As a Smart Dog Owner, you’re aware of the typical canine hazards in your home. What your dog has access to in your home and garage is easily controlled, but when it comes to hazards in your yard, at parks, and on hikes isn’t as consistent. Trees, plants, mushrooms–they’re all items that present a potential risk to canines.
Do you know what hazards lurk in your yard? Dogs will chew on anything, and I do mean anything, while in the outdoors, they will find a comfortable spot and munch on an acorn they just found. But the question is, can dogs eat acorns without any harm? Short answer, I wish there were no acorns on the planet!
You see, dogs can’t and shouldn’t eat acorns because they are toxic. Yep, the nut we can easily eat is poisonous for our dogs.
Yet, you’ll often see a dog accidentally nibble on an acorn and remain fine. How is that so? Acorn is toxic, but smaller quantities won’t harm a dog. Does that mean you should seize the day and give your pup some acorns?
Not really. Don’t worry; I’ll explain everything about acorns and dogs in detail.
Can Dogs Eat Acorns?
No, dogs can’t eat acorns, and you shouldn’t try to serve them either because they can be toxic. Eating acorns will give the dog nausea, stomach aches, and vomiting and possibly trigger a reaction severe enough to risk its life.
And that’s not the only concern; acorns can be a massive choking hazard for your dogs. So, even if they weren’t toxic, acorns still wouldn’t make it on the doggy-safe list.
What Even Is An Acorn?
An acorn is a nutty fruit that pops out after an oak tree blooms; this is why acorns are also called oak nuts because they come from the oak tree.
You’ll easily recognize acorns from their unique shape; that cap-like head and long, spherical body are common in cartoons, parks, and yards.
The funny thing is, we might see squirrels running around with acorns, but they aren’t exactly the safest nut of the bunch for us or our puppers.
Yes, I know, acorns are often a common part of some recipes. But some don’t know we can leach away the toxicity, so it’s safe for us to eat.
But even if we were to do the same for our puppers, we wouldn’t be able to serve them acorns. Because while we can extract the toxicity and make it safe for us to eat, acorns still aren’t the best nut for your dog.
Dogs and Acorn: A Nut So Good Relationship
Dogs are work from the get-go! They are your second child and will always demand your full attention. You have to train them, feed them, and be responsive to all their silly tail-wagging. So coming back to the question “Can dogs eat acorns” is necessary to answer.
The query can dogs eat acorns has been bothering many pet owners for a long time. The shortest answer to that question is a simple NO.
Then you must be aware of the fact that the outer shell of an acorn contains Gallotannin acid, which is bad for the digestive system of the dog. It can cause food poisoning.
Dogs can’t eat acorns. Acorns are those delicious nuts that can prove to be enormously destructive to your dog. Doubting how eating acorns can hurt dogs?
And then there’s the risk of choking on the acorn, which doesn’t go well for your dog. So, dogs can’t eat acorns, and no dog parent should risk it either.
Do Acorns Have Nutritional Benefits for Dogs?
There are multiple foods/snacks dogs can’t typically have but are safe for them in moderation. Dog parents will often serve these foods in moderation because they offer multiple nutritional benefits.
Such a thing often tempts dog parents to let their dog nibble on an acorn. But does acorn even offer such benefits, or is it not worth the effort?
We’ll have to look at the nutritional profile of acorns to answer this question.
Healthy Nutrients & Possible Benefits
Naturally, every food has a few beneficial nutrients. We realize acorns contain a few healthy nutrients when we look at the table:
● Great Fat Content
A single oz of acorns contains around 8-9 grams of fat, which is great because dogs need them. Fats, especially saturated ones, help grow a dog’s coat and give it a glossy sheen.
● Low Cholesterol
Cholesterol isn’t the best thing a dog can have, so most vets recommend using low-cholesterol foods.
● Great Carb Content
Dogs need carbohydrates; carbs help dogs generate heat, provide energy and maintain muscle and nerve health. Acorns are a good source of carbs.
