Toxicology case: Jatropha multifida toxicosis in a dog


Toxicology case: Jatropha multifida toxicosis in a dog

A 4-year old 50-lb (22.7-kg) neutered male standard poodle was presented to an emergency clinic for evaluation of severe vomiting, anorexia, and lethargy that had progressively worsened over the preceding two days. The owner observed that the initial vomitus contained between 10 to 20 intact as well as chewed sections of an unknown type of large seed.

Initial conservative treatment at the pet's regular veterinarian included famotidine (20 mg orally every 24 hours), metronidazole (250 mg orally every 24 hours), sucralfate (1 g orally every 12 hours), and a bland diet. After eight hours, these treatments had failed to control the clinical signs, so the pet was referred to an emergency clinic for further diagnostic testing and treatment.


Upon arrival to the emergency clinic, the dog was lethargic and moderately dehydrated (estimated 7% to 8%). Jaundice was also noted by the emergency clinician. The jaundice as well as the previously noted emesis of an unknown seed led to a suspicion of sago palm (Cycas revoluta) toxicosis. While the dog was being treated, the owner was sent home to see if the dog could have had access to a sago palm and, if so, if the seeds matched the ones it had vomited earlier.

1 & 2: The dog’s owner took photos of the suspicious seeds and tree, later confirmed as Jatropha multifida. [Editors' note: Whoops! These are actually photos of Jatropha podagrica, not Jatropha multifida. The two species look a lot alike, and both have similar toxicology profiles. In this case, the owner was found to have both species of Jatropha in his yard. Jatropha multifida seeds were determined to be the mostly likely cause of the toxicosis in this dog.]
The owner did not find a sago palm on his property but did find several seeds in the yard that matched the ones found in the vomitus. Upon the advice of the emergency clinician, the owner contacted the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) for help identifying the seed and making recommendations for treatment. The owner provided pictures of the suspected tree (Figures 1 & 2), which allowed the identification and confirmation of Jatropha multifida (commonly known as physic nut, coral plant, or coral bush) as the source of the seeds.