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Can Dogs Eat Acorns And How To Make Them Stop

  1. Acorns contain a tannin, which is an acid.
  2. This acid is in the hard outer shell of the acorn.
  3. Acorns can be toxic to dogs if eaten in large quantities. (but they would have to eat a lot)
  4. Another concern with dogs eating acorns is they can cause an intestinal blockage in some dogs.
  5. Symptoms of acorn poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and drooling.

How many acorns does an oak tree produce?

Why do the squirrels keep dropping 1/2 eaten acorns in my yard?!

What are those tiny holes in an acorn?

These are questions I asked myself the other day as I was picking up hundreds of acorns off the ground for the 5th time this week.

We don’t even an oak tree in our yard but our neighbor does and my dog is very happy about that!

(Answers to those important questions are at the bottom of this post in case you’re dying to know!)

Acorns that fall from nearby oak trees are a sign that fall is right around the corner and normally any sign of fall is a welcome sign to me since it’s by far my all-time favorite season.

On average, most acorns usually start dropping from oak trees around mid-September to late October, although when I was out on a walk last week 3 acorns bounced off my head and onto the ground.

That prompted me to do a backyard check and I found that there were a lot of green acorns on the ground.

This means that acorns are falling earlier this year and most of the acorns that are falling aren’t mature.

Acorns are the giant seeds of oak trees.

Acorns are the giant seeds of oak trees.

Squirrels, mice, birds and even deer love a nice big acorn because they are a great source of protein for these critters.

Unfortunately, many dogs like them too and they can be viewed as a great snack if you have them falling from your oak tree in the autumn months.

Out of 6 dogs, I’ve had 2 that are obsessed with them!

So is a dog eating acorns a bad thing?

Let’s check it out. 

Can Dogs Eat Acorns?

The questions phrased this way always take me back to 2nd grade when a kid would ask the teacher if they could go to the bathroom.

The teacher would reply, “I don’t know, CAN you?”

So I’ll answer this question the same way my elementary teacher would answer, “I don’t know, CAN they?”

The obvious answer is yes, dogs can eat acorns. 

They can eat anything they put in their mouth but the question I’m sure you mean is, “Should dogs eat acorns?”

No, they probably shouldn’t, because they can make some dogs sick if eaten in large quantities. 

signs of acorn poisoning in dogs are vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy

Are Acorns Toxic To Dogs?

The quick and straight answer is yes, acorns can be toxic to dogs and they can make them sick, sometimes.

Acorns contain gallontannin, which is an acid.

This acid is in the hard outer shell of the acorn.  

If the dog chews the acorn this releases the acid and the dog may become sick.

Signs that a dog may be sick from eating acorns are can include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping.

In severe cases, acorns can cause kidney failure in dogs.

How Many Acorns Are Toxic To Dogs?

Now, if you are reading this and starting to panic because you saw your dog eat an acorn over the weekend, take a breath,  most likely they will be fine.

 

acorns are seeds that fall from an oak tree and they contain tannin which is an acid

The ASPCA states that “Kidney damage has been reported in grazing animals such as cows and horses, but it’s rare for dogs and cats, because they generally don’t eat enough acorns to cause long-term damage.”

And this veterinarian states that “It has been estimated that if an animal eats enough acorns to be equivalent to 6 percent of body weight toxic effects will occur.”

The bigger concern of dogs eating acorns is that it can cause an obstruction in the GI tract if swallowed whole or they could cause GI irritation.

It is said that green acorns are more toxic to dogs than brown ones and the bigger the cap the more acid it contains.

During my 10 years as a veterinary technician I never saw or heard of a dog that had died from eating acorns, but that doesn’t mean it has never happened.

Of course, you should speak with your veterinarian if you have concerns or questions about your dog eating acorns and becoming sick.

have seen dogs that have gotten GI upset from eating acorns, Sherman included, which is reason enough for me to not want them in my yard and maybe a reason for you to deter your dog from eating them when you can.

Signs of Acorn Poisoning In Dogs

Some signs of acorn poisoning in dogs are diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, drooling and a painful abdomen.