Dogs have the worst relationship with sugar, so sugary items are off the list. Acorns are rare foods that don’t have much sugar.
Unhealthy Nutrients in Acorns
Acorns have good nutrients, but some of them can be dangerous.
Your dog wouldn’t be able to snack on acorns even if they were not toxic because of these unhealthy nutrients:
● Low Protein Count
A low protein count won’t kill a dog, but vets don’t recommend serving foods that have a higher fat and carb count than protein.
I know it sounds a little confusing, but let me explain.
Carbs and fats are nutrients dogs need, but when they cross the nutritionally-recommended quantity, they can be dangerous.
A food high in carbs and fats but doesn’t have an equally higher protein count isn’t a good treat for your dog.
An oz of acorn has 8-9 grams of fats and 15 grams of carbohydrates, which outweigh the protein (2-3 grams), so it isn’t suitable for a dog.
● Concentrated Potassium
Acorns contain a lot of potassium; although dogs need potassium, consuming too much can be dangerous.
An oz of acorns contains roughly 200 milligrams of potassium which might not seem too dangerous but can be when taken at a time.
● Low Vitamin and Mineral Count
Acorns don’t offer much except fats and carbohydrates; they have a low mineral and vitamin count, so they aren’t the greatest nut for your pup.
The Main Risk: Acorn Toxicity
All the nutrients I listed above make it seem like acorns aren’t the worst thing in the world for dogs. But I keep mentioning there’s quite literally a toxic element to them, so let’s get right on to it.
Acorns contain tannins, a chemical compound highly toxic to dogs. The tannin found in acorns is gallotannin, an acidic chemical compound that can be highly dangerous.
Gallotannin is typically found in acorn shells, so doggo parents who know about the chemical compound assume they can serve the nut without the shell.
But that does not take away the risk because eating shell-less acorns will still trigger Quercus poisoning.
What is Quercus/Acorn Poisoning?
Quercus poisoning is oak leaf poisoning; the oak plant contains certain toxins that endanger our dogs and our lives.
Acorn poisoning is a serious matter because not many dog owners can immediately recognize it, so it’s often too late when they find out.
Acorn poisoning carries serious threats, some of which can worsen and lead to death.
Milder threats symptoms include frequent urination, excessive thirst, and dry coat, while the more serious include gastritis, swollen kidneys, and kidney failure.
The Serious Risks of Acorn Poisoning in Dogs
Unfortunately, eating even a single acorn can trigger some serious risks, which include:
Vets agree acorn ingestion usually results in an inflammation of the stomach and not much more. Smaller dogs who have eaten a fair amount sometimes end up with explosive, very frequent bloody diarrhea, known as hemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE).
Dogs diagnosed with HGE need to be hospitalized and put on IV fluids and antibiotics to keep them hydrated and free of secondary infections.
HGE isn’t fatal if it’s treated quickly, but it is a scary thing to see your dog go through. Anybody whose dog has had HGE can tell you it’s one of the worst smells you’ll ever experience.
Small dogs, puppies, and seniors take longer to recover and are at a higher risk of complications, meaning you should get them into the vet at the first sign of bloody diarrhea or vomiting.
Intestinal obstructions are very serious, regardless of the age or size of your dog or what the obstruction is. Signs of intestinal obstruction include vomiting immediately after eating or drinking, diarrhea or very little to no bowel movements, abdominal pain, lethargy, and pale gums.
Obstructions are 100 percent fatal if the vet doesn’t properly address them, and most require surgery to remove them.
Minor obstructions can sometimes be shaken loose with continuous, heavy IV fluids, but this isn’t the typical outcome. Surgery is invasive and requires a significant recovery time, and the risk for secondary infections is significant.
If your dog is small and you catch them munching on acorns, call your vet immediately. Don’t induce vomiting at home with hydrogen peroxide. Just because they were able to swallow it doesn’t mean it’s small enough to come back up safely, and you risk the acorn lodging in the throat.
Your vet will want you to monitor for signs of an obstruction and possibly have you come in for x-rays to evaluate the size of the intestines versus the acorn(s).
