Harper ingested just a little tiny bit of a that sago palm pup, which contains highly toxic seeds. Within an hour she began vomiting heavily, so we took her to the emergency vet clinic. There she received aggressive treatment, was given IV fluids and monitored closely. After three days of hospitalization, fluids, medication, tests and observation, Harper came home. Her blood work looked great and we thought she was in the clear.
However, three days later when Harper stopped eating and going to the bathroom, I brought her back to the vet to get more testing. Apparently the poison was still in her system and she had taken a major turn for the worse. Given how bad her blood work looked, we were told that Harper likely would not survive -- barring a miracle. We immediately put her on tons of medicines and a special supplement, gave her all the love we possibly could, and prayed for a miracle. I even made a bucket list for her so she would live out her last days having fun.
When she was still alive two weeks later, I brought her in again for more testing. Not only was there no improvement, but her bile acids had jumped to over 250. Normal is anything under 25. It was amazing that she was still alive given the severity of injury to her liver. Again we were told to keep doing what we were doing but not to expect her to make it through this. But about a week later, Harper began making some noticeable improvements. There was a definite change in her activity level and she became much more interested in food. After only having two bowel movements in the span of two weeks, she started having them daily. I didn't want to get my hopes up, but something about her just seemed different.
On June 27, just over five weeks from the original incident, we took Harper back for more testing. And to everyone's surprise, her levels were back to normal - including her bile acids which had dropped from +250 to 15. That was wonderful news; however, we learned soon after that Harper will live with complications from this incident for the rest of her life. After her liver values continued to fluctuate at her next few visits, we took her to a specialist for an ultrasound and then a liver biopsy. The liver biopsy determined she has developed chronic hepatitis from the incident. It is a mild case, but given how serious her injury had been, doctors can't really give us any promises about how her journey will go or how long she'll be able to fight this disease.
We manage it with six medications daily and a special hepatic diet. She'll need to return to her vet for blood work every three months and possibly have another liver biopsy in the future to reassess her condition. There are no guarantees of how long she’ll live with her diagnosis. The vets are hesitant to predict anything longer than 4-5 more years. They say to prepare for it to be less time than that as well. They just don't know with any certainty, as most cases of sago poisoning they have seen have ended in almost immediate death.
We are the lucky ones! So many others have lost their pets to sago poisoning. And the reason this continues to happen is because people just don't know that they are so dangerous, or don't take seriously just how deadly they can be when ingested by pets. Knowing what I know now, I can't believe how many sago palms are in residential neighborhoods. I ask that you PLEASE share Harper's story with your family and friends in hopes that it may save someone else from going through a terrible tragedy with a pet they love dearly.
For more information, please visit http://nomoresagopalms.weebly.com.