Monday, January 31, 2011

Warning: Sago Palm Plant May Be Deadly To Children And Pets

If you have small children or a family pet, you may want to read this. Scary.

A colleague of mine has recently reported that a decorative indoor Sago Palm plant, purchased at a Home Depot, was responsible for liver toxicity in a dog when the dog ate some of the plant's nuts. The vet bill exceeded $10,000.

Bad enough if you have a family pet. But the real shocker is that this plant is extremely poisonous to humans as well. Just google "sago palm toxicity" and you'll find lots of information, including this:

The plant is called a Sago Palm and its highly poisonous to both pets and humans. A chemical in the plant called cycasin is toxic and often causes permanent liver damage as well as neurological damage if enough of the poison is absorbed by the body. The seeds are the most poisonous part of the plant and the effects on humans are seizures, coma and death.

Of course you and I wouldn’t just yank off a chunk of this plant and gnaw on it but the seeds are colorful so if you have kids and Sago palm in your yard educate them on the danger or get rid of the plant.

Another article suggests that dogs are strangely attracted to this plant as well.
My colleague, Ray Critchett, poses a good question: "Should companies and stores who sell this plant be required to place a warning label on them to the effect that they are poisonous to pets and children?"

Those of us who have raised small children or have pets know that both can put things in their mouths or ingest anything within reach in a split second, even if closely watched. I recall, fondly now, our childrens' attempts as toddlers to eat the dog food in the bowl on the kitchen floor.

Dog food is one thing. A plant seed or nut that can kill children and pets is quite another. And from what I've read, there are little to no warnings accompanying these plants. This is stupid and irresponsible from both a safety AND a legal standpoint.

I can't imagine losing a child or the family dog over a simple plant in the corner of the room. So spread the word.


julie said...

i just put my police dog down as a result of this. she consumed seeds from a similar plant, the cardboard palm. we tried for a couple of months to treat her with medications and diet, but she began to suffer. the vet bills were also over $10,000. i had no idea the plant was poisonous. thank god one of my children didn't get into it.

Brian said...

So sorry to hear that as a certified dog lover myself (we rescued a mixed breed Shepard/Rot/ "Heinz 57" mutt that has been the most wonderful, smartest dog we have ever owned!). Please spread the word on this issue. No decorative plant is worth losing a single dog, much less a precious child, over. Thanks for your comments.

julie said...

i'll do my best to spread the word. i want to check the little cards on the plants at home depot and lowes. i'm pretty sure they have no warning. if they don't i may try to contact one of their mucky mucks to see if things can change. thanks for posting, i was sad to see that i was not alone.