● Kidney Damage/Failure
In cases where the kidneys are affected, dogs have increased thirst, more frequent urination that decreases in volume, dark yellow/pungent urine, and lethargy.
Blood work will present elevated kidney values, showing the kidneys have been affected by the acorn’s tannins. Kidney failure occurs if the dog ate a copious amount of acorns and received treatment.
Spotting Acorn Toxicity in Dogs
It isn’t the easiest thing to spot acorn toxicity in dogs because some symptoms are mild and may not appear immediately.
Additionally, you may not see your dog eating acorns, so it might not be easy to guess what happened.
But I’m listing a few things indicating acorn poisoning for those of you who have oak trees near your house:
● Loss of Appetite
Dogs love to eat, but something is wrong if your dog keeps away from the food bowl.
A sudden loss of appetite is a sign something is wrong, so you should schedule an appointment with the vet if your pup is not eating.
● Unusual Behavior
Unusual behavior is typically the first sign that tells people something is wrong with their dogs.
Erratic behaviors, sudden twitching, nervousness, whimpering, gloomy/moody behaviors, and reluctance to go outside are common unusual behaviors that dogs show when they are sick.
● Stomach Problems
Stomach aches, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and similar stomach problems are the biggest indicators of a sick dog.
● Urinary Problems
Dogs suffering from mild acorn toxicity frequently urinate and drink water at the same rate.
● Changes in Coat
A dog’s coat becomes dry and stiff from acorn poisoning.
A rough coat indicates dehydration or dryness due to weather changes, but you should always consult the vet.
Treatment from Acorn Toxicity
Unfortunately, treating acorn toxicity isn’t the easiest thing because it doesn’t have an antidote.
The quickest way for doctors to treat acorn poisoning is to reduce the level of toxicity in the body, but it’s only possible if you spot the signs on time.
Yet, you can’t get rid of the poison directly because it has no antidote, so the best you can do is support your dog’s health and help it fight the effects of the poison.
Vets treat acorn poisoning using IV nutrition and medicinal treatments to improve liver and heart health.
Timely treatment can save a pupper’s life, but it takes a while for it to get back on its feet. You can expect recovery with the support of medicines in a few weeks.
Prevention of Acorn Toxicity
The best thing you can do is prevent acorn toxicity. While there’s no easy way of doing this, you can prevent your dog from eating acorns and other unknown nuts and plants by training and other methods.
Here are a few things you can try to save your dog from acorn toxicity:
● Train Your Pupper
You must train your dog to protect its life.
Many dog owners let their puppers have fun and roam around on their own, and while it is sweet, it can be dangerous for others and the dogs.
You should train your dog, so it understands not to run on its own and avoid dangerous mouthfuls.
You can also seek a dog training program if you think your puppy needs a little more help.
➔ Explain the Dos and Don’ts
The most important thing a dog needs to know is what it should and shouldn’t do.
Dogs are helpless and won’t be able to protect themselves from dangerous foods unless we step in, so we should tell them exactly what steps to follow.
You should train and explain to your dogs the general dos and don’ts, including how to behave with strangers and not run off on their own.
Dogs that know what foods to avoid have a lower chance of accidental poisoning. You must train your dogs to avoid acorns and other dangerous nuts.
It’s also best to teach your dog not to chase after squirrels or poke its nose into trees and bushes because it could eat something dangerous.
➔ Softly Discipline About the Goods and the Bads
Dog parents often struggle with training their dogs, but the most effective strategy is to treat good behavior and softly discipline the bad behavior.
Give your pupper a delicious treat every time it displays good behavior so your dog recognizes healthy patterns. Don’t punish your dog severely if it does something bad but point out your disappointment so your dog knows how you feel.
Treating good behavior and expressing disappointment in bad behavior teaches a dog to tell the two apart.
Express your disappointment and strictly point out not to eat acorns and other dangerous nuts when your dog tries. Give your dog a treat when it listens to you.
