Cycads, or commonly known as Cica, Palma de Iglesia, or Palma de Sagú, are a small group of plants with many unique characteristics. Cycads have been around for more than 200 million years, even before dinosaurs roamed the earth. But unfortunately, they can be toxic to our pets in many cases. Stay to read about the toxicity of cica in animals, the symptoms of poisoning and its treatment.

What are the signs of cica poisoning?

The most common symptoms in dogs that ingest cica plants are gastrointestinal, liver, and neurological signs, causing vomiting (with or without blood), malaise, diarrhea (with or without blood), and anorexia.

All parts of the plant are toxic, but the seeds contain higher amounts of cycasin (a carcinogenic and neurotoxic glycoside) than other parts of the plant. Despite being highly toxic, the seeds and leaves are highly palatable to many animals, so dogs especially often choose to eat them if they are within reach.

Gastrointestinal signs can develop within 24 hours, however damage to other organs, such as the liver, may not be seen for the first 24 to 48 hours. The signs of poisoning can last from 24 hours to 10 days, so it is important to treat it.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Sagú Palm Poisoning

Cycad toxicosis is diagnosed by veterinary professionals based on a history of known and compatible clinical signs. Although toxins can be found in advanced blood diagnostics, currently no routine blood test can detect these compounds.

Treatment of cica toxicosis is symptomatic and supportive. That is, there is no antivenom available for any cycad toxin and it is based solely on supportive therapy.

To carry out the treatment, a gastric lavage or vomiting is usually performed as soon as possible after a suspected ingestion.

For an animal that has begun to show signs of gastrointestinal problems, sucralfate is often used. This oral medication works by lining the stomach and protecting it from bile acids, enzymes, and salts. If bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract is severe, blood transfusions may be necessary.

Supportive therapy should be maintained with sufficient fluids to ensure that the animal maintains hydration and help dilute the toxin, and blood glucose concentrations should also be closely monitored to ensure that the animal does not become hypoglycemic.

Continuous monitoring is required, since the animal can develop side effects compared to the medication, such as liver failure, coagulopathy, hepatic encephalopathy, hypoproteinemia or kidney failure.

A patient’s prognosis will always be good if veterinary intervention is sought immediately after ingestion of cica. However, if the patient has clinical signs, her prognosis is somewhat more reserved.

The best way to prevent scabies toxicity from your pet is to eliminate Sago Palm plants around your home or pets’ environment. And please, at the slightest suspicion that your pet has been in contact with this plant, seek urgent veterinary treatment to avoid further complications. For emergencies like this you can call us at 932 460 805.