7 Time-Sensitive Answers to the Question…”Are Acorns Poisonous to Dogs?”

Our homes and yards are dangerous places when looked at from a child’s or pet’s point-of-view. Detergents, plants, and certain foods can all play a role in your dog’s overall wellness. Poison Control receives a number of calls each year and are sometimes asked…are acorns poisonous to dogs?

Technically, the answer is yes. However, a number of variables are at play here including exactly how many acorns the dog ate, the size of the dog, and the overall health of the dog otherwise.

Clinical signs of acorn or oak poisoning happen within 3 to 7 days of eating a large number of acorns.

Acorns and oak leaves are both toxic to dogs, and it is important to be aware of the following clinical signs if you suspect your dog has swallowed any:

#1 Intestinal Blockage

Dogs with intestinal blockage will have tender bellies, lack of appetite, weight loss, constipation, vomiting or diarrhea.

Small Dogs have a greater potential for experiencing intestinal blockage, depending on the amount eaten.

Large Dogs are also at risk, depending on the amount eaten. However, a large dog is more likely to be able to pass one acorn. Nevertheless, the more serious clinical indication would be whether the dog has an allergic reaction and how the toxins affect the organs.

#2 Swollen Lymph Nodes

Acorns are poisonous to dogs, and the situation is compounded if the dog is allergic to them.

Clinical Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Poisonous Oak includes swollen lymph nodes, raised bumps or skin swelling. The dog might be extremely itchy and, if not treated right away, the dog’s skin may blister and ooze.

Look for swollen lymph nodes by gently palpating your hand around the dog’s jaw, neck, shoulders, groin and armpit.

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#3 Jaundice

Jaundice, which involves yellowing of the skin, occurs when there is liver damage. This is a serious condition that must be treated right away.  Look at the skin on the dog’s stomach where the fur is traditionally lighter (most breeds). If you see any signs of yellowing skin or yellowing of the eyes, you will need to bring your dog to the veterinarian.

NOTE: In the case of a brush with poison oak, the dog does not have to actually ingest the plant to experience toxic and allergic reactions. The chemical in the plant simply needs to brush against the dog’s skin.

#4 Worst Case Scenario

In the worst-case scenario of a dog being poisoned by acorns or oak leaves, a few things could happen:

  • Kidney Failure
  • Liver Damage
  • Severe Respiratory DistresS

#5 Best Case Scenario

In the best case scenario, the dog:

  • ate only a very small amount for his/her size.
  • was able to get treatment right away
  • the toxicity of acorns did not damage the dog’s organs
  • just because your dog ate ONE acorn doesn’t necessarily mean he/she will become sick. Again, there are a number of factors at play here including the size of the dog, the amount eaten, and whether the dog is allergic to them or not.
Acorn poisoning isn’t an immediate reaction and it might take some detective work to figure out the problem. Ask yourself:  Has my dog been outside and near oak trees recently? Is there anything else my dog could have gotten into?
 
Signs of acorn poisoning might take a few days to develop but the minute you suspect anything, it’s important to bring the dog to the emergency pet clinic as soon as possible.

 

#6 SOME STATISTICS

The most recent statistics on pet poisonings come from the ASPCA who report that they’ve received over 167,000 phone calls related to pet exposure to toxic substances in 2010, and the numbers continue to rise.

Not every call was related to acorn poisoning. As of 2016, The ASPCA.org report the following top toxins for pets:

  • garbage products including herbicides and fungicides (2.6%)
  • Plants (5.2%)
  • Rodenticides (5.5%)
  • Insecticides
  • Chocolate (7.9%)
  • Household Items (cleaning supplies, pain, etc.)
  • Veterinary Products (over-the-counter supplements for joints and pain medications at 9.3%)
  • Food (onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, alcohol and other human foods)
  • General over-the-counter products (16.7%)
  • Human prescription medications (17%)

In 2009 the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center handled:

  • 45,816 calls involving prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements
  • 29,020 calls related to insecticides
  • 17,453 calls pertaining to people food
  • 7,858 calls related to ingestion of common house and garden plants
  • 7,680 for veterinary medications
  • 6,639 related to rodenticides
  • 4,143 for household cleaners
  • 3,304 related to heavy metals (lead, zinc, and mercury)
  • 2,329 for fertilizer and other garden products
  • 2,175 for household and automotive chemicals

#7 What to Do If You Suspect Acorn Poisoning in Your Dog

  • Phone the veterinarian and explain the clinical signs your dog is exhibiting.
  • Tell the veterinarian if you suspect the dog may have eaten a poisonous plant.
  • The veterinarian will be able to tell you whether this is a serious emergency or not, based on the details of your conversation.
  • If the veterinarian cannot see the dog immediately, there are a few things you can do to keep your dog comfortable until then:

Aloe Vera Plants can be cut open and the salve rubbed over the dog’s itchy skin for comfort.

Elizabethan Collar will prevent the dog from digging at his skin and making it worse.

Cool air flow around the dog will keep him more comfortable.

Ask the veterinarian before hanging up, what you can do at home to keep your dog comfortable.

Ask a pharmacist what over-the-counter options might be safe for a dog. Benadryl is an antihistamine that has been used on pets to settle allergies. Benadryl will help reduce swelling and ease the dog’s comfort level.

REMEMBER THIS FOR YOUR OWN PEACE OF MIND:

The majority of dogs are treated and regain their health rather quickly. A lot depends on the size of the dog, the dog’s age, and his overall health.

There have only been a few rare cases of death documented and these were dogs who were quite small who had eaten a high number of acorns (upwards of 30 or more).

GOOD FOR YOU FOR CARING ABOUT YOUR DOG SO MUCH. Being a dog owner is a huge responsibility and it’s nice to see that people care so much.

There are plenty of articles here to keep you busy, including tips on keeping your dog safe from worm infestations.

You work hard to keep your dog happy and healthy and you deserve a reward. Click here to get your free gift, no strings attached.  (Psssst:  It’s a Dog Sitter Cheat Sheet).

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