Keep pets and livestock safe from sago palms and other toxic plants

April 18, 2024

There could be potential hazards lurking in your yard. Among the flora often included in Louisiana landscapes are toxic plants, such as thesago palm sago palm, as well as other popular plants like hydrangea, wisteria, foxglove, and more.

The sago palm of the cycad family is very popular with landscapers and homeowners in the Baton Rouge area. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that sago palm seeds, leaves, and roots are extremely toxic to pets. Clinicians at the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine regularly see dogs suffering from sago palm toxicity. Soon after eating seeds, leaves or roots, dogs start to throw up. Clinical signs then go on to include lethargy, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and jaundice. 

Ingestion of this plant can be fatal due to its toxic effects on the liver, including disruption in blood clotting leading to bleeding. LSU veterinarians see most cases in the spring and summer; however, intoxications can occur year-round. In most cases, intensive treatment is necessary, including intravenous fluids and transfusion of blood products. Despite these efforts, more than one half of dogs die from the toxicity. This is why in the case of sago palms an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure. 

Also, be aware that many other types of spring and summer foliage (such as hydrangea, wisteria, delphinium, foxglove, privet hedge and monkshood) can be toxic to pets as well, so do your best to prevent your pets from eating them.          

Many pesticides and lawn care products are potentially toxic to pets. Be sure to store these items where pets have no access to them.  After treating lawns and outside areas, restrict pets from these areas until exposure danger has passed.

Plants that are toxic to horses and livestock include senna (commonly known as sicklepod, coffee senna, coffee weed and cassia) and perilla mint (also known as purple mint). Symptoms of senna ingestion include diarrhea, wobbliness, weakness, and dark urine. Ruminants are primarily affected by ingesting perilla mint, and symptoms include respiratory distress.

Some Toxic Plants Found in Louisiana

If your pet or animal becomes sick or if you think that it may have ingested something harmful, contact your veterinarian immediately. Delays in seeking veterinary help may seriously complicate the problem. If your pet requires medical care after-hours, you can bring your pet to the LSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Skip Bertman Drive; the hospital is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. For pets (dogs, cats and exotics), please call 225-578-9600; for horses and livestock, please call 225-578-9500. Go to for more information about the Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

About LSU Vet Med: Bettering lives through education, public service, and discovery 

The LSU School of Veterinary Medicine is one of only 33 veterinary schools in the U.S. and the only one in Louisiana. LSU Vet Med is dedicated to improving and protecting the lives of animals and people through superior education, transformational research, and compassionate care. We teach. We heal. We discover. We protect.