Sago Palms Are Poisonous To Animals

After seeing so many poisonous plants for sale at the local home improvement store, I decided to start a new category dealing with poisonous plants.  The number of poisonous plants used in landscaping and as indoor plants is absolutely staggering.  Before you bring any plant into your house, check to see if it is safe for pets and small children. 

Sago palms, also called cycad palms are very poisonous.  The seeds, fruit and base are loaded with cycasin, a toxin that causes liver failure.  Ingestion of just one seed may cause death in a dog.  Vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, depression and neurologic signs develop within a few hours of ingestion.  Abnormalities in the blood work lag behind clinical signs by about 24 hours making it hard to diagnose.  Death occurs within hours to days depending upon the amount of poison ingested.   

In a study of 60 dogs with sago palm toxicosis, 95% of them developed liver failure and gastrointestinal problems.  Neurologic signs including posterior paresis, depression, problems with coordination called ataxia and seizures occurred in 50% of the animals studied.  Unfortunately, once clinical signs occur, one third of dogs will die. 

If your pet has been exposed to a sago palm, bring them to your veterinarian for immediate decontamination.  Do not take a wait and see approach with this poison.  If you have these plants in your yard or house, I must suggest you remove them immediately to prevent an accidental poisoning.  The following pictures will help you identify this plant.


Albretson, JC, et al, "Cycad palm toxicosis in dogs - 60 cases (1982-1997)", JAVMA 1998 Vol 213 (1) pp. 99-101.   

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  • 4/3/2010 5:24 PM Robyn wrote:
    Can't wait to see more of these entries on toxic plants! It can be hard to find reliable information on this subject.
    Reply to this
  • 4/5/2010 10:49 AM Elena wrote:
    I love these and have them in my garden, but it never occurred to me to check if they were poisonous plants!

    These are sold at almost every garden center and are pretty popular here in Texas... Quite a few of my friends that have dogs or cats and have a garden - they also grow these plants... But I am almost positive none of them realize these palms are toxic.
    I had to chase my own cats away from these plants a few times because they kept trying to chew on the leaves..

    Thank you for posting - quite useful information!
    Reply to this
  • 5/29/2010 7:09 AM Simon wrote:
    We have a 7 mo old Belgian Malinois, who almost died last weekend from after eating the base/heart of a Sago palm. The plant had been in our yard for over 10 yrs, but this spring we pruned the frozen leaves. Our new pup ate the new leaves at the top and then the heart. When he started vomiting and we found pieces of the plant we took him to the emergency vet. After 2 days in the animal hospital he is doing well, and after a week back to his old spunky self. We had no idea this plant was so toxic! Needless to say that we removed it and are informing our neighbors about the risk.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/29/2010 8:37 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am so glad your dog survived his ordeal.  Thanks for informing your neighbors and hopefully, preventing another toxicity.  I wish these plants came with warning labels!
      Reply to this
  • 7/28/2010 12:15 AM dating london wrote:
    Can't wait to see more of these entries on toxic plants! It can be hard to find reliable information on this subject.
    Reply to this
  • 3/8/2011 7:00 PM Mo wrote:
    Recently 2 of our 3 Boston terriers died of poisoning but we thought it was antifreeze. We have a tiny sago palm that died following a freeze in our area of Texas and I pulled off the dead/yellow leaves and tossed them in the yard. Do the dead leaves still carry the toxin? The first one who died was found unconscious and could not be revived. The 2nd one was convulsing and had a locked jaw, the 3rd one we were able to save, she had leg paralysis. The vet tested for antifreeze on our 2nd one and it was positive so we searched and couldn't find any source. Now that I see this about sago palms I'm wondering if the symptoms could present themselves the same way since we observed convulsions, lock jaw, hind leg paralysis, etc. but no bleeding from nose. We are devastated and are simply having difficulty accepting this but since our female survived after 3 days in pet hospital, we want to find the source of poison but can't. Could the antifreeze test given by the vet be a false positive and they were really poisoned by the dead sago palm leaves? The two boys always liked to tug and chew on dead leaves and sticks laying in the yard. I'm sick to death our female will find the source again but I've searched everywhere and there is no antifreeze or ethylene glycol so I thought it could be a plant.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/9/2011 8:29 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am sorry for the loss of your two beloved pets.  You are right to question the false positive rate of the ethylene glycol test.  The tests performed in veterinary hospitals (Kacey or REACT) are extremely sensitive.  They will react with any type of alcohol including the rubbing alcohol used in most hospitals prior to a blood draw.  Since antifreeze toxicity is so dangerous, I do not fault either company for taking the conservative route.  In my opinion, it is better to have a high false positive rate instead of a high false negative rate when antifreeze is involved.

      Based on the symptoms you described, sago palm poisoning is a definite possibility.  Other rule outs might include drug toxicity (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications would be at the top of my list because they are so common), heavy metals, rat poison, poisonous mushrooms and xylitol.  There are other infectious diseases that can cause similar symptoms but it is unlikely that all three dogs would come down with it at the same time. 
      I hope that helps you find the source of the poison.  I am so sorry for your loss.   
      Reply to this
      1. 3/20/2011 2:11 PM Deborah wrote:
        Hello...I am in the process of adopting a pug who ate part of a sega palm 3 weeks ago. She was very sick and in ICU for a week. Her initial ALT was over 3000 but has now dropped down to a normal level and her foster mom says she seems to being doing great. What is your opinion on the long term effects with this type of toxin? Could liver failure still be a possibility in the future?
        Reply to this
        1. 3/21/2011 9:45 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          I recommend doing a bile acid test which is a superior method for assessing liver function.  Of course, you should also do traditional bloodwork as well.  If the bile acid values are normal, then I would adopt.  Keep the dog on a liver friendly diet for the rest of her life.  This may be more conservative than necessary, but why not take a thoughtful approach to diet given her history?  Here is hoping for normal results on the test and that she gets a new home with you!
          Reply to this
  • 5/1/2011 7:06 PM Dorothy wrote:
    You should be commended for trying to get the word out about these toxic plants. Our 1.5 yr old Mini Schnauzer is currently in the Animal Hospital for ingesting some Sago Palm. This occurred on Saturday night around 8pm and we noticed she vomitted around 9pm. We went to an ER (it was 11pm by this point due to having to find a 2nd one since the 1st was in emergency surgery), where they explained the treatment and the low odds of survival. After two hours, we received the quote and without question I asked that they start treatment. Chloe's PT/PTT were wnl, all but one liver enzyme was wnl initially. I cannot remember if it was her AST or ALT but it was at 110 (high side of normal is 100). She was started on IV after 2am (I hope treatment was started soon enough). Repeat of PT/PTT today was still normal but will not know her liver enzyme repeat until tomorrow morning as she is scheduled for the redraw at 2 am. She had received Plasma, 2 doses of charcoal, and 2 doses of liver meds prior to 9:30 this morning. She seemed depressed today when I went to see her but she was up and moving around. She didn't appear to be lethargic but was sleepy. We are praying she gets through this okay. Our lives would not be the same without her.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/1/2011 8:16 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am so sorry about Chloe.  Please know of my prayerful support.  Low expectations are appropriate but her young age is in her favor.  It is important to be realistic but I have seen animals pull through this toxicity.  I agree with the attending veterinarian that concern for the liver is key.  Again, you and Chloe have my best wishes and prayer. 
      Reply to this
  • 10/18/2011 9:24 PM carlyle wrote:
    I don't know where to start, This has been a very heart wrenching 20 days. We lost our 2yr old after 4days in critical care, 12 plasma transfers and 2 blood donors and transferred her from vet, to emergency clinic and then to a specialist. She lost her battle after fighting for her life. This awful plant, I feel awful that I exposed our babies to them. My 10yr old has been hanging on by a thread. After multiple visits for fluids after his original 3 day stay, last week he was sent home with a cocktail of drugs. One of which was CERINIA-his health has seemed worse, I've had an extremely hard time regarding whether I should put him down because he's miserable, but i just keep thinking he'll pull through this. I was looking online for said effect that associated with all the meds. I was shocked and appauled to read that CERINA made by Pheizer in it's first sentence says that it should not be given to pets with liver problems, and that it have never been tested on animals who had ingested toxins- Is this utter malpractice and drug negligence? The regular vet we saw last was the one who prescribed it. They told us that this would help with his appetite since he hadn't been eating at all and I was having to force feed him with a 30cc syringe(a tip that the vet did not suggest)After reading the warning for CERENIA, I immediately called the vet and they said he should be on both Cerinia and Miirazapine(the real appetite stimulant commonly used for canine cancer) Dr. nelson can you please tell me if I'm out of my mind or if in fact Cerinia was causing Beau to be even more ill since his liver is already under attack from the plant.

