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Are Oak Leaves Toxic To Dogs?

Oak trees are one of my favorite trees, especially in the fall. 

They’re big and beautiful and not only do they help to feed many wildlife creatures, but they also are used to make cool things like furniture, floors, instruments and even ships!

Yeah, oak trees are pretty awesome but they’re also messy, especially in the spring and fall. 

Oak trees are a common sight in many backyards, but what happens when those leaves fall and your curious canine decides to take a bite?

cute dog holding a yellow oak leaf

Are oak leaves toxic to dogs, and if so, what should you do to protect your dog?

In this post, we’ll take a look at the potential dangers of oak leaves and oak acorns and provide tips on keeping your dog safe.

Are Oak Leaves Toxic To Dogs?

Oak trees are known for their majestic beauty and the wide variety of species that can be found across North America.

However, they also contain a substance called tannic acid, which can be toxic to dogs when ingestion in large amounts.

Most dog owners are usually concerned about their dog eating acorns but there are other parts of an oak tree that can be toxic to dogs also.

When ingested, especially in large quantities, oak leaves, acorns, and bark can pose serious health risks to any dog.

Tannic acid is the primary culprit behind oak leaf toxicity and acorn poisoning in dogs.

dog holding a bunch of leaves in mouth

Signs Of Oak Leave Poisoning In Dogs

When consumed by dogs, it can lead to symptoms such as:

  1. Gastrointestinal upset: Vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain are common signs of oak leaf ingestion.
  2. Kidney and liver damage: Tannic acid can harm these vital organs, leading to more severe symptoms and health issues.
  3. Difficulty breathing: In severe cases, ingestion of oak leaves and/or oak buds may cause respiratory distress.
  4. Skin irritation: Some dogs might have an allergic reaction to oak leaves in the way of hives or welts. This can cause itching, scratching and biting at the affected area.

dog catching oak leaves

It’s important to note that the severity of symptoms can vary depending on the amount ingested and the dog’s size and overall health.

Usually, a small dog that eats half of an oak leaf will be ok but if your dog is showing signs of distress, contact your veterinarian immediately.

They can provide guidance on whether immediate medical attention is necessary.

In some cases, inducing vomiting may be recommended, but this should only be done under the advice of a professional.

dog with big oak leaf stuck to drool

Preventing Oak Leaf Ingestion

Prevention is key when it comes to keeping your dog safe from oak leaf toxicity.

Here are some tips that dog owners can use to help keep their pets safe around oak trees this fall and all year round. 

  1. Yard maintenance: Regularly clean up fallen oak leaves and acorns from your yard to minimize your dog’s exposure.
  2. Supervision: When taking your dog for walks or letting them play outdoors, keep a close eye on them to ensure they don’t ingest any potentially harmful items and it’s a good idea to keep them out of piles of leaves.
  3. Training: Teach your dog basic commands like “leave it” or “drop it” to help prevent them from picking up and consuming potentially toxic materials.

Are Oak Tree Acorns Poisonous To Dogs?

While oak acorns might be safe for squirrels and deer to eat, they are not safe for our dogs to eat because they contain that tannic acid we keep talking about. 

They can also be a choking hazard for smaller dogs and upset their digestive system if eaten in large amounts.

Green acorns are more toxic to dogs than brown acorns and while most dogs will be fine if they just eat a couple of acorns, dogs that consume a lot of acorns have a bigger chance of suffering from acorn toxicity. 

Small dogs are also at risk for an intestinal blockage. 

I’ve personally had 2 dogs that have eaten a number of acorns and thankfully neither of them ever showed any signs or symptoms of poisoning except for a little stomach upset. 

The most common clinical signs of acorn poisoning seen in dogs are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite

We talk a lot more about acorns and how to get your dog to stop eating them in this article

dog carrying big oak stick

Can Dogs Eat Oak Tree Branches?

Oak trees contain tannic acid, which is the primary toxic component. 

While the leaves and acorns are more commonly ingested by dogs, branches from oak trees can also pose a risk if chewed or ingested in large amounts.

If a dog chews or eats oak tree branches, they may experience similar symptoms of toxicity, such as gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea.

In severe cases or with significant ingestion, dogs can also suffer from liver and kidney damage. 

Swallowing oak tree sticks or branches can also lead to intestinal obstruction or irritation of a dog’s digestive tract.

Dog with stick

Other Outside Fall Dangers For Dogs

Besides oak leaves and acorns being harmful to dogs, there are also several other fall hazards to be on the lookout during this time of year including:


In conclusion, oak leaves and several other parts of an oak tree can cause oak poisoning in dogs, also referred to as quercus poisoning. 

To keep your dog safe this fall and all year round, it’s important for dog owners to be aware of the potential risks and take preventive measures.


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