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D2010-46

Dear Daisy Dog

Several sago palms grow in our yard. I know they’re dangerous, and I’m concerned because we just adopted a dog, a collie named Sable. Please tell me how toxic sago palms are and what part of the plant is poisonous. What should I do if I catch her chewing on a palm?

Daisy Responds

Sago palms grow well outdoors in warm climates and are prized as house plants elsewhere.

While all parts of the plant are toxic to pets and humans, the seeds contain the highest concentration of the poison, called cycasin. It’s so potent that just one seed can irreversibly damage the liver and kill a dog.

In a recent study of 45 dogs that ingested sago palms or seeds, 58 percent died.

If Sable nibbles a seed or any part of a sago palm and she’s still alert, induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide and get her to the veterinarian immediately. If you don’t see her indulge but she develops any of the clinical signs of cycasin poisoning –- loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain -– visit the vet right away.

Sago palms are related to false sago and fern palms. All contain the cycasin poison, so they’re referred to as cycad palms. If you’re uncertain about your other palms, do an Internet images search to determine whether they are cycads.

If they are, consider removing them along with your sago palms.

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