- Acorns contain a tannin, which is an acid.
- This acid is in the hard outer shell of the acorn.
- Acorns can be toxic to dogs if eaten in large quantities. (but they would have to eat a lot)
- Another concern with dogs eating acorns is they can cause an intestinal blockage in some dogs.
- 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 large 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.
Squirrels, mice, birds and even deer love these nice big tree nuts 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?
Dogs can eat a lot of things but they shouldn’t eat acorns.
It’s also not a good idea for dogs to eat oak leaves.
While a large dog might not have any issues from eating a small amount of acorns, if they eat acorns in large amounts, they could get sick.
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.
The Diabolical Nature of Acorns
Picture this: your innocent pupper frolicking in a picturesque park, blissfully unaware of the diabolical presence lurking beneath the autumn canopy.
The villain of the story?
These seemingly benign nuts are hiding a toxic secret, filled with tannins and other compounds that can potentially wreak havoc in the doggie digestive system.
Acorns contain gallontannin, which is an acid.
This tannic 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 a lot of acorns are can include:
- stomach upset
- stomach cramping
In the event that your dog decides to indulge in an acorn buffet, you may witness a very messy performance of vomiting and diarrhea.
In severe, very rare cases, acorns can cause serious health issues like 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 a single acorn over the weekend, take a breath, most likely they will be fine.
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.”
Smaller dogs might be more at risk for acorns being a choking hazard but the biggest concern of acorn toxicity in dogs is that it can cause an intestinal obstruction in the GI tract if swallowed whole or they could cause irratation in the digestive tract.
Yes, those pesky acorns can stage a rebellion and refuse to move along the digestive tract, leading to an obstruction of epic proportions.
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.
I have seen dogs that had an upset stomach 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:
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
Since the acorn shells 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 sharp edges of a broken acorn can also cause some abrasions in a dog’s mouth.
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 keep a close eye on them and for pet owners to follow their dogs around the yard.
If the dog gets their paw on 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 raw acorns and sticks.
He hasn’t gotten sick yet (knock on wood) but I’ll be glad when all the acorns are gone!
While acorns may indeed pose some risk to our dogs, let’s not forget that dogs have been known to eat shoes, socks, and even remote controls.
So, in the grand scheme of canine capers, acorns might just be another amusing subplot in the sitcom of life with dogs.
Remember, a healthy dose of humor is often the best antidote to any melodrama, acorns included.
If your dog eats an acorn, it’s recommended that you watch your dog for any gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting or diarrhea.
Most likely, if your dog eats 1 acorn, they’re going to be fine but if your dog does show any of the above signs after eating a large number of acorns, it’s best for dog owners to contact their veterinarian.
To answer those questions I mentioned 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!
They’re called Acorn Weevils and thankfully, they’re not harmful to dogs if eaten!
More Outside Fall Dangers For Dogs
Besides acorns being harmful to dogs, there are also several other fall hazards to be on the lookout during this time of year including:
- oak leaves & bark
- wild mushrooms
- ticks (ticks love to hide in dark places such as leaf piles)
- mums (chrysanthemum)
- corn cobs
- black walnut trees
** 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.