Since the shells of an acorn can be sharp when chewed it may also irritate a dog’s throat so some dogs may experience trouble swallowing food and water or cough/gag.

the easiest way to stop a dog from eating acorns is to teach them to "leave it" or "drop it"

How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Acorns:

The best way to stop your dog from eating acorns is to train them to ‘leave it” or “drop it”.

This is a great and important command to teach all dogs but if you’re dealing with a puppy eating acorns like I am, you’ll find more success by just picking them up.

I will usually investigate the yard several times a day, especially after it rains, and pick up as many acorns, sticks and mushrooms as I can. 

If you can’t get out to clean your yard prior to your dog going outside, it’s safest to follow them around the yard and if they get an acorn, take it away.

I’m not going to lie, I usually don’t get all of our acorns and Lou will find one and try to inhale it.

If he gets one, I will normally just swipe his mouth with my hand or finger.

Sometimes he gets a few bites and sometimes he doesn’t. 

For a more detailed post check out: How to Really Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Acorns.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats Acorns

I can tell you that you’re not alone.

Our puppy, Lou, is currently obsessed with eating acorns and sticks.

He hasn’t gotten sick yet (knock on wood) but I’ll be glad when all the acorns are gone!

If your dog eats an acorn, it’s recommended that you watch your dog for any gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting or diarrhea.

If your dog does show any of these signs after eating acorns you should contact your veterinarian.

To answer those questions I posed at the beginning of this post:

In a mast year, a big oak tree can produce up to 10,000 acorns! (I’m not sure if 2021 is a mast year but 2020 was)

The squirrels haven’t responded to my message about why they keep dropping 1/2 eaten acorns. I’ll update this post if they get their act together.

Those tiny holes in an acorn are from beetles!

Ew! 

They’re called Acorn Weevils and thankfully, they’re not harmful to dogs if eaten!

** This is an informational post only and is not meant to substitute veterinarian care. If your dog becomes ill you should always seek the advice of a licensed veterinarian.

 

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Tara

Tuesday 26th of October 2021

Two weeks ago my 15 year old, 15lb Schnoodle threw up a few times on an empty stomach in the morning and was lethargic all day. We went to the vet the next day and did a blood test to discover some of his kidney levels were very elevated. The vet had me switch him to a prescription kidney food to manage this.

Today he threw up about an hour after he went outside and I saw what I thought might be a berry. I went out side to investigate and the only thing I could find on the ground are acorns, some of which were broken open and orange inside.

At the vet we assumed his elevated kidney levels were a result of his age and breed, but now I'm thinking they could be from eating acorns. Do you think this is a possibility? If it were from eating acorns, how long would it take for his levels to return to normal? We've never lived somewhere with acorns before so this never occurred to me as a possible hazard for him.

Ducky & Bogie's Mom

Wednesday 15th of September 2021

Oh, Jen, I know exactly how you feel about acorns! You probably don't remember that Ducky used to eat all sorts of yard trash. Probably part of the reason she had IBS when she was young. Thankfully, she outgrew the habit and the IBS eased considerably. Now we have Bogie who likes to eat sticks, leaves, acorns, bugs, mushrooms, and anything else he can find. Thankfully, he seems to be outgrowing the taste for everything but the sticks. Though I still have to keep an eye on him when we're in the yard in case he gets "curious". Thankfully he hasn't gotten sick on any of it. But I do take pieces of sticks out of his mouth frequently. Last thing he needs is to get a piece caught in his throat or GI tract. Hopefully, like Ducky, he'll outgrow the yard trash habit in a few months. Personally, I hate acorns because they make walking in the yard hazardous. The ones we get in our yard are tiny - about the size of my pinky fingernails - and they are all. over. the. place. Grrr. Tell me - do you have beehive holes in your yard? We do, and Bogie likes sticking his snout in them! It's a miracle he hasn't been stung yet!! I think I'd rather have to swipe acorns out of his mouth. Give your sweet boys kisses and ear rubs for me!

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