Acorns and Dogs: Are They Dangerous?

by Syndey Hess

Dog with tongue out while outside with acorns and leaves on walkway

For whatever reason, some dogs find these little tree nuts to be irresistible. If you’ve ever worried about acorns and dogs' safety, we've got the answers.

Fall brings changing leaves, sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes, and… acorns. For dogs who tend to vacuum up all sorts of non-edible snacks, acorns on the ground may spike extra anxieties for their humans. 

For whatever reason, some dogs find these little tree nuts to be irresistible. If you’ve ever caught your dog snacking on acorns, you might be wondering if these nuts are safe to eat. 

Acorns and Dogs Potential Dangers

Acorn poisoning is one of the main concerns when a dog ingests an unhealthy amount of acorns. The component that makes acorns toxic to pets is their tannin content, a micronutrient commonly found in all parts of a tree. If acorns are eaten, a pup may be in for a pretty terrible tummy upset, and in rare cases kidney and liver damage can occur.  

Acorn poisoning in dogs may present with these symptoms: 

- Vomiting 

- Diarrhea

- Loss of appetite 

- Dehydration 

Acorns can become a chocking hazard: 

The term ‘obstruction’ is familiar to parents of dogs that like to eat more than the food they are given. Acorns have a hard outer shell that is not easily digestible, so consuming a large quantity of acorns can lead to a small intestine obstruction. While an acorn or two may pass right through without causing any issues for the dog, if you suspect that your pup has eaten a hefty serving it is best to contact your vet. 

How to Prevent a Problem with Acrons and Dogs

The best treatment for acorn consumption is prevention, so that may mean that some pet parents have to be extremely proactive with their pets. 

Teaching a dog to “leave it” and “drop it”  is one of the most important things a dog can learn! It will be so helpful in their day-to-day life, and could save you from a trip to the emergency vet. 

If you know your dog might make a mad dash for the fallen acorns on their regular  walking route or in your backyard, have a toy or treat ready to grab their attention before they have the chance to chow down. Some dogs may eat acorns because they are just looking for an easy snack, but others might eat them out of boredom or curiosity. Keeping your pet engaged and entertained may solve the acorn eating issue. 

If all attempts to keep your pet away from acorns have been unsuccessful, it might be time to consider a well-fitted basket muzzle. It is a big misconception that muzzles are only used for aggressive dogs, while there are so many reasons a muzzle may be necessary to have on hand. When a basket or mesh muzzle is fitted properly, a dog should still be able to pant and drink water. A muzzle might be the solution many are looking for to keep their pets safe from consuming acorns and other potential foreign objects. 

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