Are acorns poisonous to dogs? What to do if your dog eats acorns

Written by Napo HQ
Reviewed by Dr Louisa Lane
17th Oct 2022
5 mins read
Acorns are dangerous to dogs if they eat them. 
Keeping your dog on a lead or under supervision means they are less likely to eat things they shouldn’t, including acorns.
If your dog eats an acorn, move them away so they can’t eat any more and contact your vet for advice.
Acorns dropping from the trees is a sure sign of autumn. While you might see squirrels munching on these nuts, you shouldn’t let your dog eat acorns off the ground. 
Acorns are not safe for dogs to eat, but luckily, keeping your pup safe on an autumn walk is as simple as making sure they don’t pick up and chow down on these nuts.
If you want to let your pup enjoy an autumnal snack, steer clear of nuts. Ask your vet about safe treats your pup can enjoy. For instance, blackberries can make a natural snack safe for your dog and can be used to bake tasty treats.

Can dogs eat acorns?

No, dogs should not eat acorns. Not only are these seeds not food for dogs, but they can be bad for their health. 
If your dog eats acorns, they will usually suffer from some gastrointestinal illness such as vomiting or diarrhoea. 
It’s very rarely life-threatening. However, eating large amounts can lead to kidney and liver disease, so prevention is better than the cure.
Acorns are also a choking hazard and eating them can cause an intestinal blockage (especially in much smaller and younger dogs). Again, prevention is better than the cure. And keeping your dog safe is as simple as keeping them away from acorns, or getting them to drop any if they pick them up.

Can dogs eat acorns off the ground?

Whether the acorn is green or brown, picked off the tree, or eaten off the ground, it shouldn’t be going in your dog’s mouth. Although some dogs might be tempted to pick up acorns from the ground, you should discourage them from eating them.

What should I do if my dog has eaten acorns?

If your dog has eaten some acorns, try not to panic. Although they can make dogs sick, their life isn’t in danger. So focus on trying to stop your dog from eating the acorns they picked up, and prevent them from eating any more.
If your dog knows a cue like “leave” or “drop”, use it. Hopefully they’ll spit the acorns back out. 
As long as your dog is happy to have their face handled, you can open their mouth and try to get them to drop the acorns.
You should also get your dog on their leash and lead them away from the area where all the acorns are.
If you know your dog has already eaten some acorns, you should call your vet for advice. They’ll let you know whether your pup needs to visit the vets for treatment.
Whatever you do, don’t try to make your dog vomit. You’re more likely to make your dog sicker if you do. Instead, focus on getting guidance from a vet, and take your pup to the practice if you’re asked to come in.

How can I stop my dog from eating acorns?

Keeping your dog safe is as simple as stopping them from eating acorns. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than the cure.

Keep them on the lead

This might mean that you keep them on their lead when you walk under oak trees, where acorns have fallen and gathered. If they’re on the lead, you can steer them away from acorns and other things they shouldn’t be eating.

Consider muzzle training

If you want to let your dog off lead, but they have a habit of eating things they shouldn’t, it can be worth muzzle training them. A well-fitted muzzle won’t hurt your dog, and they can still eat treats, drink, and breathe normally. It will effectively stop them from picking anything up they shouldn’t, preventing the risk of choking, potential poisoning, or sickness. For more info, check out our muzzle training guide.

Teach them to "leave"

Otherwise, you can also train your dog to understand a “leave” or “drop” cue. This will take time, but it means you’ll have another method of keeping your dog safe. It can work especially well if you train your dog to “swap” what’s in their mouth, for something better in your hand like a treat or a toy.
And remember, an accredited dog trainer can help you train your dog obedience skills like a “leave” cue.

What happens if my dog eats acorns?

If your dog eats acorns, they might suffer from:
  • Retching
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
Eating acorns will usually cause stomach pain and digestive upset, like diarrhoea. These symptoms will appear within a few hours of your dog eating acorns. As long as you contact your vet promptly and follow their advice, it’s highly unlikely your dog will suffer from any serious illness.
The more acorns your dog manages to eat, the more severe their symptoms. In rare cases where a dog eats a lot of acorns, they could suffer from intestinal blockage or toxicity. This can cause damage to their liver and kidneys if left untreated.
If you’re ever worried about your dog, you should contact your vet for advice.

Are acorns poisonous to dogs?

Yes, acorns are considered poisonous to dogs. All parts of an oak tree are toxic to dogs, whether it’s the bark, roots, leaves, or acorns. This is because the oak tree, and its acorns, contain a natural chemical called tannins which are toxic to dogs.
Like many things, the risks of toxicity are higher if you have a smaller dog. A tiny breed like a Chihuahua is at greater risk of illness after eating acorns compared to a bigger breed like a Labrador. This is simply because smaller bodies have a lower tolerance to toxins.
However, it’s pretty rare for dogs to suffer from poisoning after eating acorns. The more common risks are choking or intestinal obstruction. Smaller dogs are at greater risk of these problems too, since their oesophagus and digestive tract are all smaller.

Treatment for when a dog eats acorns

How your dog is treated after eating acorns will depend on how many they have eaten, when they were eaten, and your pup’s size.
Most treatments given will help ease your dog’s symptoms. This will probably include a brief stay in the vets to be observed. They’ll also be given IV fluids to prevent dehydration and help the liver to remove any toxins from their body.
Depending on your dog’s symptoms, they may be given an X-ray to check they don’t have an intestinal blockage. Your dog won’t need surgery after eating acorns, unless your vet suspects they’re suffering from an intestinal blockage.

Are acorns poisonous to dogs: in a nutshell

Acorns are poisonous to dogs, so you should try to stop your dog from eating them. However, acorns pose a bigger risk of choking or intestinal blockage than poisoning.
Again, preventing any problems is as simple as stopping your dog from eating acorns.
Keep an eye on them on walks and use a “leave” command if you know it. Otherwise, keeping your dog on a lead, or wearing a muzzle, can stop them picking up acorns or anything else they shouldn’t be eating. 
If your dog eats acorns off the ground, or anything else they shouldn’t eat, contact your vet for advice.

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