A Sago Palm Tree Almost Killed My Parents’ Dog

Something crazy happened on Friday that I never would have expected. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I definitely wasn’t aware of the following hazard.

Sago Palm Trees Can Kill Pets and Poison Children

I had no clue. Sago palm trees are very poisonous to pets, especially dogs. They’re actually poisonous to humans as well to some degree. Sago palm trees contain cycasin, a poison that attacks the liver.

If it isn’t caught very early the dog has a very small chance of surviving.

How Did I Find Out Sago Palm Trees Are Poisonous?

Friday evening my mom sent me a message on the computer that their brand new dog, Sadie, had vomited eight times in a very short time period. She was really worried and called an emergency vet. They told her to monitor her and to come in if it got any worse.

After the call my mom investigated to see if she could figure out why her dog was vomiting so much. That’s when she remembered… She had cut the lower branches off of a sago palm tree earlier in the day and some seeds had fallen on the ground.

She connected the dots and realized that what the dog must have been chewing on in the yard were these seeds! There are bigger plum-like seeds and smaller nut-like seeds. She remembered hearing something about sago palms being extremely poisonous and immediately took her new dog Sadie to the emergency vet.

It turns out the seeds are the most poisonous part of the plants and it is a very good thing she started vomiting the seeds up. If she hadn’t the prognosis could have been much worse. Luckily my mom got her to the emergency vet quickly and it seems like she’ll be okay.

The good news is it sounds like Sadie will be just fine or may only have minor liver issues going forward. The bad news is the crazy treatment and the insane emergency vet bill.

The Crazy Treatment

When the dog arrived at the vet she had stopped vomiting but she was severely dehydrated and barely functioning at all. The vet had to put Sadie on an IV and give her fluids, an anti-nausea medication to prevent further vomiting, run blood panels to determine liver enzyme levels and coat her stomach and intestines with a charcoal product to prevent further absorption of the poison from the sago palm tree.

Her liver enzyme levels were above normal but not crazy high like they could have been. The vet had to keep her overnight for observation and said he may need to keep her for a couple days depending on how her liver enzyme levels were doing in another 24 hours. During this whole time she was on IV fluids from being so dehydrated.

The next morning Sadie was barking and eating again. Her second blood test for liver enzyme levels had started to come down and the vet released Sadie about 24 hours after she had arrived. Ready to hear what the range for the bill was?

The Vet Bill

You know the vet bill was expensive. It was Friday evening and all of the normal vets were closed. The only one open was an expensive emergency vet. The vet bill for this crazy and very much needed treatment was going to be somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500!!!

That is why it is so important to have an emergency fund. I’d even go as far to say that if you have a pet you might want to have a separate pet emergency fund.

My parents treat their dogs like children. Even though they had only had Sadie for a week or two there was no question on whether or not to take her to the emergency vet. They did the right thing and because of this she’s still with us today.

My Request to You

If you have a pet, please go on Google or to your vet and find out what is poisonous to your animals. We have a dog and a pet bird and you’d be surprised some of the things that will kill them. We definitely don’t have any sago palm trees and will not be planting any in the future.

My bird is a very fragile animal as well. We can’t burn candles because it will clog his tiny lungs and suffocate him. We have to be careful with non-stick pans because if we heat them up too hot it will create a gas that will kill him instantly. We have to keep his cage at a particular temperature and keep him away from drafts or he’ll quickly get sick and die.

Animals are awesome and bring great joy into the lives of their owners. Please be a responsible owner and know what can kill your pets. We’re definitely looking into this after what happened to Sadie and we don’t want it to happen to anyone else or their pets.

Do you have a pet? Have you ever heard of crazy things that are poisonous to pets? Ever had a close call?

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About Lance Cothern

Lance Cothern, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia, is the founder of Money Manifesto. You can read more about him here or connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.


  1. Oleanders are really common, but actually pretty poisonous. Same goes with Pointsettias at the holidays, too!

  2. We actually have 2 of those plants and I had no idea they were poisonous. Luckily our 2 plants are in our front garden and our dog lives in the back yard so hopefully the 2 shall never meet.

    Crazy scary though!

  3. The biggest source of toxic substances for your pets are houseplants, I’m not an expert but know that there is a pretty extensive list of plants that are toxic to dogs and cats. To make it a bit more complex, some plants that are toxic to dogs are not to cats and vice versa. If you don’t have pets, still be aware that houseplants can be highly poisonous to children too. If having a pet poisoned by a houseplant is catastrophic, having a child poisoned by one is horrible!

  4. Yikes! That had to be pretty scary for your mom…

    Fortunately, we’ve never had any issues like that. Our dog is very good with not eating things; the only real thing he enjoys is picking up sticks and running around with them. lol.

  5. Are the plants native to Florida? I am not aware of them in California. Sounds pretty scary.

  6. I have a Hahns Macaw and one thing I learned is that some non stick pans don’t have Teflon. The only ones I know of that are safe for birds are the pampered chef pans. I talked to a rep and they guaranteed that they are safe for birds bc they don’t contain Teflon. Interesting fact, or atleast I thought so!

  7. I knew that Sago palm seeds are very poisonous to dogs. Your mom was lucky that she figured out what Sadie had eaten and even more fortunate that the vet was able to help her. My friend’s dog died of Sago Palm poisoning despite every treatment they tried. Afterward, I heard that it is almost always fatal.

    Be aware that if you walk your dog, other people may have these palms in their yards as well! We also see them in parks and public places.

  8. Good advice. We have two cats and we keep them indoors, and in the 17 years I’ve been a cat owner, thankfully I’ve never inadvertently exposed them to anything that could poison them We do keep a handle on what plants get brought in because I know a lot of different plants can be toxic for them.

  9. They’re common plants because they look good in the garden.. We’ll just make sure that they pets won’t come near them.

  10. I’m always afraid my cat is going to eat something poisonous. He’s constantly chewing on anything in sight.

  11. I have a friend who’s dog sniffed or chewed on some sort of a plant during a stroll. Let’s just say a few thousand dollars later everything was back to normal.

  12. Scary stuff. Our dog has a bad habit of eating all things chocolate and coffee. we’ve been to the vet twice to induce vomitting, though our dog doesn’t seem to be affecting by anything she eats. I agree, learning about the environment and plants around you is VERY important, not just for the pets, buts for the kids as well.

  13. Wow, what a story. I am glad Sadie is ok.

    You really have to watch with plants. I heard defimbocias (spelling?) are toxic too. We don’t have any pets right now but if we get some down the road again, we will definitely pet proof the house first.

  14. What a misadventure!

    Walt the Greyhound (long passed to his Furry Maker, alas) once ate a bunch of the fruits of the yellow oleander. Total freakout on human’s part. He turned out to be OK with vet’s help but it was scary. In addition to household and garden plants, certain toads drawn to garden lights, and various other critters, several commonplace human foods are toxic to dogs,. These include onions (seriously so!), garlic, chocolate, coffee, among others.

    There’s a reason canaries were used in coal mines to warn miners of toxic gasses. Those birds are trying to tell us something about nonstick pans, candles, and other unlovely fumes we humans hardly even notice until it’s too late.

  15. My dog ate a sago palm a few weeks ago and had to be at the emergency vet hospital for 3 days = $2400 + several follow up vet appointments. She’s still not eating & will probably have to go back in & we do not know if she will make it. I cannot believe Lowe’s & Home Depot still sell these plants!!!!! Sickening.

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