Toxicity of the Sago Palm in Dogs

Sago palm leaf

The sago palm plant (Cycas revoluta), a member of the Cycad genus, is commonly planted as an outdoor landscape plant in warmer climes. However, many pet owners are unaware that this genus of palm-like plants is very hazardous to both dogs and children.

Despite its origins in Southern Japan, this semi-tropical plant with seeds and cones is commonly accessible as a houseplant across the United States. Sago palm plants are frequently used in bonsai arrangements because to their slower growth rate, and many pet owners bring these plants into their homes without recognizing the hazards they pose to their four-legged pets.

Why Sago Palm Is Toxic to Dogs

All Cycad plants, including the sago palm, are exceedingly toxic. These plants include cycasin, a poisonous chemical that causes in animals, as well as a neurotoxic glycoside (or nerve-poisoning plant sugar) and a carcinogen.

Although some dogs like chewing on cycad plants, the leaves, trunk, roots, and seeds of the sago palm are exceedingly hazardous. Its growing leaves and crimson seeds are particularly deadly; in fact, even a single seed might be lethal to your cat. Unfortunately, the fatality rate of pets who have eaten the sago palm is thought to be as high as 50%.

How to Prevent Sago Palm Poisoning

Many dog owners are aware of foods that are harmful to dogs (such as or grapes), but they may not be aware of the risks of some plants—or the safest plants to cultivate around dogs. As a result, sago palm poisoning is becoming more common in dogs, cats, and even children. Larger animals, such as horses, sheep, and cattle, have also been injured by ingesting sago palms that have been planted as ornamental landscaping.

As a result, the easiest way to avoid sago palm poisoning is to avoid using this plant in either indoor or outdoor bonsai designs. These plants should be avoided by anybody with children, pets, or farm animals. You might also want to familiarize yourself with the plant's appearance so that you can warn neighbors about the dangers of sago if you see it in your neighborhood.

Always keep your dog leashed on walks, keep a tight check on them in the park, and make sure your backyard area is escape-proof so they don't come across and consume sago palm or other potentially fatal plants.

Symptoms of Sago Palm Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog ingests a piece of sago palm, you might expect symptoms to appear anywhere from minutes to many hours after the incident. The following are some of the first signs of sago plant poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Nose bleeds
  • Increased thirst and urination

Drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea are common symptoms of Cycasin poisoning because it irritates the gastrointestinal system. Although these symptoms may appear modest, if left untreated, they will almost likely result in liver failure. Initial symptoms can sometimes escalate to more severe illnesses like:

  • Fluid in the abdomen
  • Neurological symptoms (depression, walking in circles, paralysis, coma, seizures)
  • Black, tarry (or bloody) stools
  • Death

Treatment for Sago Palm Poisoning

You should contact your veterinarian, veterinary emergency clinic, or pet poison control center right away if you believe your dog has chewed on any part of a sago palm plant. Although survival chances are low due to the sago palm's severe toxicity—there is no antidote for sago palm poisons, just supportive therapy—the sooner your pet receives emergency treatment, the better. Many canines that had rapid emergency treatment for sago palm poisoning have recovered.

Because there is no particular test for sago plant poisoning, you'll need to be able to offer your veterinarian with specific details on the sago palm ingestion and the symptoms you've already seen in your dog.

The goal of sago palm poisoning therapy is to get the poison out of your pet's system as soon as feasible. To assist absorb the poison from inside the gastrointestinal system, your veterinarian will likely give your dog activated charcoal, as well as ipecac, apomorphine, or hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. They will also likely give your dog cathartic medicine to help them clear their intestines more quickly (a technique known as gastric lavage).

Supportive therapy, such as IV fluids, anti-seizure drugs, and any other measures essential to maintain their gastrointestinal tract, liver, and neurological system, will be required for dogs with sago palm poisoning. Antiemetic medicines and gastrointestinal protectants may be given to your pet to assist reduce vomiting and calm their irritable GI tract.

Extended hospital stays may be required to continue to cleanse your dog's body of toxins, manage their symptoms, and support liver function. Supplements like N-acetylcysteine, S-adenosylmethionine, or ursodeoxycholic acid can help your pet's liver, seizures can be controlled with seizure drugs, and bleeding can be reduced with Vitamin K.

Following your dog's release, you should plan follow-up appointments to check his or her using blood and urine tests.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


"Lal JJ. Sago palm. In: Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Elsevier; 2003:5035-5039." ;