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Are acorns poisonous to dogs? What you should know

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We have a large number of oak trees where we live and, as it is now autumn they are producing lots of acorns that are falling to the ground.

My youngest spaniel has taken to eating the occasional acorn which led me to wonder are acorns poisonous to dogs?  I did some research as I didn’t know much about this and this is what I found out.

Acorns can be poisonous to dogs and, if a dog eats too many then they can cause serious illness and even fatality. Acorns contain tannins which can cause stomach upset and diarrhea and, in some cases, eating acorns can cause dogs to suffer kidney damage and internal blockages.

How toxic are acorns for dogs?

Raw acorns contain tannins which are bitter tasting ( which is a normal side effect of things that don’t want to be eaten). 

They can be poisonous to many animals, including dogs and humans as the Gallic and Tannic acids that they contain can cause kidney and liver problems which can result in failure of these organs.

How many acorns are toxic to dogs?

It has been estimated that if a dog eats enough acorns that equate to about 6 per cent of his body weight then he may experience toxic symptoms that would need veterinary intervention and treatment. (source: ).

Small breed dogs are clearly at greater risk of acorn poisoning than bigger dogs as just eating a small amount of acorns could prove to be problematic.

What should I do if my dog eats acorns?

Acorns are really bitter so the actual chance of your dog consuming one is probably quite rare.

It is more than likely that your dog will crunch one up and, due to the bitterness, will spit it out, leaving most, if not all of it uneaten.

If your dog eats one or two acorns then there is probably little need to be overly concerned.

Bear in mind, however, that smaller dogs will succumb to acorn poisoning more quickly than larger breeds.

Should your dog become drowsy, sick, have an upset tummy or display other unusual symptoms after eating an acorn then you should consult your vet.

As in all cases, if you have concerns about your dog’s health, or you are unsure what to do if he eats acorns, then you should speak to your vet straightaway.

How to stop a dog from eating acorns

There is no real way to train or stop a dog from eating acorns, at least not that is easy and guaranteed.

The safest and most reliable way to stop a dog from eating acorns is to remove the risk of acorns by sweeping them up from around your home and either, process them for home use or dispose of them in either the compost heap or dustbin.

You can also avoid exercising your dog in areas where there are high numbers of oak trees during autumn when acorns are prolific.

Quick summary

Acorns are poisonous to dogs and if your dog eats acorns then you should watch him for any signs of changes in behaviour or condition.

Smaller dogs are more susceptible to acorn poisoning than larger dogs, simply because they only need to eat a small quantity of acorns for things to become problematic.

In all cases if you are in any doubt then you should get expert advice and support from your vets.

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