Sago Palm Tree Toxicity
All parts of the tree are toxic, with the highest concentration of toxin in the seeds. 1-2 seeds can kill a dog.
Usually occur within 12 hours of ingesting the plant with initial signs including
- Diarrhoea (with or without blood)
- Abdominal pain
Often these symptoms can be managed with IV fluids and anti-convulscant therapy only to see severe liver failure develop a few days later
- Severe yellow gums (Jaundice) within 2-3 days
- Free fluid in the abdomen (Ascites)
- Blood clotting abnormalities - Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)
- Very high liver enzymes (ALT often over 10,000 units)
- Low blood glucose (Hypoglycaemia)
- Low blood protein levels (Hypoproteinaemia)
- Low white blood cell count (WBCC)
- Low platelet numbers (Thrombocytopaenia)
- Blood clotting deficits (Coagulopathy)
If not already vomiting, inducing vomiting can stil be effective up to 4-6 hour after eating the plant, as it is often still in the stomach.
Gastric lavage (stoamch pumping) is not too effective as the plant material is too big to fit down the tubes, but it is handy for placing activated charcoal directly into the stomach.
Watch for high blood sodium levels (hypernatraemia) as it causes large amounts of water to cross into the GIT so may see increased thirst (polydypsia). Good idea to get a baseline sodium level before treatment. Can rpt dose at 8 hours.
IV Fluids routinely
5% Dextrose is hepato-protectant
Antacids and protectants
e.g. H2 blockers, Sucrulfate
- Monitor liver enzymes, glucose, protein levels each day for 72 hours
- Monitor coagulation profile especially if high ALT and bruising occurs
Dilute with 5% Dextrose to a 5% IV solution (as irritates veins) at 140mg/kg initially then 70mg/kg
- Decreases entero-hepatic recirculation
- Is a cholesterol drug for humans
- Dose: 0.3-1gm/kg per os TID with food
- Is a very high dose compared to humans
- It binds bile acids and increases excretion
- Fresh plasma if coagulopathy
- Vitamin K if coagulopathy but watch for anaphylactic reactions
- Antibiotics if low WBCC
Despite all the best efforts at saving an affected dog, there is an overall 30-50% mortality.
It is very expensive to treat with blood transfusions, intensive care, laboratory tests and drugs.