    Please advise...
    Reply to this
    1. 10/19/2011 9:03 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      First, I am so sorry.  This is a terribly sad situation all around.  As you know, Sago Palms cause horrible hepatic necrosis.  Said another way, they destroy the liver and dogs often die within 72 hours of ingestion.  They start hemorrhaging internally due to loss of the factors required to clot blood.  It is the liver that produces these clotting factors and that's why death is usually so rapid.  It is also why the transfusions were necessary and were needed quickly.  The fact that your 10 year old is still alive offers some reason for hope but unfortunately, this toxin is tough to beat. 

      Regarding Cerenia (maropitant), it is a drug some veterinarians would choose in this situation.  For example, it reduces neurogenic inflammation and downregulates cytokine release which is useful in acute hepatic toxicities.  It also has a beneficial effect on nausea.        

      I'm so sorry they got into Sago Palms and that you lost your 2 year old.  Please know I hard I am pulling for the older one.   

      Reply to this
  • 12/1/2011 9:55 AM Sandy wrote:
    Everyone is saying if they eat the seeds, base, Fruit. How about just the leaves?
    Reply to this
    1. 12/10/2011 10:51 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      All parts of sago palms are poisonous.  The roots and seeds contain the most toxin.  I know of a dog (toy breed) that died after chewing on one branch that was accidentally left by the gardener. 
      Reply to this
  • 2/16/2012 8:55 PM Sayre wrote:
    My dog loves to walk under the sago palm. We have a very large one. It is so strange how she moves and quivers with delight! She likes the feel of the palms on her skin. She acts like it is euphoric! She has never been sick from it. She doesn't eat the leaves. Is this plant a hallucinogen? She definitely gets something just from the feel of it!
    Reply to this
    1. 2/16/2012 10:20 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Sago palms are poisonous.  I would strongly recommend you keep your dog away from that plant.  It causes severe liver failure.   
      Reply to this
  • 4/2/2012 7:41 AM Donna wrote:
    My almost 3 yr old chihuahua got an old sago palm seed pod from the yard. I noticed he vomited around 11 am sat and seemed sick so I looked through the barf to see what it was and I found parts of the pod. I took him to his reg vet who gave him fluids,stomach meds and drew blood. The ALT was 130..on the high end. It's now been 48 hours, my vet gave him 2 more doses of fluid Sunday and when he drew blood today, the ALT is over 800. He now has my dog on intensive fluid therapy because he said my dogs definitely had more life in his face today but his liver was having issues.My question is, at over 800 ALT, can the damage possibly be reversed? My vet seems to think its a good possibility.
    Reply to this
    1. 4/3/2012 7:46 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      With sago palms it takes several days to determine the full extent of injury.  Because the liver is such an important organ, it can regenerate to a certain extent.  The key is to keep the patient going to allow the regeneration to occur and do everything possible to help the liver function.  In veterinary college, I had a patient in a similar situation.  His lab values were getting worse but he looked better clinically.  My professor reminded me to "treat the patient, not the lab values."  This dog went on to make a complete recovery with the help of a special diet and liver supplements.  Hang in there and try to visit your dog as much as possible.  It is important for him to know you are still a vital part of his life.
      Reply to this
      1. 6/10/2012 7:38 AM Donna wrote:
        My vet treated him with everything he could and my dog still died 2 months after eating the seed pod. He was only 3 years old and is greatly missed.Those plants need to be labeled poisonous period!
        Reply to this
        1. 6/11/2012 6:32 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          I agree!  I am sorry for your loss.
          Reply to this
  • 4/7/2012 11:15 PM Tim thatcher wrote:
    Earlier today my 6 month old pit bill took a sago palm out of the ground and ate the entire pod. It was small and freshly planted it she ate the whole thing. When I got home from lunch I found that she had eaten it and shortly after she began to vomit, about ten times it looked like she had gotten all of it out of her system but I took her to the er anyways not having any clue that these plant were highly toxic. On the way to the er she threw up twice in the car and when I got there she was immedietly taken back to begin treatment the dr said that her stomach was empty which was good but we still don't know what her liver enzyme level is. After the first set of labs everything was within normal limits which is good but they will do a second set in the morning. My wife and I are sitting on pins and needles worried about our pup I hope that everything that we have heard so far is good and that she will be ok. She is staying the night in the hospital I just want to know that she will be ok.
    Reply to this
    1. 4/8/2012 1:25 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      What are her values this morning?  If the liver enzymes aren't too elevated, her chances of making a complete recovery are good.  Talk to your veterinarian about a diet and supplements that will help her liver recover once she is out of this critical window.  Please let me know how she does, Dr. Nelson 
      Reply to this
  • 6/11/2012 6:15 PM Lisa wrote:
    Do the symptoms start off with drooping at the mouth. Please, I'm worried. Thanks.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/12/2012 9:10 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I'm sorry but I don't understand what you mean by 'drooping at the mouth'.  In my experience, the most common cause of a one-sided drooping lip is Horner's Disease which is a fancy term from a problem with the facial nerve as it runs through the area of the ear.  If your pet is acting abnormally, I would recommend bringing them to a veterinarian right away.  Good luck!
      Reply to this
  • 6/16/2012 11:46 PM Kathi Koenig wrote:
    My 4 month old Siberian Husky ate sago palm fronds Wed am, vomited around 11 that eve, twice with his lunch and dinner coming up, then dry heaves a few times, then yellow foam. Went to ER and got iv fluids and serenia injection. Was sent home same night. Took him to my vet Thurs am and they ran cbc with was normal, said come back in two weeks to check blood again for toxicity. Should we be treating more aggressively? Mischka is eating with good appetite ( now Sat eve) and has only thrown up once this am right after breakfast ( which he the re ate) and once in eve after a huge drink of water (threw up only water). After perusing the internet i am so worried that his seemingly fine condition is only the eye of the storm. Should i be worried?
    Reply to this
    1. 6/17/2012 6:34 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Because sago  palms are so toxic, I am extremely cautious with patients who consume this plant.  Since a CBC (complete blood count) only analyzes red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, I would also run a superchem and bile acids right away to check his liver function.  Good luck with Mischka!       
      Reply to this
  • 6/17/2012 6:49 AM Deborah wrote:
    Hi…my name is Deborah and I posted on this blog on 3/20/11 with my concerns for Izzi (pug) which I have since adopted. She had gotten into a Sega Palm at her foster moms before I had adopted her. I just couldn’t back at her even with an unsure future. She had the same symptoms…vomiting yellow and passing out….really bad shape. I am happy to say she is doing fine. Healthy and Happy. She was at LSU veterinary hospital for several weeks and had many transfusions and such right after the incident. I do have her on denamarin (which LSU recommended). I kept her on a tablet every day for the first year and now give her one every other day. It’s a great supplement that supports the liver. All her blood work (every 6 months) has been perfect. I also have her on Blue dog food and no people food. I know some may not agree with the dog food diet but she is healthy, has a shiny coat, bright eyes, and at an awesome weight for a pug. I would ask your vet about the supplement. You can only get it from a vet. My cost in Atlanta is $35.00 for a month supply for a weight of 15 lbs. I know this is very scary for you. I just wanted to share my experience. I will keep you and your little one in my prayers
    Reply to this
  • 6/17/2012 9:15 AM Kathi Koenig wrote:
    Thank you for responding. I took Mischka back to the vet and they took more blood for a superchem but unfortunately he had already eaten so can't do the bile test until tomorrow am. I looked at his first CBC and saw the ALT was on the high side at 79 and the GGT was high at 2. His appetite is still strong,now into the fifth day after eating the palm fronds, so I remain hopeful for a full recovery. I really appreciate that you run this blog. Thank you again for your interest and concern.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/17/2012 11:27 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      That's not bad for a dog who ingested sago palm.  Remember, most of the time we can treat mild to moderate liver problems with food and supplements and give the dog a good quality of life.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that your dog will be one of the lucky ones with no long term problems. 
      Reply to this
  • 6/17/2012 3:21 PM Kathi Koenig wrote:
    Hi Deborah,

    Thank goodness Izzi is well! That is music to my ears. It is so encouraging to hear a story with a positive outcome after reading all the doom and gloom. My son says I "Woogle" too much (that's worry + Google, our new family term for what I do, rush to the internet when there are adverse symptoms). After reading Dr. Nelson's response to me (much appreciated), I called my vet office, got the Doc on call (not the one who treated Mischka), and he said to bring him in (it was Sunday morning, day 5) and they could do the Superchem and liver bile tests. Will have partial results Monday morning; the doctor said that he thought Mischka would be less perky and have less appetite if the toxin was affecting his liver at this point, and didn't recommend any liver supplements at this time. I'm glad you told me what you are giving Izzi; I will ask about it in the morning for Mischka. One interesting comment from the vet was that perhaps I should be "free feeding" Mischka, since he is a growing puppy and will have different growth rates at different times, his calorie needs will vary, and maybe if he has more food available he won't eat so many random things in the garden. I was feeding him 3 cups total of dry food (Candidae) a day, one each at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The vet also recommended me going to Science Diet because he said that they are more likely to have a consistent recipe for their kibble than smaller companies and that they are reputable and have big money behind their research to find the optimum combination of nutrients for each dog by size and age.