Your dog will slowly stop seeking acorns and other “don’ts” and automatically adjust its behavior, which you can reward later.
● Avoid Oak Trees
The most common place a dog can accidentally nibble on an acorn is on a walk.
You can’t stop oak trees from growing, but you can stop your pupper from playing among their falling leaves and chasing squirrels.
There are two main things you can do to avoid oak trees when you’re with your dog:
➔ Change Your Walking Routes
You should change your walking route if it has numerous oak trees in its way. Of course, this is just a temporary change until you effectively train your dog.
You should keep your dog on a leash if you can’t change the routes and it is fond of running off.
Try to restrain your dog from rushing off close to oak trees, and don’t let it bury its nose in the fallen leaves since they could contain acorns.
➔ Add A Barrier
Add a protective barrier to keep your dog away if you live close to oak trees or have a yard full of them. You can’t control where the wind blows, but you can add a protective barrier against the trees that only you can access.
Adding a barrier will keep the dog from accidentally eating acorns.
Are Acorns Truly Bad, or Is There A Catch?
Acorns contain gallotannins that cause stomach and kidney problems in dogs. Larger dogs have been reported to ingest acorns and only feel mild stomach pain.
Smaller dogs can get acorns stuck in their food pipe, which causes obstruction and irritation. So are acorns safe for dogs? Well, in moderation, your pooch might only feel a bit of an upset stomach but ingestion in large quantities may be dangerous.
Yes, acorns are a danger to dogs. These cute little nuts seem harmless enough, but they contain something called Gallotannin. It’s a form of tannin, an acid found in many common foods like coffee and tea. When dogs eat acorns in the spring or fall, they often get sick from the tannin found in the acorn’s shell.
Gallotannin has a number of effects on the body, and it can kill dogs if they eat a copious amount of acorns because the acid targets the kidneys.
So you shouldn’t risk it at all and simply avoid acorns.
Let’s discuss this in a little more detail:
Parts of Acorns not Safe for doggos
Are acorns toxic to dogs? Yes. But is there a part of an acorn that is safe for dogs? Unfortunately, no.
➔ Oak Leaves
You might think a few leaves are harmless, but oak leaves are extremely dangerous for dogs and us.
Oak leaves contain enough concentrated tannins to put your pupper and your life at risk from a simple nibble.
➔ Oak Bark and Stems
Unfortunately, all parts of an oak tree are poisonous and can trigger severe reactions when eaten.
➔ Acorn Cap
An acorn’s top part/cap attaches to the stems of oak trees, so it contains a high concentration of tannin. The acorn cap is toxic to dogs and humans.
➔ Acorn Nut
An acorn’s nut contains tannins, which are dangerous for dogs and humans.
We can leach the tannins from the acorn nut to make it safe for consumption, but even then, it is dangerous for dogs.
A green acorn is a raw or unripe acorn. Many assume a raw/green acorn is safer to eat because it is still developing and may not have toxins, but it isn’t true. Green acorns are highly toxic to men and dogs.
What About Acorn Squash?
Acorn squash is a delicious winter squash you can roast with brown sugar and butter to get a delicious snack. Acorn squash is a common plant you’ll find in many big supermarkets, so you might wind up with the vegetable in your house.
But is an acorn squash safe for your pupper, or is it as toxic as an acorn?
Is Acorn Squash An Acorn?
It’s often confusing to see the word acorn squash because people assume it’s the same thing as an acorn. However, an acorn squash is not the same as an acorn. Allow me to elaborate.
Acorn squash is a winter squash from the family of butternut and banana squashes. We can easily eat acorn squash by cooking it or simply toasting it. Why call it an acorn squash if it is not related to the acorn nut?
You see, acorn squash looks like an acorn because it has a similar shape; it is a little rounded but with a pointed bottom, exactly like the acorn nut.
We call this winter squash an acorn squash because it looks like an acorn. There is no similarity between an acorn and an acorn squash apart from the name.
Can Dogs Eat Acorn Squash?
