A seemingly innocent $5 house plant has caused a family devastation after their one-and-a-half year old French bulldog died because she ingested parts of it.
Lily got into her family’s sago palm early in May and spent a week at an emergency vet in Wisconsin, in the US, before being brought home to continue fighting for her life with a feeding tube and medication.
On May 16, the little pup took her final breaths in the arms of her owners, offering them “a couple of butt wiggles just before she couldn’t fight any longer”.
“We loved her so very much and gave her all the love and care in the weeks since the incident we could possibly give. We are truly devastated,” her owner Kate Wagner wrote in a post to Facebook.
She has now set about warning other dog owners of the poisonous plant, and has urged people to avoid buying them entirely or storing them far out of their pet’s reach.
Ms Wagner said the traumatic event could have been avoided had she done a quick online search when she was buying plants for inside her home.
“Every attending emergency vet said that the sago palm is very toxic and gave us grim odds from the start,” she told Yahoo News Australia.
“I would advise other pet owners that the resource is right at their fingertips as they browse the plant aisles.
“There is an extremely helpful tool on the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) website that could have saved Lily’s life—in hindsight, I wish I would have known.”
Ms Wagner said it was imperative pet owners made absolutely sure any indoor plants they brought home were placed in a secure location as “mischievous little paws may still get into trouble”.
Sadly Lily was not the first to be killed by the toxic plant, with a nine-month-old pup named Rocky suffering the same fate in Louisiana last year.
Injuries and deaths caused by the sago palm are also common in Australia, according to Sydney vet Simon Ilkin.
“It’s a surprisingly popular type of palm that we normally group into what we call cycads. We have seen many cases where dogs are nauseous and showing signs of liver failure,” Dr Ilkin told Yahoo News Australia.
He said fast detection of symptoms and a rapid detoxification treatment were the only ways owners could save their pet once they ingested the plant.
“The toxins are a nasty gut irritant, sometimes if we’re lucky the animal will have vomiting and diarrhoea which will work to purge it out of their system.
“We really worry when it has been absorbed and starts to cause things like neurological issues, clotting, spontaneous bleeding, jaundice, and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).”
He said the only certain way to avoid risk of a dog suffering from the effects of consuming the plant was to remove it from the home completely.
“I would get rid of it. They might be fine for 10 years but one day randomly decide to get into it. You never know with dogs because they will try and eat anything.”
“It’s not something that any dog owner would want to be picking up the pieces of.”
Sago palms are available in most Australian plant retailers including Bunnings and Flower Power.
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