Sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is a popular ornamental plant; however many are not aware of its toxicity in pets. A recent news article reported two dogs becoming seriously unwell following ingestion of king sago palm, with one dog sadly dying as a result of liver failure.

There are several toxins present in cycads rendering all parts of the plant toxic, but it is the seed kernels (also referred to as nuts) that are considered particularly toxic.

Clinical effects after ingestion include:

  • Acute gastrointestinal signs – these are more commonly seen in dogs after acute exposure, with vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and abdominal discomfort.
  • Neurotoxicity – this can also arise following acute ingestion, secondary to liver damage; signs include weakness, ataxia, coma and convulsions
  • Liver failure 

Treatment is recommended for any quantity. Prognosis in dogs treated soon after ingestion is good, but if the animal is showing signs then prognosis is guarded.