During the autumn and winter months, you will be seeing an abundance of twigs, leaves, nuts, and maybe even acorns littering the ground on some of your favorite walks and maybe in your garden. It’s completely natural for dogs to inspect and explore the world through their nose so coming across new things may spark a curiosity that leads them to cram something unfamiliar down.
So the answer to ‘can dogs eat acorns?’ and ‘are acorns poisonous to dogs?’ can be found below along with other useful information.
Are Acorns Poisonous to Dogs?
Unfortunately, acorns are toxic to dogs and can leave them quite unwell. The more acorns eaten, the more serious the issues will be and if left untreated can lead to death. It’s rare that acorns cause permanent damage as this only happens when dogs eat large amounts however it’s important to know that smaller dogs and puppies can be more vulnerable to acorn poisoning than larger dogs.
Why are Acorns Bad for them?
Oak trees are a species of tree known as Quercus and contain tannins which is a substance that’s dangerous to your dog. Since acorns and oak leaves derive from this species of tree they also contain the harmful component amongst other possible dangerous toxins.
What are Tannins?
Tannins are the compound that makes acorns toxic. Eating acorns in large amounts means that your dog’s stomach can be over-exposed to it which can lead to an upset stomach, or worse, kidney failure and even death. It is said that other compounds are also responsible, in conjunction with tannins, for the symptoms of oak poisoning such as gallic acid.
Acorn Caps And Oak Leaves
Acorn caps are not poisonous to dogs however they are considered sharp and can damage your dog’s throat or stomach. Oak leaves, on the other hand, are poisonous to dogs as they also contain the same toxic tannins as acorns.
Water Exposed To Oak
Leaves get whisked away when the wind picks up so it’s natural for them to make their way into ponds, streams, or other bodies of water. The gallic and tannic acids can contaminate water making it toxic to dogs who drink excessive amounts of the liquid, so if you have an outdoor water bowl for your dog, make sure to keep an eye on it and keep them away from any neighboring oak trees.
Different Species Of Acorns
All acorns contain tannins however they may have varying levels depending on where they derive from. For example, a red oak acorn has significantly more bitter tannins than a white oak acorn. So it doesn’t matter what oak tree they fall from, if your dog eats the acorns they can become ill.
Not only can acorns potentially cause liver or kidney damage but they can also cause a harmful intestinal obstruction if swallowed whole.
Signs of Obstruction –
- Pale gums
- Vomiting after eating or drinking
- Few or no bowel movements
If an obstruction is apparent a dog will need to see a vet immediately as they can be fatal. In severe cases, a dog may require surgery to remove the blockage however minor ones can sometimes be flushed out with continuous liquids.
Symptoms Of Acorn Poisoning
In some instances, where a dog eats large quantities of acorns, severe symptoms can occur and some of these may be very difficult to treat by a vet. It can often begin with abdominal pain that can then lead to more concerning symptoms. Below is a list of indicators that could help you identify Quercus poisoning.
Change In Appetite
When exposed to acorn toxicity this can lead to abdominal pain and, because of this, your dog may lose their appetite and become lethargic or fatigued as a result.
Vomiting and Diarrhea
These symptoms are classic signs of health concerns or digestive system distress and should not be ignored. If your dog vomits or defecates loose stools after eating you should seek the advice and attention of a vet to prevent further issues, especially if there is blood apparent. Excessive acorn ingestion can also leave a small dog or pup with HGE (explained below).
Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE)
Small dogs are likely to suffer from HGE after they ingest acorns. HGE is characterized as vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Dogs will initially experience stomach upset and pain accompanied by a decreased appetite before the more severe symptoms kick in. When caught quickly, HGE can be treated effectively by a vet although if left, it can lead to death.
Dehydration will occur if dogs go too long without food or water. It can also happen sooner if your dog regurgitates food or defecates loose stools frequently.
Severe cases: Kidney Failure/Liver Damage
These two things can only happen when acorns have been digested in excessive amounts. If problems with these organs become apparent your dog will show signs of increased thirst, lethargy, and dark and pungent urine. If your dog shows any of the symptoms above, a vet will often test to check their organs to be sure they are/aren’t affected.
When Will I Start to See Signs of Acorn Poisoning?
Depending on how much your dog ingested, you may start to see signs within a few hours. In less severe cases acorn toxicity may not be apparent for a few days although dogs may show some symptoms of abdominal pain or distress. A large dog can tolerate more tannic acid than a small dog and therefore may not show signs as quickly however that doesn’t mean that they won’t suffer. As soon as you see the slightest signs, talk to a vet, as you can prevent issues from spiraling.
If your dog ate an acorn, and it’s caused an obstruction, you may not see signs of this for 24-48 hours. In either instance, always seek immediate advice and attention from your vet.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Eaten Acorns
If you suspect your dog has eaten acorns it’s important to stay calm and don’t try to induce vomiting yourself in an attempt to regurgitate it/them. The first thing you would need to do is contact your vet and get them seen as soon as possible to prevent further harm.
You can also prevent your dog from eating acorns or other hazardous toxins left by an oak tree by making adjustments to your garden to make it safe for your dog to play and roam in. This will take some of the pressure off during the seasons where acorns fall within reach of your dog’s curious nose and mouth.
Can Dogs Eat Acorns? A Summary
Tannins are what make acorns dangerous to dogs so these nuts should be avoided. Often, dogs pick through autumn leaves as their curiosity can get the better of them and they will sometimes munch something down that flies under your radar. Dog owners are recommended to be a little more vigilant on winter walks so you can prevent your dogs eating acorns and potentially getting sick.