    I will let you know what Mischka's test results are tomorrow...thinking good and hopeful thoughts. :)
    Reply to this
  • 6/18/2012 5:43 AM shelly wrote:
    We have Clover our white deaf boxer my daughter adopted last year.She stayed at a friends and we think she ate Sago. She lost weight very fast within 4 days and I took her to the vet. they didnt detect sago as I had no idea at the time, now I am thinking that thats what it is. She had diarrhea and vomiting. Now after a few weeks she seems to be gaining weight back slowly. However I think I need to call the vet and have her tested for liver functions and to see if the Sago is in her blood. For some reason at a year old she has decided to be a puppy and chew and eat everything! It could be a mushroom in the yard too but the Sagos this lady planted seemed chewed on. Better to be safe than sorry as we cant lose her!
    Reply to this
    1. 6/18/2012 11:18 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Yes, it is better to be cautious with sago palms.  This will also provide a baseline for her values. 
      Reply to this
  • 7/9/2012 5:29 PM Roland wrote:
    I have a boxer that recently had puppies and now she has developed hair loss on both sides of her sides and on top of her back we have a savory palm she has dug next to and laying by it just wanting to know if that could be the cause of her hair loss
    Reply to this
    1. 7/11/2012 8:11 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Sorry for the slow response about your dog.  It is common for females to blow their coats during or after nursing a litter of pups.  In most cases, the hair will grow back within a few months of weaning the litter.  I would recommend a trip to your veterinarian and some blood work to make sure she is fit enough to nurse a litter.  Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with the kind of palm you mentioned.  Until you know the palm is safe, I would keep her away from it.  Good luck and congrats on the new puppies!
      Reply to this
  • 8/6/2012 9:55 PM Ana wrote:
    On July 19, 2012 my 1 year old cavalier ate the tip of a sago palm seed and began throwing up 2 hours later. I took her to the emergency clinic where all her values were normal. She was in the critical care unit for 3 days while they tested her repeatedly for liver failure and gave her activated charcoal to help clear the poison.

    She was sent home with an ALT of 97 and a rx diet for a liver supplement and l/d food.

    She refuses to eat the food.

    I have tried both the wet and the dry formulas in the last 3 weeks and she has refused both of them even with the additives they let me add and 4 days of letting her get used to the idea by not giving her anything else.

    The vet I saw says to just force feed her; that she must eat this food or she will die. But if I have to make her eat by pinning her head down then prying open her mouth and jamming kibble one at a time down her throat won't she die anyway from choking?

    Is there any other liver friendly diet that I can try?

    I am also told that she can go into sudden liver at any time in the next 6 months due to the poisoning and that I need to bring her in every month for more blood work. I agree that she needs to be monitored just in case, but if she never had liver problems and threw up the poison right away and never went over an ALT of 120 in the whole 3 days she was in their care why would she have problems 6 months from now?
    Reply to this
    1. 8/8/2012 8:12 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am glad your dog made it through the initial phases of sago palm poisoning.  Unfortunately, it can take up to 6 months to know the full extend of the damage to the liver which is probably why your veterinarian is being cautious.  There are several companies who make prescription liver diets for dogs.  Since your dog hates the one you have, I would try another brand or have a nutritionist make up a recipe for a home cooked diet.  I have also had good luck flavoring the food with a pinch of dried rosemary. My thoughts are with your dog for a full recovery.   
      Reply to this
  • 8/10/2012 5:59 PM steve wrote:
    wow,i had no idea.we have two English loves to get under the leaves cause they scratch his back.we have them all over our property.haven't seen them eating the leaves only tall grass in the yard. Thanks for the warning.we will definitely keep an eye out!
    Reply to this
  • 9/5/2012 11:54 AM Nancy wrote:
    I am heartbroken and am trying to understand how exactly Sago Palm poisoning effects the liver.
    I was told that my one year old pup Charley (a girl) probably has only up to a year to live. On
    7/10, she came in with what I later discovered was a Sago Palm Seed. It was broken open, but I
    took it away from her and it didn't appear that she ate any. I won't go into all the details, but took her
    in on 7/12 to the vet where they kept her for about a week giving her fluids, etc.

    Her initial test results on 7/12 were ALT 256, ALKP 310 and AMYL 229. The numbers went down for
    several days and then when she came home they spiked on 7/23 to ALT 863, ALKP 607 and AMYL 386.
    She was then referred to a local veterinary specialist group. On 8/15 & 16 they did an ultrasound and a biopsy. The biopsy showed mild fibrosis and fibroplasia, low grade subacute hepatitis and mild vacuolar degeneration. There were also ascites present. It said based on the clinical description of ascites and low albumin, she is in failure and the liver is not recovering well.

    I took her back in for blood work on 8/28. All her numbers seem good, in the normal range. ALT 99,
    ALKP 146. In all the previous tests her albumin was in normal range, but on 8/7 it was 2.0. On this last
    test her albumin was 2.6.

    Since the initial illness, she has seemed pretty much her normal self. Seems to feel good, is playful, etc.
    What I'm confused about is, if the biopsy showed just mild fibrosis and most of her test numbers are now in the normal range, what is happening that indicates that she is in liver failure. Is it because of the ascites? From the ultrasound on both 8/15 and 8/28 there is a small amount of ascites.
    I've been researching and it seems if 80% of liver is OK then the liver should still be able to function normally. They keep talking about it going into
    cihhrosis. What is causing the continuing damage?

    Initially when we tried the special liver diet, store bought and 7 different home recipes, she would not
    eat a bite. She is now on RC Gastro Intestinal Low Fat dry dog food. She has been gobbling it down 3 times a day and has gained a little weight. Her stools are normal. She is on Denamarin, Prednisone,Lactulose Syrup, Neomycin Sulfate and Ursodial. Initially she was also on an appetite stimulant, but she doesn't seem to need that now.

    Charley is the sweetest dog I've ever had. Her mom is a Golden Doodle and dad is a King Charles Cavalier. In the last 3 months, my divorce was finalized and my mother died. It was a rough year and Charley has been such a blessing. To have this happen to her is killing me.

    Anyway, I know the doctors don't have a crystal ball, but I do want to be prepared. But I also want to
    understand what is happening to her. I was so happy to see your website. You seem so caring and
    knowledgeble. Hopefully, you can help me understand.

    Thank you for any help you can give me.
    Reply to this
    1. 9/7/2012 10:17 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am so sorry for what Charley is going through.  From your comments, it looks like you and your veterinarians are doing everything possible to help Charley through this ordeal.  Unfortunately, it takes a long time to determine how much of her liver was damaged from the sago palm.  Let me explain, the toxin from this plant damages the liver cells called hepatocytes.  In mild cases, the cells are stressed for awhile and leak enzymes but will eventually make a full recovery.  In more severe cases, the cells are destroyed and replaced by scar tissue which does not perform the same functions as a hepatocyte. Cirrhosis is a fancy term used to describe the condition when normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. If only a small portion of the liver is replaced by scar tissue, the patient can still live a normal life.  Patients with a moderate amount of scar tissue can be managed medically with a combination of diet, supplements and medicine. Unfortunately, the only treatment for patients with a lot of scar tissue is a liver transplant.

      Ascites is a clinical sign of cirrhosis.  The liver produces an important protein called albumin that circulates in the blood.  Albumin helps create osmotic pressure to hold water in the blood vessels.  When the amount of albumin drops, the water leaks out of the blood vessels and accumulates in the abdomen (ascites).  Your veterinarians are worried because the presence of ascites means that Charley's liver sustained a lot of damage from the sago palm.

      Charley's future will depend upon how much damage was done to her liver. Scar tissue forms slowly which is why we won't know the full extent of the damage for months.  The good news is that hepatocytes can regenerate with time.  I have seen cirrhotic livers with large nodules of regenerated tissue.  The important thing is to keep her eating.  In my experience, a good appetite is a good sign.  My thoughts are with you and Charley during this difficult time.  Please let me know how she does.         


      Reply to this
  • 9/6/2012 8:05 AM Nancy wrote:
    I wrote a very long letter yesterday, so didn't have room to include this. I live in Houston where at least in my neighborhood, I think everyone has at least one Sago Palm. I had heard they were good luck and many people have them by their front doors. Ours got so big, that we transplanted it in the back by our pool. I wish I would have known how horribly toxic they were before doing that. My sweet puppy,
    who just turned a year old when this happened, was poisoned enough by just having a seed in her mouth (it was broken open), that she will most likely die in the next year of liver failure. I've been trying to get the word out to everyone I know, because no one seems to know. I have posted it on fb, etc. If you think you're safe because you've never seen a seed (the most poisonous part), please still get rid of it. As Dr. Nelson mentioned the entire plant is poisonous. I also learned that the plants don't germinate for a period of years, so this might have been the first time it produced the seeds.
    Afterward, after digging it up, I found about 15-30 seeds scattered around under bushes. I had no idea what it was when Charley brought it in the house. Later, I read that dogs are very attracted to them.

