What is Acorn Poisoning in Dogs? All You Need to Know

Published on Aug 10, 2023 12:00 AM
What is Acorn Poisoning in Dogs? All You Need to Know

Acorns, those small, seemingly harmless nuts that decorate our paths and gardens, may pose a significant threat to our canine companions. 

Generally, to humans, these are considered non-toxic; however, they can be highly toxic to dogs if ingested in large quantities. 

As responsible pet owners, it's crucial to be aware of the potential dangers of acorn poisoning.

This all-inclusive blog will discuss everything about the poisoning caused by eating acorns in dogs. 

So keep reading to ensure the safety and well-being of your furry friend when it comes to acorn encounters.

What Is an Acorn?

Before delving into the potential dangers of acorns for dogs, let's start with a basic understanding of what an acorn actually is. 

Acorns are the nuts produced by oak trees, typically found in autumn when they fall from the branches. 

A hard outer shell (cupule), which protects the seed inside, encases these small, oval-shaped nuts. 

Are Acorns Poisonous to Dogs?

While acorns are not inherently toxic to dogs, they can still pose a significant risk to their health on ingestion.

The main concern with acorns lies in their high tannin content. 

Tannin is a natural compound in various plants, and it's toxic to dogs when they consume it in large quantities. 

Ingesting large amounts of acorns can lead to a condition called acorn poisoning.

Symptoms of Acorn Poisoning in Dogs

The condition can cause a range of symptoms in dogs. 

The signs may vary depending on the amount of acorns consumed and the dog's size. 

Some common signs of the condition include:

Gastrointestinal distress

The presence of tannins in acorns can irritate the dog’s digestive system and lead to gastrointestinal upset. 

So they may experience:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea and
  • Sometimes both 

Abdominal pain

Dogs that ingest acorns may exhibit signs of abdominal discomfort or pain.

In most cases, they:

  • Feel restless
  • Exhibit a hunched posture
  • Show signs of discomfort when someone touches their abdomen

Loss of appetite

Acorn poisoning can cause dogs to lose interest in food. They may refuse to eat or show a significant decrease in their appetite.


Dogs with acorn-poisoning may appear lethargic, weak, or less active than usual. They have low energy levels and show reluctance to engage in regular activities.


Vomiting and diarrhea resulting from acorn ingestion can lead to dehydration in dogs. 

The common signs of dehydration include:

  • Dry gums
  • Decreased skin elasticity
  • Excessive panting

How much acorn eating makes dogs ill?

The amount of acorns required to make a dog ill can vary depending on factors such as:

  • Size of the dog
  • Specific species of oak tree
  • Dog's individual sensitivity

In general, ingesting a large number of acorns or repeated consumption over time increases the risk of toxicity. 

Even a few acorns can cause the condition in smaller dogs or those with a more sensitive digestive system.

It's important to note that the toxic effects of acorns are cumulative. 

What to Do if My Dog Eats Acorns?

If you suspect that your dog has eaten an acorn, it is important to take action promptly. 

Here are the steps you should follow:

Assess the situation

Try to determine the approximate amount of acorns your dog has ingested and whether any symptoms are already present. 

This would help you discuss the situation with your veterinarian.

Contact your veterinarian

Call your veterinarian or the nearest emergency animal hospital to seek professional guidance. 

Describe the situation and any symptoms your dog may be experiencing.

 Monitor your dog

Keep a close eye on your dog's behavior, appetite, and bowel movements. 

Note any changes or worsening symptoms.

Prevent further access to acorns

Remove any remaining acorns from your dog's reach to prevent further ingestion. 

This means limiting access to certain areas of your yard or avoiding walks in areas with abundant acorns.

Follow the veterinarian's advice

Your veterinarian may advise you to bring your dog in for an examination or provide specific instructions for at-home care. 

Follow their recommendations carefully and provide any prescribed medications as directed.

Remember, early intervention is key when it comes to acorn poisoning.

Treatment for Acorn Poisoning

When it comes to this poisoning condition in dogs, prompt and appropriate treatment is crucial. 

If you suspect your dog has ingested acorns and is showing poisoning symptoms, immediately seek veterinary assistance.

They will evaluate your dog's condition and determine the most suitable course of treatment. 

Here are some common treatment approaches for the condition:

Inducing vomiting

If your dog has recently ingested acorns and is showing no symptoms yet, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to prevent further absorption of toxins. 

