Pet owners sound alarm on poisonous plant that nearly killed dog

SAN DIEGO - A couple who nearly lost their dog after she ate a poisonous palm plant is sounding the alarm about the danger to other pet owners.

"It was very scary. It was almost like losing a kid," said Mitchell Woolsey of San Marcos.

IMAGES: Common plants toxic to pets

Woolsey's 14-month-old Jack Russle Terrier and Beagle mix, Lily, ate part of a sago palm plant and started acting lethargic.

The Woolsey's rushed Lily to an emergency animal clinic where she stayed for three days..

"They basically told us this is deadly," said Woolsey.

Woolsey was told if they would have waited, the dog's liver would have failed.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website lists all parts of the sago palm plant as poisonous, but the seeds or nuts contain the largest amount of toxin.

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Dr. Trevor Garb of the Pet Emergency and Specialty Center told Team 10 they treat dogs like Lilly several times a week.

Garb said most owners don't know how deadly the sago palm plant can be.

"It's one of those things where the toxicity isn't well advertised so a lot of people don't know about it," said Dr. Garb.

Nurseries are not required by law to disclose the dangers of sago palms.

Team 10 went to four different nurseries to see what employees would say when asked if these plants are dangerous to kids and pets.

Woolsey  is removing all the sago palm plants from his yard.

"It almost killed our puppy, I don't want to take that chance again," said Woolsey.

Miramar Wholesale Nurseries said, "We don't sell to the public … as a member of the community … we will look into it and post those plants that are considered dangerous to pets on our website."

City Farmers Nursery said "We've talked with our staff and are adding a 'What not to plant around pets' information in store and online. Thank you for your prompt reply and for your excellent coverage of an important topic. Sago palms are not tue palms, they are part of the Cyad family and contain cycasin, which is what can be toxic to pets. It's important to note that other true palms are not poisonous. Since there are different varieties of sago palms, we welcome pet owners questioning their palms to bring a photo of their palm into the nursery and we'll help you diagnose if it is one of the many varieties of sago palm."

Home Depot spokesman Stephen Holmes issued this statement: "I can assure you that the safety of our customers is extremely important to us. And although this is not included in our training, our tags on Sago Palms and other ornamental plants include a warning that they're not for human consumption. Regardless, it's always best to assume that any plant not specifically sold as food should not be eaten by humans or pets."

Lowes said they would provide Team 10 with a statement, but did not after several emails to their corporate office.

(Team 10 thanks the San Diego Veterinary Medical Association for finding veterinarian volunteers for the Hotline that ran on 10News Thursday evening. And Team 10 also thanks the veterinarians who took the time to answer viewer questions.)



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