    Apparently you used to just find these plants down south in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, but the box stores, Costco, Lowe's, etc. are now carrying them all over the country. I saw a petition on another site to try to have warning labels attached to the plants. I don't know if it was legit (hopefully so), but I really wish something could be done to make people aware. I think they are way more dangerous and toxic than other plants we may always have heard about.
    I am absolutely heartbroken that I am going to lose Charley, in such a horrible way, that I don't want anyone else to have to go through this.
    Reply to this
  • 9/19/2012 7:58 PM Connie Mitchell wrote:
    Everything that Dr. Nelson stated here came true for us today. Our little Gracie (11 month old long haired dachshund) ate some Sago seeds this morning about 9 am, and she died tonight at about 9. She has been at the vets all day long, they tried so hard to save her, it's just nothing helped...
    Reply to this
    1. 9/19/2012 8:47 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am so sorry for your loss.  Please know that my thoughts are with you during this difficult time. 
      Reply to this
  • 9/20/2012 6:21 AM Nancy wrote:
    Connie, I too am so, so sorry for your loss. It is heartbreaking what these plants can do. My thoughts and prayers are with you.
    Reply to this
  • 11/14/2012 8:03 PM Shannon wrote:
    My yellow lab Piglet ate a bunch of seeds about two weeks ago and vomited them up the same day about an hour or two later. Continued vomiting until around 11pm when I took him to the vet clinic. I had no idea these were so poisonous. I live in South Carolina and lots of palm plants are common here. He was in clinic for 3days. Released and has had to be force fed medicine and food for the past two weeks. His levels started going up about a week later. ALT is at 578. Our vet does not think his chances are good. He just looks depressed and traumatized from the whole ordeal. I am just sick to my stomach and heartbroken. I hated that plant and wanted it removed for so long. My sweet husband took an ax to the thing. The dog is on IV fluids that I give him every night and drinking water. He just refuses to eat. He does get excited to go for short walks. I just don't want him to suffer. We are hoping he will rally at some point, and I keep reading the internet for hope or answers. I do not want him to suffer. He does not have any signs yet of cirrosis, yellow skin, eyes, pale gums, bruising etc. I just don't want him to be in any pain. Am I stupid to keep hoping?
    Reply to this
    1. 11/15/2012 6:28 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      No, I would give my pet every possible chance as well.  I am so sorry that Piglet (great name for a lab) got into this awful plant.  I wish there was some way to get the big box stores to put a warning on them.  Please know that Piglet is in my thoughts.   
      Reply to this
    2. 11/15/2012 7:57 AM Donna wrote:
      I'm so sorry..I lost my dog to one of those stupid plants in June and I will miss him forever. I got a puppy and I never ever let him outside alone because he's an "eater" like the one I lost and I'm not ever going through that again. Oh and I killed that palm with a gallon of bleach but I always worry Hobo will find an old leaf or seed's sad that stores sell them to ppl and don't tell us they can kill your kid or pets!!
      Reply to this
  • 12/1/2012 10:53 PM Shannon wrote:

    I am so sorry for your loss. It is so heartbreaking to think that this plant could do something so harmful. I I understand your wanting to watch the dog every second, but that is a lot to put on yourself. I have cried and cried about wanting to have that plant gone before and blaming myself for not watching him more closely. But you can't blame yourself. And you can't control everything they do. Be kind to yourself. And just love your new puppy in honor of your doggie that died. My Piglet is getting worse, he now has jaundice and his gums are yellow. But he still plays and walks and is eating a little and doesn't seem to outwardly be suffering. So there is always hope. And love. Happy Holidays to you. I hope things get a little easier for you and we spread as much news about this horrible plant as possible. : )
    Reply to this
  • 1/30/2013 12:57 PM Terri wrote:
    Hi Dr. Nelson,
    I am wondering if there are any "happy ending" stories related to Sago poisoning in dogs. My Goldendoodle was 8 months old when she ate part of the plant after the gardener removed it from our yard. She vomited, we figured it out, took her in to the emergency clinic within 2 hours of ingestion and it's now 6.5 months later. I had a bile test done in Nov. that showed complete function and we are doing a follow up test this Friday. It scares me (a lot) that the test might show liver failure. She is eating fine but is not as "crazy" as she usually is the last week. Could be a bug of some sort. I was just hoping to see what the % survival rates are after the first 6 months - if you have that information.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/31/2013 7:56 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Yes there are many happy endings to sago palm poisonings.  According to an article by Dr. J.C. Albretson, "68% of dogs responded well to treatment and supportive care."  In my experience, the mortality rate is much worse when the seeds are ingested.  Since her energy level is off, I would bring her to your veterinarian for a check up and some screening blood work.  Lack of energy is not normal for a goldendoodle. 

      Albretson, J. C. et al., 'Cycad palm toxicosis in dogs: 60 cases (1987 - 1997), J. Am. Vet. Assoc. July 1998; 213(1): 99-101.

      Reply to this
      1. 2/10/2013 3:36 PM Patrik Hegrenes wrote:
        Hi, I have had a sago palm in my room and it has died recently. It's been dead for a few months, so just today i decided to go put it in the garage. I knew it was poisonous so Im glad its dead. But I'm worried that a dead pine may have fallen off as i brought it to the garage, but I can't find much must a dog eat to become poisoned? Can even one single pine be enough? Thank you.
        Reply to this
        1. 2/13/2013 8:36 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          It's possible.  They are just so toxic that you really do want to look again to make sure they are all gone.  Take care, 
          Reply to this
  • 3/5/2013 8:27 PM Tammy wrote:
    We have a 7 month old mini dachshund named Reeses who ate part of an old sago palm seed (no coating on the outside). We don't even have a sago in our yard, but our neighbor has one about 4 ft. from our fence line and it somehow the seed rolled into our yard. Her symptoms started on 3/3 in the afternoon. She threw up several times and was very lethargic. By 3/4 she was still lethargic and was not able to hold her bladder. That's when we started sifting through her vomit outside and found parts of a seed that we later were able to find in the yard. After research, we learned it was from the sago palm in our neighbor's yard. We took her to the vet in the afternoon after realizing what it was and they did blood work and her liver level was 190 (24 hours after ingestion). They gave her fluids and a shot for nausea and sent us home. We also have a prescription for Denamarin. She's much better today and ate well all day. Her energy is not the same though. My children keep thinking she's going to get better, but the odds are against it. It's so hard to believe, and instead of saying that these are toxic, they should be labeled deadly and maybe the stores would stop selling them.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/6/2013 6:55 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I agree, these plants should be labeled deadly!
      Reply to this
      1. 3/11/2013 11:43 AM Tammy wrote:
        We've made it a week! Reeses isn't able to eat as much as she could last week. She is throwing up her am meal every day. The past two days she was only able to keep down what she ate later in the day. I'm trying smaller meals more often. Our vet doesn't want to do anything until next week as far as checking her blood work. They were hoping she would improve taking the Denamarin, but Reeses hasn't been able to keep it down. I am going to switch giving it to her in the pm with food. Hoping for the best for our little puppy! What are your experiences for someone who's made it this far?
        Reply to this
        1. 3/12/2013 8:01 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          I am happy to hear that Reeses is still hanging in there.  I would recommend speaking with your veterinarian about adding an anti-nausea or anti-emetic to Resses' treatment protocol to help with the vomiting.  Feeding smaller meals throughout the day is also a good idea.  Although I am happy to hear that she has made it this far, it is still too early to know how much damage her liver sustained.  The next set of blood work will give you a much clearer picture.  I'm hoping for the best!
          Reply to this
          1. 3/12/2013 7:29 PM Tammy wrote:
            Thank you for telling me to call the vet. They decided to do the bloodwork today and the news wasn't good. Her levels were 300 and over 500, but I don't remember which one was which. They did give her an anti nausea medicine and she is keeping everything down so far. I know we can pray for a miracle! Thank you for your help and advice and I will keep you posted.
            Reply to this
            1. 3/10/2014 12:06 PM Sally wrote:
              I am not sure if you get updates on this post anymore, but if you do, do you recall what Reese's AST levels looked like? It turns out my orignal vet did not even test for these, and now that I know at week 3 my baby has AST of 70....I am wondering if it is on it's way up or down. His ALT is on it's way down, but the AST is freaking me out. Hopefully it is going down a reese's still doing well all this time later? Ugggg this waiting game is so horrible.
              Reply to this
  • 3/13/2013 12:28 PM Jason wrote:
    While letting my two dogs play at a friends house 3 days ago I noticed my Doberman eating a Cardboard plant seed. I immediately went into panic mode. I always have known that they are poisonous but wasn't aware that my buddy had any in his yard. Since I did see the Doberman eating one I induced vomiting on both dogs with Hydrogen Peroxide. Both dogs vomited and I did see 3 chewed up seeds in the Dobermans vomit, no seeds were found in the in the vomit of my Jack Russell. The Jack Russell to my knowledge didn't eat any of the seeds.

