Sago Palms & Snake Bites: Two Winter Pet Hazards You Didn’t Know About

Due to the unseasonably warm winter thus far in South Carolina, some of the outdoor hazards that typically become a lesser concern in the cold winters continue to be causing illness in dogs and cats in our area. In addition to the typical holiday hazards, Kristin Welch, DVM, DACVECC (Emergency & Critical Care) of Charleston Veterinary Referral Center (CVRC) says pet owners should beware of the following outdoor hazards this holiday season:

  • Sago Palms – Looking around your neighborhood, you’re bound to see Sago Palms, or Cycads, utilized in the landscapes. Although these are hardy and attractive plants, many people are not aware that Sago Palms are extremely toxic to both dogs and cats. Ingestion of even two seeds can cause clinical signs of toxicity, although all parts of the plant are toxic to pets. Signs of toxicity include vomiting, loss of appetite and ultimately liver failure and bleeding. Seizures can also be seen. If your pet has ingested Sago Palm, contact your veterinarian or a veterinary emergency center immediately. Sago Palm toxicity is most successfully treated within 2-3 hours of ingestion, and untreated ingestion often results in liver failure and even death.
  • Snake Bites – Of the more than 120 species of snakes in the U.S., 20 are considered venomous. The venomous snakes of South Carolina include three species of Rattlesnakes, the Cottonmouth, the Copperhead and Coral Snake. Cats tend to be more resistant to snake venom and tend to suffer bites to their torso while dogs are most commonly bitten in their face, tongue, eyes and neck. Bites in these areas are more serious since the venom is often delivered directly into the victim’s bloodstream. Immediately after a snake bite, there’s no difference in the appearance of the bite wound if venom has been delivered or not, therefore seeking immediate veterinary care is crucial to your pet’s health.


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