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Sago Palms – Did you know they are toxic to pets..?

Sago Palms – Did you know they are toxic to pets..?

Also called cardboard palms, cycades, or zymias, Sago Palms are readily available in garden centres or in the garden sections of large DIY stores and supermarkets. But what you may not realise is that this potted plant is potentially lethal to your beloved pet.

All parts of the Sago Palm are poisonous, but the seeds (nuts) are the most toxic to our pets as they are easier for them to eat than the prickly fronds. The toxin in Sago Palms is called Cycasin and attacks the liver causing a broad range of symptoms.

The size of your pet (and the amount eaten) will influence the level of toxicity. For example, a small Yorkshire Terrier or a Cat will suffer more damage from eating 3 seeds than a large Labrador would. The current health of your pet will also be a major factor – a healthy 2 year old cat will likely recover better than a 12 year old cat that has a host of different medical issues.

However, regardless of size, age or health status of your pet, ingestion of any part of a Sago Palm is very dangerous.

Sagvo Palm

A Sago Palm

How will I know if my dog or cat has eaten Sago Palm?

Symptoms can be seen as quickly as 15 minutes after the plant has been eaten but in some cases can take several hours to develop. As with most toxins it is always advised to seek help from your vet as soon as you become aware that your dog or cat may have eaten this plant.

Cycasin irritates the Gastrointestinal Tract initially and therefore a reluctance to eat, vomiting, drooling are often early symptoms. Whilst these symptoms may seem minor if left untreated liver failure is imminent.

When the liver is incapacitated, other organ systems and bodily functions are affected. The blood does not clot normally, they may bleed both externally (nose bleeds, gum bleeds) and internally. Blood loss can lead to shock and death. Without the liver working to detoxify the blood of normal metabolic by-products, the central nervous system may be affected. Pets may become weak, wobbly, have muscle tremors, or full blown seizures.

Symptoms of Sago Palm (Cycasin) toxicity:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Blood in faeces (black tarry stool)
  • Nose bleeds
  • Lethargy
  • Yellowing of skin and gums
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Bruising
  • Neurological signs (depression, circling, paralysis, seizures, coma)


The list of symptoms is scary and rightly so. The degree of toxicity of Sago Palms is considered ‘severe’.


There is no easy way to diagnose Sago Palm toxicity. There is no test to identify cycasin in the blood and no specific liver evaluation that points to palm ingestion. Your vet will depend on you to help them help your pet.

History of exposure will often be the most helpful, so inform your vet about which plants you have in your home and be observant of any plants your dog pays particular interest to when out on walks.

When it comes to any poisons, quick treatment is vital. If you suspect or know for certain that your pet has eaten Sago Palm contact your vet as quickly as possible.


Other Common Houseplants that are toxic for pets:

  • Lilies
  • Amaryllis
  • Aphelandra
  • Azalea
  • Castor Oil Plant
  • Christmas Cherry
  • Cheese Plant
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Codiaeum Croton
  • Cyclamen Devil’s Ivy
  • Dieffenbachia
  • Dumb Cane
  • Elephant’s Ear
  • Mistletoe
  • Umbrella Plant
  • Zebra Plant
  • Poinsettia
  • Aloe