Are Orange Palm Tree Berries Poisonous to Dogs?

Are the berries found on some palm trees dangerous for dogs?
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Dogs are non-discriminating when it comes to what they eat, and if you live in a region with palm trees, you may have seen your pet sniffing around those bulbous orange berries that often litter the ground. Make sure that your dog doesn't turn these berries into his afternoon snack, as the most common variety can upset his stomach, while another similar type of palm tree berry can be fatal.

Sago Palm

The sago palm is a popular ornamental plant that many people all over the U.S. use for landscaping and indoor decorating, but both their leaves and berries are poisonous to dogs. They contain a potent toxin called cycasin which can cause vomiting, blood in stool, dehydration, bruising of the skin, lack of coordination, liver failure and death for dogs. Even eating one seed is dangerous, and if your dog is displaying the above symptoms you should take them to a vet immediately.

Areca, or Betel Nut Palm

The betel nut palm produces those orange berries you may have seen if you live in a tropical or temperate climate. The good news is that the berries of this type of palm tree are not considered toxic, but they can still make dogs sick if eaten in large quantities. The berries have also been shown to cause oral decay and act as a mild sedative or stimulant when chewed by humans, so they are likely to have some of the same effects with dogs.

How to Handle Unknown Plants

If there is ever a situation when your dog is around a plant that you’re unfamiliar with, do not let him eat it -- it’s always better to be safe than sorry. If you’re worried that your dog ate something unfamiliar when you weren’t watching, carefully monitor his behavior over the next few hours to see if he's exhibiting any symptoms of poisoning. Call a vet as soon as you see something that worries you, as untreated symptoms may grow worse.

What a Vet Can Do

A vet will try to delay the additional absorption of toxins into your dog’s body and, if the poisoning has been reported within the first few hours, may induce vomiting. Activated charcoal can also help slow the absorption of toxins. A vet may also use oxygen therapy, antinausea medication, pain medication, blood or plasma transfusions and sedatives, depending on the severity of the case. Again, it is always best to contact a vet as soon as possible to get the best treatment for your pet.