Can Dogs Eat Acorns Safely?

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No, dogs cannot eat acorns safely, not that you would give your dog acorns to eat. However, their inborn curiosity will always have our canine companions inspect every inch of their surroundings. Oak trees drop their nuts, or acorns, in copious amounts each fall. Acorns and oak leaves covering vast amounts of ground space are part of the autumn beauty each year.

Acorns can be a temptation for dogs whose inquisitive natures and love of exploring their surroundings through their noses and mouths. However, acorns pose different dangers to dogs, and if you suspect your precious pooch ingested an acorn, you should contact your DVM as soon as possible.

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What Makes Acorns Dangerous for Dogs?

Acorns contain a poisonous compound gallotannin. Their size is small enough to pose a choking hazard or risk of intestinal obstruction. Oak leaves contain the same compound and are toxic for dogs. The fact that green acorns contain more gallotannin than ripe, brown acorns is noteworthy.

Acorns harm your dog’s health in the following ways:

Toxic hazard:  Acorns contain a toxic tannin compound, gallotannin. It poses a significant risk if ingested. Gallotannin poisoning can cause an upset stomach, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea. Ingesting large amounts of acorns can cause Quercus poisoning or toxicosis, or oak poisoning, which could cause permanent liver damage, kidney damage, kidney failure, or death. The size of the dog plays a significant role. While one acorn can cause oak poisoning in a miniature or very small dog, it may pass straight through a large dog’s digestive system without causing harm.

Choking: The small size of acorns makes it easy for dogs to swallow whole. They pose a significant risk of choking in smaller dogs, preventing breathing. While a small breed dog could choke to death, large dogs may swallow acorns without problems.

Intestinal obstruction: Even if your large dog swallows the acorn in one piece, it could become trapped in the dog’s intestines. An intestinal blockage or tears could put the dog’s life at risk.

Does the Number of Acorns Ingested Matter?

Yes, the number of acorns ingested can make a difference, but only in the level of toxicity. A single acorn swallowed whole can cause the death of a small dog that choked on it. Moreover, one acorn can cause an intestinal blockage in a larger dog. However, the quantity of acorns consumed to result in poisoning depends on the size and weight of your dog. Severe acorn poisoning occurs if a dog eats at least six percent of its body weight in acorns. This can be limited quantities for a small dog, while large dogs may need to eat large quantities to experience severe symptoms. Consult a DVM if your dog displays any symptoms within forty-eight hours of eating acorns, regardless of the number ingested.

What If You Did Not See Your Dog Eating Acorns?

Chances are your dog ingested one or more acorns without your knowledge. On the other hand, you may not know the amount of acorns your canine pal consumed. How would you recognize the telltale signs of oak poisoning? The following symptoms should raise enough suspicion to justify a trip to the veterinarian.

Signs of Choking: If your dog shows signs of choking while, or soon after spending time in the park, on a walk, or playing in the backyard, an acorn might be stuck in your pooch’s throat. Look for signs including distress, coughing, difficulty breathing, gagging, pawing at the mouth, and rubbing their face on the ground. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, check your dog’s throat for an object and try to dislodge it using a swiping motion.

Signs of acorn poisoning in dogs: If your furry friend is lethargic, drooling excessively, and demonstrating excessive thirst, it could be a sign of poisoning. Monitor your dog for further symptoms of toxicity, like stomach upset, diarrhea (including bloody diarrhea), dry retching, vomiting (including bloody vomiting), gastrointestinal or abdominal pain, and collapse. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, contact a DVM immediately.

Signs of intestinal obstruction: If your dog may be at risk for an intestinal blockage, look for signs including lethargy, and vomiting (especially after eating or drinking). Likewise, minimal (or no) bowel movements, tender digestive tract, diarrhea, and pale gums should be concerning. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, call a veterinary professional for an X-ray.

How Can You Prevent Your Dog From Eating Acorns?

Although you can’t stop the oak trees from dropping their acorns, there are some precautions you can take.

Training: The first precaution should already be taken when your dog is a puppy. At that time, you might not realize how important it is to teach your puppy to obey the “Drop it” or “leave it” commands in dog training. It is also a good idea to practice those commands frequently to maintain control of what your dog swallows when on walks and in the park.

Prevention. The best tactic to stop your dog from eating acorns is to reduce their contact with the nut. Keep a close eye for areas littered with acorns; if there’s a specific park dense with oak trees, skip going to that park in autumn to avoid exposing your dog to acorns. If your backyard oak tree drops plenty of acorns, regularly rake them up to get them out of reach.

Use distractions. If your dog likes to try to eat acorns despite your other efforts, use well-planned distractions to keep your dog from noticing the acorns in the first place. While on walks near oak trees, bring special treats or a favorite toy to refocus your dog’s concentration away from the acorns.

Unfortunately, your dog does not know that what they are eating is harmful to its health. Dogs use their senses of smell and taste to explore. It is your love and affection for your dog that serves as protection. You know your dog and being alert can save your precious pooch’s life.

Better Safe Than Sorry!

As soon as you spot any signs of discomfort, like nausea, trouble breathing, or other symptoms of acorn poisoning in your dog, don’t delay a trip or call to the vet. Acorn toxicity should be treated promptly, as any delay in treatment can, in severe cases, lead to permanent harm.

Do not try to make your dog sick, as it may not be necessary and in some circumstances can be harmful to your pet. Even if your furry friend is found to be OK and not in grave danger, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

Hopefully, we have answered your questions about whether dogs can eat acorns safely? Remember, even if there are no acorns in sight, your doggy dude could ingest other dangerous objects. Dog owners should always be alert for symptoms of health issues like choking or poisoning, and rush their dog to the vet.

Pet owners are not always aware of the dangers posed by what their dogs eat.

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