Are Acorns Toxic for Dogs?

If your dog consumes acorns or oak leaves, you may see varying signs of digestive upset. Here are some signs to look for:

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.

 This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

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.

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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:

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.
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.

Vomiting

Diarrhea

Weakness/Fatigue

Stomach Pain

Gagging

Unexplained drooling

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. 

Choking

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.

Texas A&M University of Veterinary Medicine: Heimlich Maneuver

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 its 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 or to drop 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. 

Sources:

https://www.banfield.com/pet-healthcare/additional-resources/ask-a-vet/is-it-harmful-for-my-dog-to#:~:text=Is%20it%20harmful%20for%20my%20dog%20to%20eat%20acorns%20that,internal%20damage%2C%20and%20kidney%20disease

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3276711/Acorns-deadly-dogs-vets-warned-Harmless-looking-nuts-make-pets-seriously-ill-kill.html

https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/acorns-and-dogs/

https://inexpensivetreecare.com/blog/trees-may-toxic-pets/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3276711/Acorns-deadly-dogs-vets-warned-Harmless-looking-nuts-make-pets-seriously-ill-kill.html

https://www.petmd.com/dog/emergency/common-emergencies/e_dg_swallowed_objects

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Stay Safe While Walking Your Dog

Remember, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not going to be able to properly care for our pets.

Now that we have chosen the appropriate harness and leash for our pups, we have made sure that their paws are protected from the elements and we have found the best winter and rain coats to be sure they are comfortable while outside walking or playing, it’s time to make sure we are prepared as well. We all do everything in our power to keep our doggos protected and safe while we are on our walks, but we don’t always think about ourselves. Remember, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we are not going to be able to properly care for our pets. If we slip and fall, suffer from heat stroke or get frost bite, we are not going to be of any value to them, and could actually put them in danger if we were to lose control of the leash. It’s important to stay safe while walking your dog.

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This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Last year was a particularly cold and snowy winter. This made for great adventures while walking with my clients. They loved to play and run in the white stuff, but the sidewalks and park paths were never free of ice. Sometimes it was black ice, or hidden below a layer of snow. This left me vulnerable to falling, which I did – several times! Some of these falls put not only me in jeopardy, but after the fact, I realized that the dog could have been as well.

“…she fell on a patch of ice and hit her head on the ground. She was unconscious for several minutes and the dog stayed with her.”

One incident that was cause for concern was when I fell forward toward a driveway entrance. Fortunately, the Golden Retriever I was walking was on a long lead so he was well past the area where a car might drive. I did drop the lead when I hit the ground. Not only did I land in a very precarious position with regard to traffic, but if it had been a dog who was a runner, he might have bolted.

Coincidently, he was walking with his owner a few weeks later, when she fell on a patch of ice and hit her head on the ground. She was unconscious for several minutes and the dog stayed with her. Again, a dog who is a flight risk could have been long gone.

Why am I telling you these stories? To demonstrate the importance of safe walking practices. While all accidents are not 100% preventable, we should do our best to reduce the risk.

How to dress in winter:

If you are out in the colder months, check the weather before going out. Wearing appropriate jackets, hats, gloves and boots will help you to be comfortable. This will also allow you to enjoy your walk as well as focus on your dog’s needs.

If there is snow or ice, I would highly recommend spikes for the bottom of your boots. I have been using a pair this year and the stability while walking has kept me upright. They provide traction when you walk on slippery surfaces. Although they do not completely prevent falls, they have made a significant difference to the way I walk. In addition to preventing slips and falls, they have kept me from tensing up. This has helped to reduce sore muscles and back pain.

Always wear something bright colored and/or reflective. In the shorter days of winter, you will likely be walking at dawn, dusk or in complete darkness. Wearing reflective jackets or vests will ensure that you are visible when crossing streets or walking along roadsides. A reflective vest, leash or flashing collar will make sure your dog is visible as well.

The Best Hot Weather Clothing and Accessories:

Aside from wearing cool and comfortable attire when outside in summer, you should be sure to wear a hat. Keeping the hot sun from beating down on your head will prevent heat stroke. Heat stroke can cause dizziness and weakness which could result in passing out. Again, this leaves your dog unattended and vulnerable.

Wear proper walking shoes. Flip flops and sandals will not support your feet and ankles properly and could cause permanent damage. If you step on uneven terrain you can easily slip off a sandal or flip flop causing you to fall. You could also wind up spraining or breaking your ankle rendering you useless for doggy walks over the next several days or weeks.

Carrying and consuming water is as important for you as it is for your doggo, as maintaining hydration is another key factor in preventing heat stroke.

Wear sunblock. Though this will not prevent any sudden issues while on a walk, if you get a nasty sunburn, you are not going to want to walk tomorrow, and your pup will not get his proper exercise.

Rain Gear:

Many people ask me if I have my umbrella on rainy days. Truthfully, I try to avoid carrying an umbrella. Because I have one hand on the leash, I need the other free to pick up poop, clean burrs off of fur or remove mud or pine needles from paw pads. Carrying an umbrella can be a hindrance. I opt for a hooded cape or raincoat with a rain hat to keep me warm and dry. They usually come in bright colors, so they cover the visibility issue on foggy, misty, rainy days.

Be prepared:

Always carry a flashlight when walking on particularly cloudy days or in the dark. This not only makes you more visible, but it can protect you and your pup from coyotes or any other animals that may pose a threat. If your area is known to have a strong presence of a specific wild animal, learn all safety and protective measures to keep you and your pup safe from attacks.

When you are on an airplane, the flight attendant always tells you to use the mask first. If you are not safe, your partner or child isn’t either. It is the same with walking our pets. Make sure you are protected so that you can keep them as safe as possible.

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