A woman ordered a popular garden plant from Groupon and it killed one of her dogs and left the second fighting for life.
Gill McClung, 47, paid £29.99 for two king sago palms without realising they contain a toxin that is highly-poisonous to animals.
The only warning on the packaging said ‘not for consumption, for decorative use’ and Gill put one in a pot in her garden and gave the second to a neighbour.
But it gave off an aroma that attracted both her dogs Harley, a three year-old border collier and Kruz, a husky aged six, who pulled it out and started eating it.
Both dogs fell seriously ill and Harley spent 10 days in agony before dying from liver failure. Kruz has survived after treatment.
Devastated Gill, a foster carer from Stroud, Glos., said: “I’m absolutely heartbroken, it’s a massive loss to me.
“He was a good dog, a real mummies boy. When other dogs were around he would always push through to get to me.”
She added: “You just don’t expect them to be poisonous.
“The labelling on the packaging said ‘not for consumption, for decorative use’ but it didn’t say anything about being toxic and the plant is not on the poisonous plants for dogs list.
“We think it was the smell of the plants that attracted the dogs to eat them. They give off an aroma and taste good to dogs.”
Kruz ate some parts of the plant but Harley ate the root which contains most of the poisonous toxin, cycasin.
Gill ordered the plants at the end of June and her dogs fell ill around July 10.
She said: “I got up the next morning and they were both really sick. I took them to the vet who did everything they could.
“They were both ill for several days and Harley was very subdued for a week.
“Kruz got better but Harley didn’t eat and I had him checked regularly by the vets who kept running liver function tests, which showed that his liver was failing.
“The vet thought Harley may have eaten the root of the plant, which is apparently more poisonous than the other parts of the plant.”
She added: “I want to make people aware that these are highly toxic plants. Before you buy any plants, do your research.
“What I really want if for the supplies to put a warning on it, even just a symbol of a dog with a cross through it.”
Vet Lourens Brand of the Bowbridge Veterinary Group confirmed that Harley died from cycasin and said he had never come across a case like it before.
A Groupon spokesman said: “We have lots of dog lovers here at Groupon and we’re very sorry to hear about this.
“We are looking into this with the merchant who supplied the product and also speaking directly to the customer.”
Gardening Express, who supplied the plants, said: “As dog lovers and owners, I must say how saddened we all were here to learn of the tragic death of Harley and we offer our deepest sympathy.
“Since learning of this event, we have started to work on collating data on plants that are or could be harmful to pets.
“We ship over 150,000 orders every year, and have supplied millions of plants over the years and we want to lead the industry on this.”
Both Groupon and Gardening Express have offered #50 to Gill but she has declined the offer.
King sago palms are native to Southern Japan and very popular ornamental plants.
They get their name from the whorled feathery leaves which grow from a rugged trunk.
They are among the oldest existing plants on Earth and are often called ‘living fossils’ as they have changed very little in the last 200 million years.
A 15-year-old plant will normally have a trunk with a 10″ – 14″ diameter and a leaf spread of 5ft – 6ft.