Acorn squash is healthy for us, but many believe it is unhealthy for dogs because of its name.
And while it is dangerous to see dogs eating acorns, you can relax because dogs can eat acorn squash. In fact, cooked acorn squash is one of the few squashes your dog can safely eat.
What About Their Seeds and Skin?
The seeds and skin of acorn squash are not toxic to dogs but can cause intestinal blockage, so it is best to stay away from them.
What Eating Acorns Will Do To A Dog
Dogs like to roam their yards and eat anything that looks tasty. Some dogs enjoy the taste of acorns, and others simply like to eat anything they can swallow. These are also the dogs who like to eat things like rocks.
You might not be able to immediately realize your dog ate an acorn, but little behaviors here and there can pinpoint a lot. Let’s discuss what happens to a dog if it eats acorns.
Common Symptoms of Acorn Poisoning
You’ll first notice a few symptoms that typically present when a dog has acorn toxicity. Not all of these symptoms might be present simultaneously or at all, and some of them will take longer to present:
● Behavioral changes
Includes whimpering, shivering, moaning, howling, and any other indicators of a dog’s pain or discomfort.
● Dry coat
A dry or rough coat indicates something is wrong
● Upset stomach
Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea
● Frequent urination
Peeing excessively, even with a controlled diet, is a cause of concern.
● Excessive thirst
Symptoms include staying close to water, taking frequent baths eagerly, and drinking water excessively.
Signs of Acorn Toxicity
The problem with acorn toxicity is that most of its signs and symptoms are similar to milder conditions, so you can’t always tell if your dog caught a cold or ate something funny.
Often, symptoms of an upset stomach from eating something mildly dangerous and something toxic overlap, so it isn’t the easiest task figuring out exactly what’s wrong.
However, you should see some signs that indicate your dog might have acorn toxicity instead of a simple stomach ache:
1) Severe Stomach Problems
You can tell apart a simple upset stomach from a severe one by observing the intensity.
Vomiting after eating something isn’t unusual for dogs since they have a habit of quickly downing food. Still, you should be alert if your dog is excessively vomiting, even on an empty stomach.
Another cause of concern is unexplained diarrhea and stool changes; a dog might experience stool changes with changes in the diet, but you should worry if your dog has an upset stomach on its regular diet.
2) Serious Loss of Appetite
Skipping a meal is a little weird for a dog parent because dogs love food, but it’s not too concerning.
However, a dog skipping all meals and unable to eat even after trying tells you it is in pain and can’t eat food out of fear or discomfort.
3) Excessive Weight Loss
Acorn toxicity might not cause severe and sudden reactions depending on its intensity. A dog that nibbled only a small part of an acorn might experience signs of toxicity over time.
One of the most common signs is excessive and unexplained weight loss because dogs with acorn toxicity can’t eat properly and feel pain/discomfort if they try.
4) Never-ending Signs of Discomfort
You know your dog the best, so you’ll recognize if your dog is in constant pain and discomfort.
Not all dogs will display the same signs, but a dog parent always senses something is wrong.
You must contact the vet if you sense your dog is in constant pain.
Potential Risks when your dog consumes Acorns
You must take your dog to the vet even if you think presenting symptoms are mild because you never know when something could turn out more serious than you expect.
Potential risks of acorn poisoning could trigger severe health conditions, some that will take a long time to heal, while others that could even cause death.
Here are a few potential risks to your dog from acorn poisoning:
Kidney and Liver Problems
Acorn poisoning severely affects the kidney and liver and can damage them enough to risk your dog’s life. A dog might experience urinary problems because of kidney damage and could suffer from kidney failure long-term.
Gastritis and Other Gastrointestinal Problems
Eating an acorn will cause pain similar to stomach acidity, but it could eventually cause gastritis, which is much more serious than you’d think. Some dogs might even get pancreatitis from internal damage.
Although gastritis and pancreatitis are manageable, they can cause lifelong discomfort for your doggo.
Acorns can cause intestinal blockage, which you can treat but might trigger other intestinal problems.
