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Are acorns dangerous for dogs?

Nice warm weather during autumn encourages us to go for a walk with our dog. The autumn feeling is very familiar: fallen leaves in a riot of colours, shiny conkers and a flood of acorns. Curious dogs love to pick up these things to play with. Unfortunately they can also cause problems. Read advice about acorns from our vet in this article.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet


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Owners are often concerned about how conkers and acorns could affect their pet, who simply just see them as a toy. Unfortunately some of our furry friends decide to chew or swallow them. Whilst these items can be toxic to pets, how toxic are they and what happens if your pet swallows one?


Clinical signs of acorn toxicity

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea +/- blood
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain


Causes of acorn toxicity

Acorns come from oak trees. Whilst acorns are very toxic for ruminants, such as cows and sheep, toxicity in dogs is less common. The main toxic substance contained in acorns are tannins, and possible other compounds. The younger the seed, the higher concentration of tannins; fresh, green acorns are potentially the most toxic. The more acorns a dog eats, the more likely they are to have signs of toxicity. This is also likely to be proportional to the size of the dog.


Diagnosis of acorn toxicity

Vomiting and/or diarrhoea are the most common signs of acorn toxicity in dogs. You may notice evidence of acorn ingestion in your dog’s vomit or stools. Diarrhoea may contain blood. Signs are typically seen from one hour after ingestion and up to 24 hours. Other signs include abdominal pain, loss of appetite and lethargy.

Signs of mild intoxication may resolve in 24-48 hours. Risks associated with severe vomiting are dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Usually, constant vomiting will require medical attention regardless of the cause.

In rare cases dogs might develop an allergic reaction, which may manifest with rash and swelling, especially on the face and ears.


What can you do to help your pet?

Preventing your dog from eating acorns is the best way to avoid acorn poisoning. If you notice that your dog picks up, chews or swallows acorns, it is important to seek prompt veterinary advice.


Treatment of acorn toxicity

Treatment of acorn toxicity focuses on managing the clinical signs. One other danger associated with acorns is their shape as a potential intestinal foreign body. Surgery may be required for dogs that develop an intestinal obstruction.


When to call your vet?

  • If you are concerned that your dog may have eaten acorns


Read more: Conker poisoning in dogs


Still worried?

Book a video appointment to have a chat with one of our vets.

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