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Are Acorns Poisonous to Dogs? 5 Signs of a Medical Emergency

Acorns are toxic to dogs, but whether your dog becomes critically ill depends a lot on the amount of acorns eaten, the size of your dog, and the general health of your dog.

A small dog could easily develop an intestinal obstruction after eating acorns whereas a very large dog may be able to pass them through the bowels. That said, size and amount is relative. For example, a small dog doesn’t have to eat a lot of acorns for it to be considered a lot.

  • Acorns come from oak trees and tend to litter the ground during the fall and winter months. It’s important to know that both the oak leaves and the acorns are poisonous for dogs. Acorns and oak leaves contain tannic and gallic acid which can cause a range of problems from stomach upset to kidney failure.

The Reality of Acorn-Eating Dogs

While it’s extremely important to be aware of what goes into your dog’s mouth, it’s unlikely your dog is going to make a meal out of them. He/she will likely experience some stomach upset including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Vomiting and diarrhea should not be left to continue more than 24 hours because of the risk of dehydration.

Nature has a way of making toxins taste bad. Unfortunately, some dogs will gulp down just about anything before tasting. Other dogs, however, will realize they don’t taste anything like the treats at home and will walk away.

When to Worry About Swallowed Acorns

The effects of acorn toxicity may take up to a week to become apparent. That doesn’t mean nothing is happening to the organs, however. A dog might initially experience stomach upset that progresses to more concerning symptoms.

The biggest concern for dog owners should be intestinal blockage or obstruction. When a dog swallows a whole acorn, there’s a risk that it can plug the intestines. When that happens, food cannot travel through the digestive system and waste cannot come out.

5 Potential Signs of a Medical Emergency

In addition to an acorn’s toxicity, the other worry is the chance of intestinal blockage. The only way to remove an intestinal blockage is through surgery. Never attempt to induce vomiting if your dog has swallowed acorns.

Keep an eye on your dog and watch for the following signs of an intestinal blockage.

Acorns are Toxic for Dogs
Thank you to PhotoByJohnCameronUnsplash

#1. Change in Appetite

This won’t happen on a day one, but if you notice a drastic change in how much your dog is eating, take note.

#2. Constipation

A dog’s ability to have a regular bowel movement will depend on the location of the blockage and whether it is partial or full.

#3. Frequent Vomiting

Dogs with an obstruction will tend to vomit frequently because the body is trying to expel the offending object.

#4. Painful Stomach

If your dog has an obstruction, he/she may be crying and pawing at the area. The stomach might look swollen and if you touch it, the dog will withdraw from the pain.

#5. Dehydration

Your dog may not even be able to keep water down. It might appear that he/she is drinking a lot through the day but it may all be coming up in vomit. Dehydration can quickly lead to death and is a medical emergency.

Read: 32 Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs

A licensed Veterinarian is Your Best Bet

If you suspect your dog is experiencing the toxic effects of tannic acid from acorns, make sure to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Explain the signs and symptoms your dog is exhibiting and be prepared to bring your dog in immediately.

Do not panic. Remember, even if your dog is showing signs of sickness, there’s an excellent chance the veterinarian will be able to take care of it. Do not attempt to induce vomiting.

If your dog has swallowed a few acorns, he/she is most likely to experience stomach upset including vomiting and diarrhea. If this continues and you notice blood in the stool, your dog is obviously in distress, is unusually tired, or in pain, it’s a good idea to contact the veterinarian.

Acorns are Poisonous to Dogs because of the Tannic Acid

Things to Keep in Mind

Prevention is always the best measure when it comes to dogs and poisonous plants. However, even the most diligent dog owner can’t be constantly on surveillance. If your dog is prone to nibble on things he’s not supposed to, keeping him away from parks this time of year might be the best solution.

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