Mental Health Problems
A dog suffering from acorn toxicity will eventually feel depressed, anxious, and vulnerable. A dog can get physically sicker if it has poor mental health, so recovery from acorn toxicity might take longer than possible.
Treatment and Care
Like I’ve said before, there isn’t an antidote that magically extracts the toxins from the body, so it’s extremely important you take your dog to the vet the minute it chews an acorn.
Treatment will typically involve loads of nutritional intake through IV to boost your dog’s health and help it fight the toxin naturally. Vets will also prescribe painkillers and any necessary medicine to improve a dog’s chances.
The recovery from acorn poisoning varies from dog to dog, so it could take up to a few weeks or more. Proper care can speed up recovery.
Are There Dog-safe Tree Nuts?
Can dogs eat acorns? No. But is there a tree nut your dog can eat? Sure!
Hazelnuts are good for your Doggo
Hazelnuts are one of the only tree nuts your dogs can eat.
Pistachios – The nut your dog wants!
Pistachios are safe for dogs to eat, but it’s best to serve in moderation.
Cashews – Tree nut away safely!
Cashews are a delicious dog-safe tree nut.
Preventing Your Dog From Acorn Ingestion
I’ve already explained some other precautions to keep your pup away from the nut, but here’s a quick review.
If you have oak trees in your yard or nearby, you should keep your yard well-maintained if your dog is a snacker.
It can be hard to keep your yard completely free of acorns in the spring and fall, so monitor your dog’s outdoor time closely and try to keep the acorns picked up as much as possible.
You could also cordon off an area of your yard that acorns won’t drop into to keep your pup out of them.
A couple of acorns won’t typically make your dog very sick or even kill them. The biggest risk is an intestinal obstruction in smaller dogs.
Take the necessary precautions to keep acorns out of your dog’s system and save yourself a significant amount of money at the vet.
The Nutty Conclusion
Can dogs eat acorns? No, acorns are extremely toxic to our dogs and us because they contain tannins, a group of acidic toxic chemicals.
Eating acorns will trigger severe reactions in a dog’s body; dogs suffering from acorn poisoning will experience vomiting, stomach problems, gastritis, and possible kidney failure.
You can always look for healthier alternatives like hazelnuts or peanuts.
Keep your dog away from oak trees and acorns if you come across them on your walk. Section off oak trees in your yard and add barriers to prevent accidental consumption.
Is Acorn Squash Good for Dogs?
Yes, acorn squash is a healthy dog-safe squash.
How Many Acorns Can a Dog Eat?
Dogs must not eat acorns because they are highly toxic and can cause kidney failure.
How Often Can Dogs Eat Acorns?
A dog can die from eating acorns, so it must not eat even a single acorn.
Can Dogs Get Sick From Eating Acorns?
Yes, acorns are toxic, so they can make a dog severely sick.
Will Acorns Hurt Dogs?
Yes, acorns are poisonous, so eating them gives a dog severe stomach and other health problems.
Can Dogs Eat Acorns from Oak Trees?
No, dogs must not eat acorns from an oak tree since they are toxic to them.
Are All Parts of an Oak Tree Poisonous to Dogs?
Yes, all parts of an oak tree, including the leaves, stems, barks, and acorns, are highly toxic to dogs.
How Many Acorns are Toxic to Dogs?
Even a single acorn can be toxic to dogs.
Why Are Acorns Dangerous for Dogs?
Acorns contain tannins, an acidic group of highly toxic chemicals. Eating acorns will trigger severe health problems.
Does Eating Acorns Cause Diarrhea in Dogs?
Yes, eating acorns will cause severe diarrhea in dogs because of their toxicity.
Are Small Acorns Toxic to Dogs?
All types of acorns (raw/unripe/green, small, and ripe) are toxic to dogs.
Can Puppies Eat Acorn?
No, puppies must not eat acorns because they are poisonous.
Can Diabetic Dogs Eat Acorns?
No, diabetic dogs must not eat acorns because they are highly toxic and will kill them.