Autumn is the time of the year when one can go bonkers for acorns and conkers. These nuts, though not fit for human consumption, are great as decorative accents for seasonal DIY projects.
Acorns or oak are rampant on the ground in between the colorful trees and along the endless paths of fallen leaves.
And if you are walking with your pet, there’s a chance that your dog may eat one or two of these oak tree nuts. But, can dogs eat acorns?
Can Dogs Eat Acorns?
While it may be tempting to pick and eat acorns straight from the ground or from the beautiful oak trees of autumn, that might not just be a great idea to spend this joyful season.
And what’s even worse is to simply let your dog play or even have a quick taste of this nut.
Eating acorns can cause several uncomfortable side effects to your dog, such as abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. And these symptoms may manifest within a few hours after your dog ate some acorns.
So, to answer the question – no, dogs can’t eat acorns. And you should avoid acorns at all costs whenever you are walking with your dog, especially when there is an abundance of acorns on the ground as winter is coming.
Are Acorns Poisonous to Dogs?
Yes, acorns are toxic to dogs. And that’s exactly why you should not give acorns to your pups or allow them to play or nibble on these toxic nuts.
However, whether they will get sick after eating acorns or they can simply go on with their days as if nothing happened depends on several factors.
One of the things that will affect the severity of your dog’s reaction is the amount of acorns your dog ate.
The size of your dog and his overall health are two other factors that can influence the symptoms that he may experience within a few hours to a couple of days after his ingestion of these toxic nuts.
Smaller dogs are also more at risk for choking on acorns, and for experiencing an intestinal blockage. Both of these are serious medical emergencies, that need to be acted upon immediately to prevent life-threatening complications.
Surgery may be needed in severe cases of intestinal obstruction.
Why Are Acorns Toxic to Dogs?
Acorns contain tannins, which are chemical compounds commonly found in most plants. Wine, grapes, and coffee also contain tannins, which is why these food and drinks are also toxic to dogs when consumed.
In particular, tannins can make your dog sick, especially in larger amounts. And even if your dog only ate one or two acorns, it is still best to contact your vet.
Besides, you won’t know for sure if your dog only consumed one acorn. Hence, it’s better to err on the side of caution and observe measures that can prevent more harmful reactions later.
Also, it turns out that the symptoms of acorn toxicity usually take about one week to be apparent, but it doesn’t mean that nothing is happening inside your dog’s system on the days leading to that dreadful week.
Acorns and oak leaves contain tannin that may cause problems to your dog ranging from stomach upset to more serious complications such as kidney failure and liver problems.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Acorn Poisoning?
The following are the signs, symptoms, and complications that you should watch out for if you suspect that your dog has eaten acorn or oak leaves during your morning walk or while he was playing outside your yard:
- Body Weakness
- Abdominal Pain
- Loss of Appetite
- Blood in the stool or urine
- Toxic Shock
- Kidney Failure
- Liver Problems
- Death, in rare and severe cases
Generally, the more acorns your dog ate, the more serious his reactions will be. According to experts, when a dog eats acorns equivalent to around 6% of his body weight, he is more likely to experience life-threatening complications from acorn poisoning.
Taking this into consideration, it’s logical to assume that smaller dogs are more at risk of experiencing severe cases of acorn toxicity.
After all, it is easier for a 5-pound dog to eat 4.8 ounces of acorns (6% of his body weight) than it would for a 120-pound dog to consume more than 7 pounds of acorns.
What Happens If Your Dog Has Eaten an Acorn?
Aside from acorn toxicity, there are still other serious concerns that you have to worry about if your dog has eaten acorn.
The three other potentially life-threatening side effects from acorn ingestion in dogs are choking, intestinal blockage, and organ failure.
Acorns are round and small, which makes them a perfect choking hazard, especially for smaller dogs. And to make it worse, they also have a shiny and hard exterior that becomes slippery when it comes in contact with your dog’s saliva. This makes it easier for them to slide down your dog’s throat and cause choking.
Some dogs, however, won’t simply swallow the acorns. Instead, they will chew and crush them before swallowing.
While the crunch may sound satisfying, dogs can easily cut their mouth, and the sharp edges of the splintered shells may cause damage to the tissues, particularly to the lining of their gastrointestinal tract. This may lead to intestinal obstruction and internal bleeding, which may need surgical intervention.
Finally, once your dog eats acorns, these nuts break down into undigestible acids. And these acids may build up in your dog’s liver and kidneys as they try to filter out the toxins.
When left untreated, this could lead to serious damages to your dog’s organs, which can eventually lead to organ failure and death.
What Should You Do When Your Dog Has Eaten Acorns?
If your dog has eaten acorns, and you suspect that he is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, make sure to call your vet immediately. Tell him your observations, so, he can make his diagnosis and start with your dog’s treatment accordingly.
However, if you notice signs of choking, you may not have enough time to take him to the vet. So, you need to perform the first response to choking immediately.
If you need assistance with the procedure, you can check out videos on YouTube on how to help a choking dog. You may want to check it out now, so you are prepared during emergencies.
If your dog is not choking, you should not induce vomiting. Acorns are hard with sharp edges, especially if your dog was able to break the shell off.
Hence, inducing vomiting may only scratch the esophagus as your dog tries to release the acorns from his stomach all the way out of his throat.
As such, taking your dog to the vet may be your best option. He may have to treat your dog using activated charcoal and intravenous fluid to keep him hydrated.
There’s no way to detoxify your dog, so he may have to process the toxin by himself. And making sure that he is well-hydrated can help him eliminate the toxins more efficiently.
What Treatment Will Your Dog Most Likely Receive from the Vet?
Your vet will most likely treat your dog symptomatically, or targeting the symptoms that he is experiencing.
In addition to activated charcoal and intravenous fluids, your vet may also administer medications depending on your dog’s symptoms.
Your dog will have to undergo surgical intervention if his symptoms are manifesting the presence of intestinal obstruction.
Are Some Dogs More at Risk for Acorn Poisoning Than Others?
Curious dogs that are more often outside for a walk, may have the tendency to lick and chew on unsuitable items, such as acorns.
And those who consume large amounts of these nuts in accordance with their body weight (more than 6% of their body weight), are more likely to experience acorn poisoning.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Acorns?
Autumn is but a fleeting season, so, you might want to take your dog for a walk during this time. However, while outside, you should be, especially mindful of your dog’s whereabouts and alert with whatever catches his attention.
If your dog loves to nibbles on undesirable items even while inside your house, then, chances are high that he will also love to sniff through the dried autumn leaves, which can potentially lead him to these toxic nuts.
You should also avoid playing with him using acorns, and you must reinforce that these nuts are not food that he can simply eat whenever he wants.
Hence, it may be helpful if your dog knows some trick or two. In particular, it would be helpful if your dog understands the “drop” or “leave” command, so, he can easily drop the acorn or other potentially harmful objects when you ask him to.
If your dog shows signs of being unwell a few hours or even a few days after your outdoor walk, you should call your vet immediately.
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