Are Sago Palm Seed Pods Toxic to Dogs?

by Victoria Lee Blackstone
    When choosing plants for your garden or home, check for potential toxicity.

    When choosing plants for your garden or home, check for potential toxicity.

    Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

    Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) are tropical plants that serve in landscapes and as houseplants. Despite their name, sago palms are not palm trees at all. They are similar to conifer and ginkgo trees. Sago palms contain cycasin, a chemical compound highly toxic to dogs. While all parts of the sago palm are toxic, the seed pods, or nuts, are the most toxic part of the plant.

    What Happens After Ingestion

    If your dog decides to chew on a sago palm plant or munch on a seed pod, symptoms may begin as soon as 15 minutes afterward. Initial symptoms include drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms are followed by weakness, seizures and tremors; severe liver failure may occur within 48 to 72 hours. Symptoms of liver failure include lethargy, fluid buildup in the abdomen, abdominal pain, jaundice and black tarlike stool. The prognosis for a dog after sago palm ingestion is poor, with only 50 percent of sufferers surviving after aggressive treatment.

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    About the Author

    Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist who propagates heirloom and native plants for her nursery. She has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, plant care sheets and magazine and newspaper articles. Blackstone studied botany and microbiology at Clemson University and is a former University of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.

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