Alfie, a cheeky little Cairn terrier, was rushed to Vetwest Whitfords recently with a sudden onset of vomiting.
Thankfully, Alfie's family were able to provide the veterinarian, Dr Vanessa Milborn, with some crucial information.
After removing a palm from their garden on the weekend, Alfie was seen chewing on a small part of it. The palm was thought to be a Sago palm or cycad. This type of palm contains a toxin called cycasin which is found in the seeds, fruit and base of the plant. The seeds contain the strongest toxin.
These plants are extremely toxic to dogs and can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, hind leg weakness, coma, bleeding and death due to liver failure.
Symptoms can start as early as 3 hours after ingestion but it can take up to 48 hours for abnormalities to show on a blood test. When ingested the toxin can affect 95% of cases and the death rate has been reported to be as high as 32%.
A prompt and proactive approach saved Alfie’s life, as many patients do not survive this illness. He was treated intensively in hospital for 6 days with intravenous fluids and supportive medication. On the first day of treatment his blood tests showed normal liver parameters. But the next day his levels started to rise rapidly alerting us to the fact that he was developing liver damage from the toxin.
Once Alfie was well enough to go home, he received 2 months of liver support medications and regular check ups until his blood tests finally normalised. Alfie is now a completely normal, healthy and happy little dog with a big personality!