Pet owner's heartbreaking warning after popular garden plant kills dog

The sudden death of a family’s dog has sparked a serious warning to pet owners about a common, but highly toxic household plant.

After ingesting part of a sago palm, Nicole Lynn’s dog Rocky suffered such serious symptoms that he had to be put down.

The nine-month old pup was put to sleep last week following a period of excruciating abdominal pain as a result of consuming the “highly poisonous” plant.

Ms Lynn had just moved into a new home in Louisiana, United States, with the palm trees in the back yard, but didn’t realise how fatal they were until taking Rocky, who was lethargic and vomiting, to the vet.

“The vet asked us if we happened to have sago palm trees in our yard,” Ms Lynn wrote in a post to Facebook.

“We didn’t know but upon research both trees are indeed sago palms which happen to be highly poisonous to dogs.

Photo of Rocky who died after ingesting part of a highly toxic sago palm in Louisiana.
Rocky died after ingesting part of a highly toxic sago palm. Source: Facebook/Nicole Lynn

“The entire plant is poisonous and if ingested can be deadly.”

In a heartbreaking update to her post, Ms Lynn informed that the damage done to Rocky’s liver was irreversible and he could not be saved.

She urged others to check their own properties for the dangerous palm, which she said was also dangerous to cats.

“The plant is also poisonous to cats, so to my cat mums and dads out there, I’d advise if you can to just eliminate any sago palms on your property if possible it’s really just not worth the risk,” she wrote.

Dr Simon Ilkin at Kirrawee Vet in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire told Yahoo News Australia he had treated several dogs which had eaten part of a sago palm.

Photo of Rocky who suffered agonising symptoms and eventually died from ingesting sago palm.
Rocky suffered agonising symptoms and eventually died after ingesting a sago palm. Source: Facebook/Nicole Lynn

“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 said.

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).”

Dr Ilkin said the prognosis was dependent on how quickly the owner delivered the animal to the vet and how much of the toxin it consumed.

Photo of sago palms available from Australian retailers including Bunnings (left) and Flower Power (right).
Sago palms are available from Australian retailers including Bunnings (left) and Flower Power (right). Source: Bunnings/Flower Power

“We’ve seen at least six cases where the dog has clearly consumed a cycad, and several others where they have presented with some kind of toxin contamination.”

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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