Knowing the danger: Toxic plants in your backyard - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Knowing the danger: Toxic plants in your backyard

Sago Palm warning sticker (Source: WALB) Sago Palm warning sticker (Source: WALB)
Sago Palms are found in many South Georgia yards (Source: WALB) Sago Palms are found in many South Georgia yards (Source: WALB)
Sago Palm poisoning class are higher in children (Source: WALB) Sago Palm poisoning class are higher in children (Source: WALB)
Dogs who ingest Sago Palm are at risk of live failure and death (Source: WALB) Dogs who ingest Sago Palm are at risk of live failure and death (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

With spring in full bloom, it's the time of year when your children and pets love to play outside. But there could be dangers in your back yard you're not even aware of.

In South Georgia, you will find Sago Palms growing in many yards. The plants are becoming more popular now that large retailers are selling them. But buyer beware.

"I don't think there is 1 out of 100 people that knows that a Sago Palm is poisonous to animals and kids," says Mary Ann Brumfield with Hahira Nursery.

She says she gives fair warning to people considering purchasing poisonous plants like the Sago Palm.

"If they have an animal they need to be aware that any animal is going to chew. If it's a plant they'll chew it. So they have to be ware there is a danger if they want that plant," said Brumfield.

Close call to tragedy

WALB's Cade Fowler almost lost his 1-year-old Dachshund, Ellie, to a Sago Palm last year.

"When she came in she was very lethargic, collapsed, and she was vomiting some," said Dr. Doug Ruff with Hahira Veterinary Clinic.

With her liver failing, he quickly diagnosed her symptoms as Sago Palm poisoning. 

"We evacuated her stomach to remove the toxins and started her on an activated charcoal which helped to absorb toxins," said Ruff.

Ellie made a full recovery, but many dogs don't have the same outcome with up to a 50% mortality rate.

Do people know the dangers?

We checked with many local nurseries in South Georgia and many told they had not heard of the dangers or posted warnings on plants like the Sago Palm.

At big box retailer Home Depot, we did find large caution labels on Sago Palms and Oleanders warning of the dangers to humans and animals if consumed.

At Lowes we found a warning label posted on the price sticker of Sago Palms stating they was poisonous to pets. But parents should also be concerned.

"I honestly didn't even know children were allergic until you told me about that," said Katie Johnson.

The mother of a 1-year-old child, she now has an extra reason to keep watchful eye on her little one.

According to Georgia Poison Control, in 2016 they had nearly 4 times as many calls of children having consumed Sago Palm leaves or berries than pets. 

Brumfield says not enough is being done to warn buyers.

"There are tons of different plants that are poisonous to kids and poisonous to adults and poisonous to animals and they should all let people know when they buy them there is that danger," she said.

What can you do?

According to the ASPCA, Sago Palm ingestion in dogs and cats has risen over 200% in the past five years.

Symptoms of include weakness, vomiting, seizures and diarrhea.

Human consumption can cause liver failure and even death if not properly treated.

For sago palm owners, it's recommended you trim the plant and be aware the berries are also toxic if consumed.

If you suspect your child or pet has ingested a poisonous plant, get to a doctor or veterinarian as soon as possible.

You can also contact the Georgia Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

For a more in depth list of toxic plants and information, the PDF below was created by the UGA Extension Cooperation:

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