I recently read a post on Facebook that said a puppy had been rushed to the vet after ingesting an acorn. My first reaction was that the dog must have choked on it, but it turns out that the acorn had poisoned the puppy. I had never heard anything like this so I went on a search to find out if acorns are toxic for dogs.
I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.
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I was surprised to learn that Oak Trees are dangerous to dogs as well as other animals. The leaves and acorns contain a chemical called Quercitannic acid which is a form of tannic acid. Generally, the amount of leaves or acorns ingested in relation to the size of the dog, determines the amount of damage the toxins will do.
What happens if my dog eats Acorns or Oak Leaves?
If your dog consumes acorns or oak leaves, you may see varying signs of digestive upset. Here are some signs to look for:
NOTE: SEVERE POISONING COULD RESULT IN KIDNEY DAMAGE, LIVER DAMAGE AND POSSIBLY DEATH
These symptoms will usually occur within a few hours of consumption. Generally, a larger dog would have to consume a lot more than a small breed or puppy to develop severe symptoms. This is not to say that a large dog won’t develop severe symptoms. Should a large dog have a weaker digestive system, or an underlying medical condition, the reaction may be more severe than expected. It is important to monitor your dog’s symptoms closely. Should you see any new or worsening symptoms, you should relay this information to your vet immediately.
Can acorns hurt large dogs as well as small dogs?
A Great Dane or a Yorkie that consumes only one acorn, can develop some pretty significant medical issues. Even of the toxicity is very mild, your dog should be examined by a veterinarian. There are other concerns when it comes to ingesting acorns, beyond the toxicity.
If a dog swallows an acorn, it can be a choking hazard. Should the item become lodged in the throat in can obstruct the airway. If he cannot cough it up, or is not breathing at all you will have to perform the Heimlich Maneuver to remove it. I have attached a link to Texas A&M University of Veterinary Medicine which describes how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver on a dog in various positions. It is important to become familiar with these processes should you ever need to use them.
Blockage in the Intestinal Tract
An acorn does not break down easily. Similar to a corn cob or a small toy, the acorn can lodge itself in the intestinal tract. Once this happens, your dog will not be able to properly digest food. Sometimes it can take months for symptoms of blockage to develop. Once an object is lodged in the intestinal tract, surgery may be required to remove it.
How can I keep my dog from eating acorns?
The best form of prevention is to avoid contact with Oak trees while on walks or in your yard. If you have an Oak tree on your property, it may be a good idea to fence off the area around the tree where leaves or acorns may fall.
Another option would be to put your dog on a lead in the yard that keeps him out of reach of the tree.
The best idea would be to stay in the yard with your dog and observe his activities. While it’s good to let your dog sniff, you must make sure you can see everything he is sniffing and ensure he does not pick up any foreign objects.
Training your dog to “Drop it” and “Stop/Stay” will help if you are suddenly in a position where you are around an oak tree. If you are hiking, you may not know what trees are in the area. Teach your dog to respond to the stop command before he finds himself in a dangerous area. Responding to “drop it” for anything that he has scooped off of the ground will help to avoid swallowing dangerous items.
Keeping your dog on a leash in unfamiliar areas will help you to control where and what your dog investigates. You will see the oak trees or their droppings and you will be able to guide your dog away from any danger.
If you know that your dog has eaten any oak tree products, you should get him to the vet immediately. The veterinarian will advise you of the best course of action.