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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Post #19: PD The Miracle Dog

I often refer to PD as our “miracle dog.”  He has survived a number of illnesses that should have killed him, but didn’t.  His first week with us was touch and go as PD battled vomiting and diarrhea to the point of bloody stools.  But, he got past that and continued to grow and to thrive.

His next survival story happened when PD was about three months old.  Wife and I were in the habit of taking him for a walk to the end of the block.  He was still quite little, and so a walk from our corner to the other and back was a really big adventure.  We would usually start these walks by letting him nose around the trees and grass in our yard.  We hoped he take care of his business in our lawn so we wouldn’t have to stop to pick it up in someone else’s.

On this day, PD began sniffing around our Sago Palm plant.  He picked up one of the large seeds and began chewing on it.  He looked kinda cute with that big palm seed in his mouth.  He carried the palm seed with him on the walk, and ate most of it.  We didn’t give the incident much thought.

About thirty minutes later, PD began vomiting.  He continued to vomit until there was nothing coming up but foam.  It was after 6:00 in the evening, and our vet was closed for the day.  We were scared.

I started searching online for help.  I learned that Sago Palms are poisonous to dogs.  And I learned that there was a Pet Poison Helpline (PPH)!  PPH had a veterinary hot-line that I could access for $35.  I called! 

I talked to a tech and explained what was happening.  She consulted with the on-call vet.  The tech came back on the phone and advised me to get PD to the nearest pet hospital as soon as possible.  Sago Palms can be deadly, and I had little time to spare.  Every minute would count against PD’s life. 

The nearest emergency vet was 45 minutes away.  We loaded PD into the car and headed for Corpus Christi, breaking a few speed limit laws on the way.  A few?  Probably all of them.

The hospital took PD in, put him on an IV and did whatever they could to try to detoxify PD and keep him alive.  In the meantime, they sent us home.  That was a very long drive home.  And it was a very long night.

We drove back to the hospital the next morning, scared but always hopeful.  PD had survived.  They brought him out to us, and he had a green elastic bandage around one arm, where the IV had been.  The vet told us that we were very lucky.  It helped that PD had started vomiting as early as he did, and was able to empty his stomach.  We were told that the poison is hard on the liver and kidneys, but they did not think there was any permanent damage to those organs.
      (The Sago Palm is pictured here, partially hidden by the car)
This is what I learned from the Pet Poison Helpline: The seed of the Sago Palm is considered to be the most toxic part of the Sago Palm.  Often, symptoms will begin within 15 minutes of consumption, but may be delayed for several hours.  Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of motor control and seizures. Severe liver failure can happen within two or three days.  Treatment is recommended to be aggressive and should involve decontamination.  The survival rate is about 50% with aggressive decontamination.


Sago Palms are beautiful plants and are apparently quite valuable, especially ones of the size we had.  We decided that PD is more valuable to us than the plant.  The plant was dug up and given away shortly after our close call.