    Its been 3 days now and both dogs are doing fine. I went to my vet the day after and told her what happened and she had us buy a liver supplement called Verti-Liver Canine Chews. She did not recommend any blood work to be done. Should I still be worried about this? Should I get a blood test done?
    Thanks, Jason
    Reply to this
    1. 3/13/2013 8:19 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I would recommend blood tests for everyone just to make sure that your dogs are OK.  I also put my patients on a supplement to help the liver out.  I hope and pray that the blood work is all normal. 
      Reply to this
      1. 3/14/2013 3:03 AM Jason wrote:
        Thanks for the quick reply. When would be the best time to get the blood tests done? It's been 4 days now since the incident. Would a blood test this soon show damage or should I wait a while to get them done? Thank you so much for your help.
        Reply to this
        1. 3/14/2013 9:23 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          I would do it now.  If the results are normal, you should go buy a lottery ticket since this is your lucky day.  If they are abnormal, your veterinarian will likely start additional therapy to help your dogs. 
          Reply to this
          1. 3/15/2013 9:08 AM Jason wrote:
            Well the blood tests came back today and everything looks good. I probably will get them checked in the next couple months just to make sure and I'm going to keep them on the liver supplement just in case.

            Thank you Dr Nelson for all your help. I was almost positive that our Jack Russell hadn't eaten any but the Doberman pup did. We had them both tested just to be sure. My vet said that inducing the vomiting with the Hydrogen Peroxide looks like it saved my Dobermans life.

            Thank you so much for your time and helping me out. There's not really a lot of info on this subject. I'm going out to buy that lottery ticket.

            Reply to this
            1. 3/16/2013 8:13 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
              I agree with you vet. Inducing vomiting right away is the key to overcoming this deadly plant.  Thanks for the update.  I am so glad it all worked out.
              Reply to this
  • 3/14/2013 10:00 AM Jason wrote:
    Im going to set an appointment today to get it done on both dogs. I'll let you know how it goes when the blood work comes back. Thanks for your time.
    Reply to this
  • 3/14/2013 8:42 PM Maury wrote:
    We have a 1.5 year old poodle mix that ingested part of a sago seed on 3/10. It is uncertain how much she ate but she vomited several times and became increasingly lethargic. We took her to an emergency vet clinic where she was started on IV and charcoal treatmemt. Lab values from that day indicated an ALT of 3100. She has continued to receive IV supportive care for 4 days and her ALT levels have dropped to 840 on 3/12 and 531 on 3/14. However her albumin levels have decreased from normal range on 3/10 to 1.6 on 3/12 and 1.4 on 3/14. According to the vet, there is no indication of fluid retention at this time. IV treatment is continuing. She is still lethargic, depressed, and vomiting daily despite the use of several different anti-nausea meds. During our visit to the vet on 3/14 our dog appeared excited (tail wagging) when we entered the room which seemed somewhat positive. In your experience have you seen such low albumin levels improve following sago ingestion? Have you had more success with any particular anti-nausea med? Also, what else might you add to her treatment plan? Thank you
    Reply to this
    1. 3/16/2013 8:18 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      From what you described, I am very worried about your dog.  When the albumin drops, that means the liver has sustained significant damage.  There is a fluid product called Hetastarch that can be used to help with the low albumin.  I use it to get patients through a short-term crisis  Perhaps that will help.  Good luck with her. 
      Reply to this
  • 3/26/2013 10:17 AM Tammy wrote:
    Well, we are 3 weeks past when Reeses ingested the Sago Palm seed. Her appetite is improving every day, and she's been eating her normal amount of food. She's also much more playful this week and hasn't vomited for almost 2 weeks now. Can a puppy actually overcome the poison? I know her numbers from 2 weeks ago don't look good, but she's seeming healthier every day. She's still on Denamarin and Pepcid.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/27/2013 8:43 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      That is wonderful!  Yes the puppy can overcome this.  The liver does have some regenerative capability.  The drugs she is on are proper so please keep up the good work.  For my part, I will send good wishes from Arizona!
      Reply to this
  • 5/2/2013 11:26 AM Tammy wrote:
    Well, we are now 2 months past when Reeses ingested the Sago Palm seed. I can finally say that she is 100% back to normal-eating and behavior-wise. We took her to the vet about 3 weeks ago and her belly was distended and her blood work was about the same as it was the last time we had it checked. Every week since then she has made improvements. Her appetite is exactly as it was and her belly is no longer distended! We don't go back for another blood draw for a few weeks, but I am convinced she's going to make it. She's still taking Pepcid and chewable Denamarin. Just wanted to give you an update. Thanks for providing a place for us to share our experience.
    Reply to this
    1. 5/2/2013 1:40 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      That's great news.  I hope your experience will inspire others who are caring for pets that ingested this terrible plant.  Thanks for sharing and my best to Reeses for continued improvement. 
      Reply to this
      1. 5/2/2013 2:43 PM Tammy wrote:
        We are so excited that she seems to have turned the corner! I'll post again as soon as we have her next lab numbers, but that won't be for another 3 weeks.
        Reply to this
    2. 6/1/2013 9:49 AM Tammy wrote:
      We took Reeses for a recheck appointment yesterday, and all of her levels minus one are totally normal. The value that isn't normal is just slightly above where it should be. We are going to continue the Denamarin for another 3 months and then go for follow up blood work. Reeses is our vet's first Sago Palm survivor. She is confident that Reeses will make a full recovery and we are very happy to be a success story 3 long months later. I wanted to give a final update to give others hope who find out their pet was poisoned by the Sago Palm; there are some happy endings. For those of you who have lost your pet, our hearts go out to you!
      Reply to this
      1. 6/1/2013 4:11 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
        Congratulations!  It sounds like Reeses has made a remarkable recovery.  Please give her a hug for me. 
        Reply to this
        1. 6/2/2013 7:50 AM Tammy wrote:
          Will do! Thank you Dr. Nelson for your wisdom and encouragement through this trial. Now for some puppy training classes; she became quite spoiled from being so sick :-)
          Reply to this
  • 6/19/2013 9:17 AM RP wrote:
    Our 6 month old golden mix chewed on a sago seed on Sunday 6/16 at about 3pm and started throwing up about 2 hours later and became very lethargic. We took her to the ER at 9pm where they gave her an IV, acetylcysteine, and started charcoal treatments. Her ALT level was 329 at 11 pm that night. We transferred her to our regular vet in the morning where he continued charcoal treatments and an IV. By 4 pm the next day (Monday) her ALT dropped to 177 and all other levels were normal. By 10 am Tuesday her ALT dropped 3 points to 174. We went home with Denamarin, Metronidazole, and Carafate (Sucralfate). Her appetite is back and energy level is almost back to normal. Our vet is optimistic about a good recovery due to her treatment and youth. We will take her in a month for another blood test.
    Does it sound like her liver could make a full recovery?
    And if so, how long before we can feel confident she will stay healthy?

    Thank you for your help.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/21/2013 10:03 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I agree with your veterinarian.  Thanks to your quick action and great care from the E.R. and your veterinarian, I am optimistic your dog will make a full recovery.  To be safe, I would always be careful with anything (drugs, foods, etc.,) that affect liver function.  You may also want to keep her on liver supplements like Denamarin even after her values return to normal. 
      Reply to this
    2. 6/21/2013 10:30 AM Tammy wrote:
      Dear RP,
      We were touch and go with our puppy Reeses--for about 1 1/2 months. It has taken 3 months for her liver levels to return to normal (and one is still slightly elevated). I think you'll have a good idea in about a month and a great idea in 2 months. So sorry that you've had to go through this! We did do as Dr. Nelson advised and have kept her on the Denamarin and switched the heartworm medication to one that is easier on the liver.

      Reply to this
      1. 6/24/2013 8:18 AM RP wrote:
        Thank you Dr. Nelson and Tammy,
        The puppy was on Sentinel for flea prevention and heartworm and is due for another dose in about a week. What heartworm medication and flea
        preventatives are easiest on the liver?

