Many dog owners know there are plants and foods that can make their pets sick or even kill them. But there is another dangerous item that most dog lovers and other pet owners do not know about. In fact, in South Carolina it is top reason for calls to Animal Poison Control.
The culprit is the Sago Palm – an everyday plant that grows in homes across America.
Veterinarians say that just a small bite of the Sago Palm can kill a pet.
“Many pet owners don’t know that these can actually be toxic to their dogs and cats,” Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center, told ABC News. “One or two seeds is enough to kill a dog, or even a child.”
The Sago Palm’s popularity has become a fixture in many backyards during the last decade.
“Now you can actually go to your local store or nursery and buy Sago Palms as little potted house plants,” Wismer said. “Many pet owners don’t know that these can actually be toxic to their dogs and cats.”
Tiffany and Taylor Smith, of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, say they lost a piece of their heart when their 4-year-old bulldog, Walter, died just two days before Christmas Day in 2014.
“We never knew what happened to Walter,” Taylor Smith said. “The doctor gave us all kinds of different answers. None of them ever made sense.”
But it all made sense when history repeated itself with their new puppy, Wilbur, who suffered seizures just hours after they saw him chewing on a Sago Palm plant.
Right away Taylor Smith searched Google for the plant.
“And the first thing I saw was, poison control and emergency vet,” Smith said.
The Smiths took their dog to the emergency room, where they were given frightening news.
“The veterinarian came in and he said ‘he has a fifty-fifty chance,'” Tiffany Smith said. “He was already in stage-three liver failure.”
This time, their dog survived. But the Smiths said it was one of the most difficult things they’ve ever dealt with.
“It’s like losing a family member or a child,” Taylor Smith said.
Over the last 10 years, more than 1,400 dogs have been poisoned by Sago Palms, according to the ASPCA. Thirty-four of the dogs died.
“The fronds and the bark and the roots, all of it is toxic,” Wismer said.
People also get sick, with at least 130 human cases of Sago Palm poisoning being reported in the U.S. since 2009. Children under 5 were more than 25% of cases reported in Florida alone.
Surprisingly, there’s no U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission Regulation in place requiring warning labels on house plants. Apparently, no federal agency is responsible for warning pet owners about this plant. Warning labels are left entirely to store discretion, so buyers need to beware.
“We have to be able to protect ourselves and our pets by knowing what we’re bringing into the house,” Wismer said.
Taylor Smith offered the following advice to Sago Palm owners.
“Remove the plants. Take them out of your yard, out of your house,” he said. “They are not worth it.”
Heartbroken After A Poisonous Plant Kills His Beloved Dog – A News Anchor Speaks Out
Most pet lovers see their animals as family members, and therefore, when something happens to one of them, it really hurts.
Michael Garafalo, a news anchor in San Antonio, experienced the unthinkable after a Sago Palm that had sat in his backyard for years, caused the death of his beloved dog Kaia.
A SAWS worker inspecting our sprinkler system came out of our yard to tell me that our two dogs were chewing the Sago Palm, and that the plant was extremely toxic. Once I got to the backyard, I realized Kaia, our yellow lab looked very ill. But Teddy, our teacup poodle, looked fine.
We raced Kaia to the vet, and as we were on our way to a second one that could treat her, she passed away.
It was horrible. Kaia was a member of our family and the News 4 family. Before News 4 moved to the Babcock location, Kaia used to come to work with me pretty frequently. And she would just lie behind the anchor desk during the newscast, not making a sound.
I know I am biased, but she truly was a special dog. She didn’t bark, she didn’t chew stuff and she didn’t go the bathroom in the house. Thanks to the training she got from an Orlando, Florida police dog trainer, I could run with her and not even hold her leash. She would stay by my left ankle, never leaving my side.
Mr. Garafalo’s research into the Sago Palm showed that the entire plant is poisonous to pets especially dogs. Survival rate after chewing or eating the plant is just 30-50%.
Getting a pet to a vet immediately is your top priority, and it is probably their only chance of survival.
“Clearly, if I had known of the plant’s toxicity, I would have removed it the day I moved into our house.”
Hopefully this cautionary tale will inform and educate others, so that what happened to Kaia does not happen to their dog.
An Increasingly Popular Plan You Probably Have In Your Garden That Can Kill Your Dog
Warning! You may own a Sago Palm – but if you also own a dog or other pet, you need to be aware that Sago Palms can be fatal if consumed by pets or small children. In South Carolina it is the most reported call to Animal Poison Control in South Carolina.
A single bite can be deadly, however many dog owners don’t know this. As little as 1-2 seeds are enough to kill a dog or toddler.
All parts of the plant are toxic to pets, however, the seeds pose the greatest danger. If you happen to have a Sago Palm develop awareness. If you notice your dog is vomiting, or experiencing diarrhea and lethargy, followed perhaps by seizures or tremors, call a vet right away. Unfortunately, even speedy and aggressive treatment, usually result in only a 50% survival rate.
“Now you can actually go to your local store or nursery and buy Sago Palms as little potted houseplants,” Dr. Wismer told ABC News. “Many pet owners don’t know that these can actually be toxic to their dogs and cats.”
They’re an especially well-liked landscaping option in Southern states in the US because they thrive in warm climates, require minimal maintenance, and they’re affordable.
In the past 10 years, the plant has poisoned 1,400 dogs, according to the ASPCA. And here’s what may be the scariest news: Retailers are not required to label plants or notify consumers that the palms are toxic when consumed.