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Ask the Vet: Sterilizing Pet Rabbits Has Medical and Behavioral Benefits

Dr. Lee Pickett on

Q: The big box store has a sale on sago palms, and I'm thinking of buying one for my living room. However, we have a new puppy that sometimes chews outdoor plants. Will it be a problem if he chews the sago palm?

A: Yes, a deadly problem, so don't buy this plant. The sago palm, also called a cycad palm, resembles a pineapple with large, thick, dark green spiked fronds growing from the top. These low-maintenance houseplants also thrive outdoors in warm climates.

All parts of the sago palm are poisonous -- even if the dog only chews the plant but doesn't swallow. The seeds are particularly toxic; eating just one seed has proven fatal.

Two poisons are most responsible for the sago palm's toxicity: cycasin, which causes liver failure and other gastrointestinal toxicity, and an amino acid called beta-methylamino-L-alanine, which damages the central nervous system.

Toxic signs include vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, loss of coordination, tremors, seizures and coma. Death occurs in up to half of patients, so immediate veterinary care is essential for any pet exposed to a sago palm.


So, say no to sago palms. Instead, choose pet-safe plants from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's website at


Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at

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