        Thank you again
        Reply to this
        1. 6/26/2013 8:51 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          In general, my review of the literature suggests that the major brands of preventatives are acceptable regarding the liver.  But without knowing the specific values for your dog, I have to suggest consulting your veterinarian for a more thoughtful answer.  Good luck!
          Reply to this
  • 6/27/2013 5:24 AM Tammy wrote:
    Reeses is now on Sentinel. We had to go off heartworm meds for 2 months because she was so ill. When they put her back on, it was Sentinel that my vet chose (didn't ask why). I'd ask your vet. Hope that helps!
    Reply to this
  • 7/10/2013 12:26 PM Jackie wrote:
    My 7 year old English Bulldog died this morning, suspected Sago Palm was the cause. He has had throw up problems before but then got better. Within 5 hours he was so ill we took him to the pet hospital. There was nothign they could do, his liver failed and he passed away. I had no idea this palm was poisonus. I suspect he has eaten this before but was younger and able to recover. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do now. We lost a beloved pet and our children will miss their bff. He was an amazing pet to have around children and babies.
    Reply to this
    1. 7/12/2013 8:35 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am so terribly sorry.  You are right that the toxicity could have built up over time.  Again, I am sorry for your dog, you and the children.
      Reply to this
  • 8/30/2013 6:18 AM Susan wrote:
    My 7 month old boxer puppy, Rocky, ingested sago palm two weeks ago, and he threw up many times within an hour afterward and had some diahrea. We rushed him to the vet, then to a specialty emergency clinic. He was given liquid charcoal and another medicine that would possibly help bind to it (starts with a "C" I think.) For the first 4 days, his bloodwork looked completely normal. He did very well and ate well too. (He came home on day 3.) The vet then didn't recheck until day 11, and the bloodwork showed an increase in the ALT (he had 183 with 118 being the upper normal) and AST (he had 71 with the upper normal being 66 I think). That vet was surprised that his numbers had increased sometime between day 4 and day 11, but is not very worried at this point and is still fairly positive on his prognosis. I went to a reputable internal medicine specialist yesterday (day 14) for a second opinion, and he said that the information from the day 11 bloodwork tells him that some of our puppy's liver cells have been severely damaged. He can't say at this point what percentage of the liver cells have been affected, but he says that the mildly elevated AST number tells him that the nucleus of the cells has been damaged. Therefore he says that the odds are that my puppy will develop cirrhosis of the liver, and eventually have chronic hepatitis. He stated that chronic hepatitis that is caused by toxins to the liver is almost never successfully treated. He stated that nearly all of the sago palm dogs that he has seen in his 10 yrs have come back within a year with chronic hepatitis that leads to liver failure. He was just giving me the odds as he sees them, which is what I asked for, and he said that we will treat Rocky and hope that he is one of the few that survive without chronic hepatitis developing. We will take him in again in a week to do new bloodwork and a bile test. He said the bile test will give us a much better idea of the percentage of damaged cells in the liver. Oh, and he is taking Denamarin, prilosec, Ursodial, and vitamin E. What are your thoughts on his AST and ALT numbers, and if he has some liver cell death, what are your thoughts on cirrhosis and eventual chronic hepatitis? Thank you!!
    Reply to this
    1. 8/31/2013 9:07 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      First, I am sorry your puppy and you are going through this.  I always take this approach; expect the best until the worst is proven.  At this point, I'm more of a mind like your primary veterinarian.  In fact, I have had several cases do fine particularly with the early treatment you obtained.  That is not so say the internist may not be correct in the end, but at the moment, I'm more optimistic.  The bile acids test is a good idea and you might even have an ultrasound performed to check the structure of the liver.  So I don't wish to offer false hope but given what you've shared, I am more optimistic than the internist.  Please keep me posted on your dog's progress and please accept my best wishes to you both. 
      Reply to this
  • 9/1/2013 8:06 AM cation Mlwasns wrote:
    Susan, so sorry about Rocky. I wrote about my Charley on 9/5/2012, and 9/6/2012 above with all the numbers, details. Charley ate the Sago Palm seed in July 2012 (her 1st b-day) and they weren't expecting her to live a year. In all the blood work we have done since, her numbers have been normal. For this issue i take her to some vet specialists here in Houston and they said they haven't seen many cases where the dog is doing so well. I know she has liver damage, so who knows what the future will bring, but for the last year she has done great.
    Just to let you know, she's is also taking Denamarin, Lactulose and Ursadial. They had her one some prednisone, but has since taken her off of those.
    Good luck to Rocky and all the other pups going through this. It is heartbreaking when this happens and I hate to get my hope up too much, but also wanted to give hope to some of you going through this that have gotten such a dire diagnosis.
    Dr. Nelson, thanks so much for this blog!! I know when this happened to Charley, I searched all over for information and was so happy to see that you take the time to answer and console those of us going through this.
    Reply to this
    1. 9/1/2013 4:58 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am glad you found this helpful and that Charley is doing so well.  Every time I see a sago palm for sale at a big box store I cringe.  I wish we they came with a warning label!
      Reply to this
  • 9/1/2013 5:28 PM Nancy wrote:
    I agree! Like I said earlier, I live in an area where they are everywhere!! Every time I look at one, I can feel my blood pressure go up!
    Reply to this
    1. 9/13/2013 7:40 PM Jackie wrote:
      How is Charlie doing?
      Reply to this
  • 9/13/2013 7:49 PM Jackie wrote:
    My 4month old Staffordshire bull terrier ate a seed 3.5 weeks ago. The day he ate the seed we took him to the vet and they kept him all day administrating fluids and meds. Sadly about 4/5 days ago we noticed that his stomach is very swollen. When we took him to the vet he said that he was in advance liver failure and he recommended putting him down. What's puzzling is that our dog is eating like crazy, using the bathroom and not very playful but playful. He walks and barks and seems okay other than his big belly. So putting him down was not an option at this point. His liver cells are high and the protein is low. S my question to you Dr.Nelson is, does my pup have a chance to bounce back from this? We are giving him denamain, milk thistle and sub Q 50cc 3times per day. I'd like to start him on artichoke extract and dandelion extract as well. Is there anything else you would recommended?
    Reply to this
    1. 9/13/2013 8:50 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I'm so sorry.  Given the swollen abdomen, it is likely to be the liver.  If that's true, the liver was probably effected by the sago palm.  It is hard to tell at this point if he will make it or not.  If he is not painful and otherwise doing well, then I would certainly give him a chance.  I like the drug regimen but have no experience with the artichoke and dandelion extracts.  Please do not give those without first consulting your attending veterinarian and a holistic veterinarian if yours does not have expertise in the field.  I wish both you and your dog the best of luck. 
      Reply to this
  • 9/14/2013 10:35 AM Mary wrote:
    Our two dogs, Charlie and Joey ate the inside part of a sago palm on September 1st while we were removing it unaware of the danger this palm presents. They were treated aggressively and when discharged two days later their numbers were normal and a little elevated. September 6th, the numbers were little changed ( in the 200's). Pups continued vomiting off and on and not much of an appetite. So we redid enzyme test and they had climbed to 1,000. They have been re-admitted to hospital and have ruled out pancreatitis. Today, after a day of treatments, their numbers have risen slightly. The vet consulted poison control and they say this is atypical and thought they had been re-exposed. They have not. Have you seen numbers be initially fine, decline a little only to rise dramatically? Charlie has bloody diarrhea. Both are playful and not lethargic. Needless to say, we are devastated and want them to have a fighting chance. They are both less than 2 years old. Any insight would be appreciated.
    Reply to this
    1. 9/15/2013 2:02 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am so sorry that your dogs have come in contact with this deadly plant.  I agree with Poison Control that this is not a typical presentation of sago palm ingestion.  Usually, they get sick right away and then slowly improve.  I think it was a good idea to test for pancreatitis.  Since you are certain that have not been exposed to sago palm again, I might consider an abdominal ultrasound and a bile acids test to check for liver function.  My best wishes to Charlie and Joey for a speedy recovery.   
      Reply to this
  • 9/14/2013 8:42 PM Jackie wrote:
    Thanks for your reply. What signs should I be looking for that would tell me he is getting better? Since he is a puppy he started out smallish when we bought him back from the vet his belly was at 21" circumference that was Thursday. Heis eating like he is starving and now his belly is at 23" circumference is stool when from black to normal brown color. It's not as hard but it's don't water. He walked about 1 1/2 blocks today at his choice. His eyes aren't yellow nor is his skin. I'm worried about the fluid, any recommendations?
    Reply to this
    1. 9/15/2013 2:06 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      A good appetite and lessening of the yellow color are good signs.  Unfortunately, the fluid accumulation in his abdomen concerns me.  I would record his weight and measure his abdomen every day and then report the results to your veterinarian.  If necessary, the fluid can be drained from the abdomen if it interferes with his breathing.  Good luck with him. 
      Reply to this
      1. 9/16/2013 11:43 AM Jackie wrote:
        Hello Dr.Nelson, we took Angus to the Vet today and they extracted 1.4 liters of fluid from his abdomen. The vet explained that this could either excellrate the process of the liver failing quicker or buy us some time for his liver to regenerate. He seems happier since the weight came off and he is even barking at our other dog. The vet did give him a diuretic. What's your opinion so far of the situation? Should he be worst off at this point is there any hope for him?
        Reply to this
        1. 9/20/2013 10:17 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          I apologize for the slow response.  I have been traveling with no time to log in.  I am sorry to tell you that fluid accumulation into the abdomen is a bad sign whether it is from R sides heart failure or liver disease.  But, you veterinarian is right that the liver is one of the few organs that can regenerate to a limited extent.  I would continue to drain Angus as needed to keep him comfortable and buy him time. As long as he feels good enough to bark at your other dog, I would continue to treat him.  Let Angus tell you when he has had enough.  Hope that helps, Dr. Nelson 
          Reply to this
          1. 10/5/2013 7:29 PM Jackie wrote:
            Hi Dr. Nelson, here is the latest update on Angus. He has released all his abdominal fluid. His ALKP was at 686, now its at 363,GGT was 14 and now it's 4, TP was at 4.1 and now its 4.3. Now that he has lost all his fluid he looks thin. I'm wondering if you know of anything that I can give him to improve his protein in take and beef him up. I'm currently cooking meals for him. I'm limiting him to white potato. sweet potato, zucchini, peas, brown rice, cod fish and ground chicken. I add a little garlic to keep the fleas away because we can't give him any flea pills at this time. He is still on the denamain & milk thistle ( this I add to his meals) and I started him on a dog multivitamin as well. He activity level is normal and he is growing; he even started teething and now has his permeant teeth in. Our Vet said that he would like to wait 2 to 3 months before he considers him out of the woods but he is certainly very impressed with his progress. In your opinion and experience, can we expect for him to recover since we have come this far? I know that the liver damage is unrepairable but, he can live a full life so long as part of his liver is functioning, correct? Looking forward to hearing from you.
            Reply to this
            1. 10/8/2013 5:16 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
              Wow, Angus has made great progress!  Your veterinarian is correct, that it will take some time to know if he has truly made it but his response is encouraging.  As for his diet, be very careful with protein.  Patients with liver problems are usually placed on high quality/protein restricted diet.  If you want to cook for him, I would recommend having a veterinary nutritionist formulate a diet for him.  The diet you are giving him might be defiance in key vitamins and minerals.  I am concerned that the ratio of calcium to phosphorous is off in your diet which could lead to growth problems.  Also, garlic is not recommended for dogs as it causes anemia.  In my experience, the anti-parasitic effect isn't that great anyway.  I have used prescription diets for patients with liver disease with great success if you get sick of cooking. 

