A FEW DAYS ago I received a call from a devastated customer advising me that their little DA dachshund Lola, just one year old, had died suddenly over the weekend.
The symptoms were their beloved dachshund went limp and they rushed her to the vets where she arrived in a critical condition.
She was placed on a drip and blood was drawn for testing. The cause at this stage was thought to be either snake bite or poisoning through ingestion.
Blood results ruled out rat poisoning and snake bite.
X rays revealed liver damage that was so serious in such a short time that the vets had one conclusion: plant poisoning by the Cycad family of plants.
As it turns out, Lola had been digging away in the family garden in the days prior – as puppies will do.
Lola’s owners, like most of us, had no idea these plants were toxic to dogs. They are a common garden plant in contemporary gardens. Lola’s owners had another pet dog living there for seven years without incidence and had no reason to suspect their dachshund was in danger.
(Left) Cycad, also known as Sago Palm, is highly toxic to dogs
Speaking to the danger of Cycads to the family pet, Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) President Dr Paula Parker said: “Cycads or ‘Sago palms have become quite popular. They are hardy, suitable for the less successful gardeners out there, and can seem like a good idea. However, they are extremely toxic to our pets. In fact, all parts of the Cycad plant including the seeds, roots and leaves are toxic to animals.”
The toxins in Cycads are quick and deadly and they wreak havoc on the liver.
“Recently, I saw three dogs from the same family poisoned by Cycad plants. They had moved to a new property and were removing plants from the backyard. In the process, the Cycad plants were disturbed, and the dogs started playing with the roots.
“Their owners brought them into the veterinary clinic later that afternoon when they started to vomit. Even after just a few short hours we could detect signs of liver damage.
“Cycad toxicity is highly fatal. Thankfully, with intensive treatment, two of the dogs pulled through. Unfortunately, the most mischievous of their clan didn’t make it. Despite all of our efforts, over the next 12 hours his liver went into failure before our eyes,” Dr Parker said.
As Lola’s owners tragically found, Cycad poisoning is quick, devastating and deadly.
“It is extremely important that pet owners do not have Cycad plants in their pet’s environment and if they do, owners must ensure that all parts of the plant are removed and the area is cleaned” she said.
(Far left, Left) Cycads, or Sago Palms, are commonly seen in contemporary gardens
Some other plants that are known to be toxic to animals include:
- English ivy
If you are concerned that your dog might have ingested Cycad plants, or any other toxic plants, it is essential to seek veterinary help immediately.