer regions of the country, it’s a popular home décor item in original and artificial forms.
If you’re a pet owner wondering, “Is sago palm toxic to cats?” you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about sago palm poisoning.
Is Sago Palm Toxic to Cats?
Unfortunately, yes, it is. Not only is it toxic to your cats but also to dogs nearby. Pet owners should always be wary of the potted plants they buy since many of them can carry health hazards for both animals.
When it comes to sago palms, it’s safe to conclude that the entire plant is poisonous. However, nuts or seeds are known to be the most toxic. It is also a part that most animals can easily bite on, leading to hazardous health consequences.
Where Are Sago Palms Found?
The unfortunate truth is that sago palms are found almost everywhere in the United States. They aren’t just sold as outdoor plants but also as indoor plants.
Stay wary of what you receive as a gift because, in the Bonsai form, these plants are commonly exchanged as gifts. Even though they grow well in warmer conditions, their sale isn’t limited to warmer regions only.
You can easily find them in home accessory stores or garden centers, regardless of your state. Look out for the plants in your garden because there’s a good chance you’ll find sago palms since they’re a common component of landscaping.
Traveling to warmer regions with your pet can also expose them to the plant since they’re found almost everywhere. It’s also important to avoid purchasing certain jewelry items because the plant is usually incorporated into their making.
Signs of Sago Palm Poisoning
If you’re concerned that your cat has ingested the plant, look for the following symptoms.
- Gastrointestinal upset
In severe cases, the poisoning may also lead to liver damage and issues in the nervous system. Even if your cat has taken a small bite, the chances are that toxic compounds have been released into its body.
In most cases, the signs should appear within fifteen minutes of ingestion. However, in some cases, it can even take hours for the symptoms to become noticeable.
If you notice significant changes in your pet’s eating habits, it’s wise to keep an eye on them. Most animals are prone to a decreased appetite due to any poisoning. If you notice it avoiding food or choking on it, look for any signs of the plant’s remains.
Even though the signs seem minor, it doesn’t take long for them to turn serious. This is especially true if you leave them untreated. While liver failure isn’t common, neurologic signs certainly are.
Some include sudden and extreme weakness, seizures or tremors, and a wobbly gait. However, it’s equally vital that you keep a close eye on the symptoms of the former.
If your cat’s liver has undergone any damage, you may want to keep an eye on its urine color. Dark urine and frequent urination are some of the most common signs of liver damage among most animals. You may also want to check signs of yellowness in their eyes, discolored feces, and an abnormally enlarged abdomen.
Liver failure is the biggest health hazard to emerge from sago palm poisoning. It can result in external bleeding and can also cause blood glucose levels to go down immensely. As a result, sudden shock and blood loss can also cause death.
Diagnosis of Sago Palm Poisoning
If the symptoms are apparent, your veterinarian can easily diagnose it as a case of sago palm poisoning. However, if they aren’t, you may need to carry proof of ingestion with you.
In the absence of both, it’s hard to determine whether poisoning has occurred at all. Not all animals show signs of poisoning immediately, and symptoms don’t always become apparent in time.
However, if you insist, the veterinarian may run urine and blood tests to see signs of liver damage and draw a conclusion. All in all, diagnosing sago palm poisoning is easy, and the earlier it’s detected, the better.
What Can You Do If Your Cat Eats a Sago Palm Plant?
If your cat has ingested a huge chunk of the plant, the chances are that it will need immediate hospital care. This is because most pets severely poisoned by the plant cannot make it.
Even if your cat has only ingested a small part of it, immediately take it to an emergency facility. Take note of how much plant your cat has ingested and when it may have consumed it. The details will be crucial in determining the medication dosage and the overall prognosis.
Can Sago Palm Poisoning Be Treated?
In a nutshell, yes. Sago palm poisoning is treatable and doesn’t always get fatal. Early detection plays a crucial role in determining the success rate of treatment. In several cases, the death rate can go up to 50%.
Every year, the APCC (Animal Poison Control Center) receives numerous calls about pets that require immediate medical attention due to sago palm poisoning. Throughout the United States, a massive spike has been witnessed in these cases.
While a professional can treat the condition, you do not want to delay it too long. However, the outcome does not solely depend on early detection.
Your pet’s overall health and the amount they’ve ingested are factors that come into play. The earlier they get treated, the better the chances of preventing the emergence of long-term complications.
If your cat is severely affected, it may undergo permanent liver damage. The success rate of treatment can significantly drop in that case.
How Is Sago Palm Poisoning Treated?
We must dig a little deeper since we know now that early treatment is the key to avoiding complications. In many cases, veterinarians induce vomiting immediately after the cat has ingested the plant.
However, doing the same at home is not recommended since the attempt can cause more harm than good. Once the veterinarian has successfully controlled the vomiting, they may administer activated charcoal.
Activated charcoal can do wonders in preventing the gastrointestinal tract from absorbing any more of the toxins. Again, you should not attempt this at home because reckless administration can cause sodium levels to rise.
Furthermore, your veterinarian may use gastrointestinal and anti-nausea medications. In most cases, hospitalization is needed since fluids need to be administered frequently. The veterinarian may also give additional medications such as Vitamin C and liver protectants to boost your cat’s health.
Intensive therapy only becomes mandatory if liver damage occurs since there’s an elevated risk of bleeding. Pets who undergo this type of damage may have to endure the effects for a long time. In severe cases, they may even die.
In case of bleeding, your veterinarian may recommend a blood transfusion. Keeping the blood glucose levels stable is also necessary. Hence, your cat may need plasma transfusions and Vitamin K1 in their fluids.
How to Prevent Sago Palm Poisoning
Now that you’re aware of all the dangers associated with it, you might want to avoid the risk once and for all. Sago palm plants certainly make an exquisite addition to your home décor.
However, they aren’t worth keeping if you have a cat around. Cats can easily jump high, so placing a plant high won’t do it.
Nonetheless, if you can’t help the plant buff inside you, make sure to keep your sago palm plant at a safe distance from your pet. Even a bit of ingestion can lead to severe consequences since your cat’s body is too delicate to undergo extreme symptoms.
If it doesn’t die from the symptoms, it may just die fighting them. Your best bet is to avoid placing a sago palm plant inside your house completely.
Furthermore, you do not want to attempt to treat your pet at home under any circumstances. Lack of knowledge and professional supervision can kill your cat faster than the poisoning itself.
So, is sago palm toxic to cats? It certainly is. Every part of the plant is toxic and can threaten your cat’s life, even if ingested in small quantities.
Cats are typically quite responsive to this type of poisoning and may begin displaying symptoms immediately. Whether you’re sure or unsure about the ingestion, it’s recommended that you seek a veterinarian’s help immediately after you notice the symptoms.
Despite being one of the most sought-after outdoor and indoor plants in the United States, Sago palm plants aren’t the friendliest to a pet’s health. It doesn’t matter what you own. Whether it is a cat or a dog, eating the plant can turn out to be fatal. Hence, you want to keep them away from it at all costs.
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.