              As for his long term prognosis, I think his odds of having a good quality life have dramatically improved now that the ascites is gone. Congrats on getting Angus this far.    

              Reply to this
  • 10/27/2013 9:31 AM Diana wrote:
    Hello Dr. Nelson. Our beagle, Apollo, got into a Sago palm root. When we noticed he had it we wrestled it away (unfortunately we didn't know it was poisonous) and he started vomiting uncontrollable an hour or two later. We looked it up online and found out how toxic it was and took him to the vet immediately. He received all the usual treatment, charcoal, IV, etc and was held over night. Last night and today his liver tests all seem to be normal. Aside from being tired he seems pretty normal. Do you think he might make it through this?
    Reply to this
    1. 10/27/2013 7:07 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I'm so sorry about Apollo.  I am encouraged by your quick response and the results thus far.  Unfortunately, the full extent of damage can take awhile to become know.  But, let's hope for the best.  All we can do at this point is hope for a good outcome and take heart in the early results.
      Reply to this
  • 1/14/2014 11:57 AM Nichole wrote:
    I wanted to know if swallowing the seeds whole will have the same affect as actually crunching up the seeds of the sago palm. Unfortunately, my puppy (12 weeks old) has ingested these seeds. When he began vomiting, I saw the seeds. I brought them with me and that is when my vet informed me of how toxic this plant is. I am just sick to my stomach and I cannot believe that I have done this to my puppy - Wilson. Right now I am waiting for his blood work but I was just hoping that he could have had less chance of the toxic properties if swallowed whole.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/17/2014 12:44 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I am sorry about your puppy. Unfortunately, the seeds are extremely toxic - chewed or not. I hope that he was able to vomit them up before he absorbed too much of the toxin. Hopefully, his blood results weren't too bad and he will respond well to supportive care. Please let me know how he is doing.
      Reply to this
  • 3/4/2014 3:19 PM Tammy wrote:
    Dr. Nelson,

    I just wanted to say that our mini dachshund Reeses is doing well a year later after eating part of a sago palm seed. She was only given a 5% chance to live because her blood work was so dismal. I know that the advice I received from you about contacting the office again for her vomiting probably saved her life. I think I had given up hope because I was so upset. So, thank you for your support and for your website. I am hoping that this message will encourage other pet owners who are heartbroken about their dog or cat ingesting this plant.
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  • 3/5/2014 1:44 PM Sally wrote:
    This past February, my 3 year old beagle ingested a few tiny bits of a sago frond. We saw him chewing on it and he was rushed to the vet but started throwing up on the way there. He threw up a total of five times and stayed at the vet with normal liver levels that day and came home that night. While at the vet they gave him some meds to calm his stomach down and we started him on daily denamarin.
    They tried to administer charcoal but he fought so much our vet gave up. In hindsight I worry that our vet's "give up" attitude may cost him his life. She didn't even try to administer the charcoal until hours later at my request. I feel like they should have tried anything....even forced the charcoal down by a gastric tube, that's what happens to humans who are poisoned!
    So we brought him home and he has been completely normal since....
    He got his levels tested a week after ingestion and everything was normal except for ALT at 420 and Albumin at 2.6 which was much lower than a week before. My vet basically tells me there is no hope and he is headed down a "bad path". I have decided to take him to do his three week post ingestion blood test at a different vet and want to start him on a prescription diet.
    My old vet said that a rx diet wouldn't make a difference, but I don't feel good about letting him just eat normally. He has not had any symptoms since the day of ingestion....other than the blood results. Does this sound like a lost cause?
    I am interested to see what the next vet says, but my original vet just really freaked me out. I will be heartbroken to lose him.....I am still holding out hope that he is one of the lucky few....I know there is no certain answer, I guess I am just looking for some comfort.
    Reply to this
    1. 3/8/2014 12:19 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      First, I am so sorry for both your dog and for you.  However, I believe it is premature at this stage to assume the worst.  On this blog you see posts from others who have made it.  I certainly do not wish to give false hope but it seems premature to say there is no hope.  Given that, starting on a prescription diet to help the liver does make sense to me. 

      Regarding the original treatment, I honestly don't know because I wasn't there.  In medicine we have to make tough judgment calls in the moment.  Anesthesia is not without it's own risks of course and that may have been the original veterinarian's thinking at the time.  But again, I wasn't there.

      I think this second opinion makes sense and as mentioned above, I fully support a more liver friendly prescription diet.  Please know you have my sincere best wishes.   

      Reply to this
      1. 3/10/2014 10:09 AM Sally wrote:
        Thank you so much for your response Dr. Nelson~
        Chewie's three week post ingestion blood results came back....his albumin is now at 3.8 (yay!), his ALT has gone down to 277 (better!) and his previosly elevated WBC is now back to normal, but his AST has gone up to 70(it was slightly elevated but within normal range at the one week blood test):-(

        I know we're not out of the woods yet but I feel like we can see a little bit of the clearing. This new vet seems to have seen much more of this kind of poisoning and was much more positive without giving false hope, which meant a lot.
        This seems like a step in the right direction, but is the rise in AST countering the rest of the better results?

        Reply to this
        1. 3/11/2014 7:54 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
          In my experience, it is not uncommon for AST to rise or remain high for several weeks post sago palm ingestion. I am very, very happy that the albumin is increasing. That means his liver is able to produce this important protein.  Although Chewie is not out of the woods yet, I would celebrate the rise in albumin. 
          Reply to this
        2. 3/11/2014 8:00 AM Tammy wrote:
          We went through this last year with our dachshund puppy. It is very hard, lots of ups and downs, but some dogs make it. Our doxie was only about 6 lbs when she ate the Sago seed and we were told that she would not make it. I don't think our vet was being unkind, but was trying to prepare us because her blood work was so out of the ballpark. But she defied all odds! It took about 4 months before our vet declared us out of the woods. That's the hard thing about this toxin, it takes a while to know what is going to happen. Just take it day by day and celebrate the small victories! We also prayed a lot :-) Also, we did put her on a liver supplement you can talk to your vet about called Denamarin.
          Reply to this
        3. 3/31/2014 2:21 PM Sally wrote:
          Well, we are officially over 6 weeks out and got Chewie's fourth blood test results....his ALT is 61, his AST is 33 and his albumin remains at 3.8:-)
          I was floored and am so thankful for these results. We will continue and finish off the Denamarin even though our vet said we could stop at this point, I feel better if we just keep going. I will definitely feel even better if we can keep these results 6 months out but it's a great start! There is hope! Thank you Dr. Nelson for having this forum out here, it has helped more than you can know just to be able to reach out to others.

          Prayers and best wishes to all who have gone through this and will go through this; it is a horrible experience to say the least.
          Reply to this
  • 3/21/2014 3:33 PM Greg wrote:
    I just wanted to let everyone know about our experience with sago palm seeds. Our 3 1/2 month old Boxer pup ingested several (like 20) coontie sago palm pods/seeds. We had these plants in our yard and did not know how deadly they are.
    After dinner one night our pup vomited and I saw several pods in her vomit. I immediately looked it up on line and saw how terrible these are. We induced vomiting at home with hydrogen peroxide and she vomited more seeds and also had a bowel movement with pods in the feces. We went to the emergency vet clinic and they administered activated charcoal and put her on an IV overnight along with anti-vomiting meds and liver support medicine. Her liver values were slightly elevated. The next morning she went to our family vet and her liver enzymes were normal. We continued her on liver support medicine. Her follow up blood work a week later indicated her ALT rose to about 350. We did a bile acid test the following week along with additional bloodwork. Her bile acid test was normal, but her ALT was still about 300 or so. We did another follow up blood test 2 weeks ago and today her liver enzyme levels are back to normal with slightly elevated glucose and phosphorus levels. We've kept her on the liver support medicine the entire time. Outside of the vomiting the night she ingested the sago palm seeds she has not had any clinical signs, has ate and drank normally and had a normal demeanor. We're 2 months into this and are confident she will make a full recovery, even after ingesting so many of these dangerous seeds. Perhaps her young age worked to her benefit, but there is hope after your dog ingests this plant. But as has been stated numerous times on this blog, these plants need to be labeled dangerous so they are aware of the risks these plants present to pets and children.
    Reply to this
  • 4/1/2014 3:46 PM Bethany wrote:
    My 11 month old Sheltie came in the house on 3/23/14 and started vomiting. I saw alot of white pieces which were hard. After checking the yard we found a fully intact sago palm seed so there had to have been at least 2 in the yard. (We do not have these plants in our yard mainly because they are so very toxic) My next door neighbor has 4 of them around her pool and two are seeding. Am assuming a squirrel brought them in our yard. Rushed her to emergency vet where they treated her that afternoon and overnight. I took her to my vet the next morning where she stayed for the day with an IV. She came home that night. My vet did bloodwork on the 25th and everything was fairly normal except ALT was 119; ALB was 3.3 and BUN was 17. We repeated the bloodwork on 3-28 and her ALT was 183 and ALB was the same at 3.3 BUN was 12. She is on Denamarin and Sucralfate. She is due to go back to recheck this week. Alot of the time she acts fairly normal but I am really stuggling to get her to eat. She started refusing her normal food or canned food. She did eat a little puppy food but now refuses that. She ate a little of my senior dogs food but won't eat that now. I cooked chicken thighs and rice. She ate that one day but now won't eat that. I am not sure what to do about her eating. It does not seem the Sucralfate is making any difference. And is it not alarming that her ALT went UP instead of staying down? I am just worried sick about her. I want to burn every sago in Houston.
    Reply to this
    1. 4/2/2014 5:05 AM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      I wish we could burn every sago palm in the U.S.! In my experience, it is common for the liver enzymes to increase for many days post exposure. It is quite possible that the ALT will be even higher on the next test because it takes awhile for the full extent of the damage to manifest. Having said that, I don't want to alarm you as your dog's ALT is only mildly elevated. Also, her albumin is still over 3.0 which is a good sign. I would recommend speaking with your veterinarian about giving your pet something for nausea to help her appetite. In my experience, it is normal for dogs with liver disease to pick at their food. Good luck with her!
      Reply to this
      1. 4/3/2014 3:59 PM Bethany wrote:
        Thank you! I go back in the morning to check her levels and if they are higher I won't be so shocked! I will post when I get them.
        Reply to this
      2. 4/3/2014 4:13 PM Bethany wrote:
        Dr. Nelson I just wanted to thank you for your help and this blog! It sure helps when you are going thru this and are so devestated.
        Reply to this
    2. 4/2/2014 6:15 AM Tammy wrote:

      Our dachshund ate a sago palm seed about a year ago. She also had blood work that would increase each time we went to the vet for a while. We had a hard time getting her to eat. I had to switch her food about every 2 days just to keep her interested. I also tried plain scrambled eggs. I did call the vet and they actually put her on a anti nausea med. and something over the counter like Pepcid. I would definitely call back and ask about other options. Even though my puppy's numbers were terribly elevated, she still is alive a year later. We also live in Houston and it was our neighbor's Sago that nearly killed our dog. Our neighbor said that they were getting rid of them, but they are still there. Too bad, they have 2 dogs--one is a puppy. Seems very foolish to me.
      Reply to this
  • 4/2/2014 10:26 AM Nancy wrote:
    I agree with you Bethany! After the scare of possibly losing my dog Charley almost 2 years ago, my blood pressure goes up every time I see one. I also live in Houston and they are everywhere.

    I just wanted to say, I have good news about Charley. She wasn't supposed to have lived a year after her encounter with a Sago Palm seed. They did a biopsy I believe and was in liver failure. She has had normal liver blood work for the last year and is now almost going to be treated like a normal dog. We are taking her off the Lactulose and Ursodiol, but she will stay on the Denamarin for life. She will also start a normal diet.

    None of the vets can believe it, but there is hope!
    Reply to this
    1. 4/3/2014 4:07 PM Bethany wrote:
      Tammy thank you so much for responding. This helps to hear of others experiences with this terrible plant. I will ask tomorrow for a different anti nausea med. I usually try 4 or 5 things before she will nibble on something. I know my neighbors are not going to remove their plants unfortunately. I am really glad your baby is doing well!
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    2. 4/3/2014 4:10 PM Bethany wrote:
      Nancy thanks so much for your story! So glad Charley (love that name for a girl) beat the odds. It sure makes me feel like it could be ok. I am going to post her numbers tomorrow after our vet visit. Thanks again!
      Reply to this
  • 4/4/2014 7:53 AM Sally wrote:
    Don't give up hope Bethany, my Chewie (funny, we are in Houston too, sagos EVERYWHERE here)just went through this too and his levels were more than triple the normal range at one point and they did finally come down after 6 weeks back to normal levels. Hope your baby starts feeling better soon!
    Reply to this
    1. 4/5/2014 4:21 PM Bethany wrote:
      Thank you Sally! Glad Chewie's levels are back to normal. Wow 6 weeks is a long time. I spend a large part of the day just trying to get Brecklyn to eat. This is so hard. And I am very paranoid! We found another seed in our yard today. I went in my neighbors backyard (that has 2 big plants seeding) and picked up over 70 seeds.
      Reply to this
  • 4/4/2014 10:18 AM Bethany wrote:
    I have just returned from my vet with Brecklyn and unfortunately her numbers are worse. Last week:
    ALKP 110
    ALT 183
    ALB 3.3
    BUN 12

    This week:
    ALKP 456
    ALT 543
    ALB 2.9
    BUN 19

    Sunday will be 2 weeks (seems like months) since she ingested the seed. The vet did give her a shot of Cerenia and sent her home with tablets for 5 more days for her nausea. Hopefully she will eat better. She has not lost a lot of weight which I would have thought she would have. They said to try and feed her in a couple of hours and if she didn't eat then I might want to bring her back for the afternoon for an IV for fluids. This is so hard and very scary not knowing what to expect. Any thoughts?
    Reply to this
    1. 4/4/2014 4:09 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      Hang in there! Brecklyn's lab results are what I expected at this point. As I said before, it takes awhile for the full extend of the damage to show on the lab work. Keep her well hydrated as your veterinarian recommends and be sure to give her the Cerenia as prescribed. I have had good luck with it.
      Reply to this
      1. 4/5/2014 4:26 PM Bethany wrote:
        Thank you Dr. Nelson. I was not able to get Brecklyn to eat all day yesterday but today I have gotten her to eat a few bites several times today. I think the Cerenia has helped. Hope this continues! Thanks for your support!
        Reply to this
  • 4/4/2014 4:21 PM Tammy wrote:
    I am so sorry to hear the news Bethany. Our dachshund Reeses had similar numbers 2 and 6 weeks from eating the Sago seed. It didn't start to improve until about 3 months after ingestion. I forgot to mention to you that we did offer meals more often throughout the day in hopes of her eating. It does seem like an eternity when you are going through it! I know that our vet said it causes them to have excessive acid in their stomachs, so that's why they don't eat well. Did you ask about trying Pepcid? That really did help with the nausea for our dog and then she started eating again. It still wasn't normal meals for about a month and probably took 6 weeks for it to be normal eating.
    Reply to this
  • 4/11/2014 9:22 AM Bethany wrote:
    Blood work today and the numbers went down some from last Friday.
    ALT went from 543 to 406
    ALKP went from 456 to 284
    ALB went from 2.9 to 3.0
    My vet was glad but seemed somewhat disappointed. I am not sure if he hoped it would be more or if this is telling him something else. Eating is still about the same. I have noticed she basically won't eat all day but in the evenings she will eat a little. Last night I offered her goat milk and she drank 1/3 of a cup. I offered her Esbilac Goat milk this morning and she drank it!
    Reply to this
    1. 4/11/2014 5:11 PM Dr Kris Nelson wrote:
      This is good news! I am especially happy about the albumin going up because it means the liver is functioning. Hang in there, she's through the worst part now.
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