This is typically done using a medication or by administering hydrogen peroxide.

Fluid therapy

Acorn poisoning can lead to dehydration, especially if vomiting and diarrhea are present. 

The veterinarian may administer intravenous fluids or provide subcutaneous fluids to restore and maintain hydration.

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is often used to absorb toxins in cases of poisoning. 

The veterinarian may administer activated charcoal to help prevent the absorption of harmful substances from the acorns.


Depending on the specific symptoms your dog is experiencing, the veterinarian may prescribe medications to

  • Alleviate gastrointestinal distress
  • Control vomiting
  • Address other complications related to the condition 

Monitoring and supportive care

Your dog may need to be hospitalized for close monitoring and supportive care. 

This allows the veterinarian to assess:

  • Dog’s condition
  • Provide appropriate treatment
  • Address any complications that may arise

Are all parts of oak trees poisonous to dogs?

While acorns are the primary risk of dog poisoning, other parts of oak trees can also be toxic. 

For example, oak leaves contain tannins like acorns, which can cause gastrointestinal upset if dogs ingest them in large quantities. 

Additionally, oak bark and oak tree sap may contain toxic compounds that can be harmful to dogs. 

So you should prevent your dog from chewing on or ingesting any part of an oak tree, including leaves, bark, acorns, or sap.

How to stop my dog from eating acorns?

Prevention is key when it comes to protecting your dog from acorn poisoning.

Here are some ways to stop your dog from eating acorns:

Supervision and leash control

Keep a close eye on your dog when walking or playing in areas with oak trees.

Besides, you should use a leash to maintain control and prevent your dog from foraging for acorns.

Training and "leave it" command

Teach your dog "leave it" command to discourage them from picking up and consuming acorns. 

You can do that through consistent training. This would help redirect their attention away from acorns and reinforce desired behaviors.

Environmental modification

If you have oak trees on your property, consider creating physical barriers. 

You should also use fencing to restrict your dog's access to areas where acorns may be present. 

This can prove a helpful way to minimize the risk of ingestion.

Behavioral enrichment

Provide your dog with

  • Soft toys
  • Chew treats
  • Mental stimulation

Doing so will keep them occupied and less interested in foraging for acorns. 

When should I contact my vet?

It is important to contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has ingested acorns or if they are showing any signs of acorn poisoning. 

Some situations that demand immediate veterinary attention include:

Ingestion of a large quantity of acorns

Even if your dog is not showing symptoms initially, significant ingestion of acorns can lead to toxicity. 

So it’s important to seek professional advice to prevent potential complications.

Persistent vomiting or diarrhea

If your dog has been vomiting or experiencing diarrhea for an extended period, you should not delay consulting your veterinarian. 

The symptoms can lead to dehydration later and require medical intervention.

Signs of abdominal pain or discomfort

You must visit your vet, if your dog shows signs of abdominal pain, such as 

  • Restlessness
  • Hunched posture
  • Sensitivity when touched

This would help the veterinarian assess the severity of the condition and provide appropriate treatment.

Lethargy and loss of appetite

If your dog becomes lethargic, weak, or shows a significant decrease in appetite, it may indicate a more severe case of acorn poisoning. 

These symptoms require prompt veterinary evaluation and care.

Remember, it is always better to err on the side of caution and consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about acorn ingestion by your dog. 


Acorn poisoning can pose a serious threat to dogs. So being aware of the risks and taking appropriate precautions is essential.

If your dog ingests acorns and shows poisoning symptoms, seek veterinary assistance immediately to ensure prompt treatment. 

Prevention is key; take steps to stop your dog from eating acorns, such as supervision, training, and environmental modification. 

By being proactive and vigilant, you can help protect your beloved canine companion from the dangers of poisoning resulting from acorn ingestion.

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Can acorn poisoning be fatal to dogs? 

Acorn poisoning can be fatal to dogs, especially if they ingest a large quantity or prompt veterinary treatment is not provided. 

Are all species of oak trees equally toxic to dogs? 

All parts of oak trees, including acorns, leaves, and bark, contain varying levels of toxins. However, the specific toxicity can vary between different species of trees. 

How long does it take for symptoms of acorn poisoning to appear in dogs?

The onset of symptoms can vary depending on the individual dog and the quantity of acorns ingested. 
In some cases, signs appear within a few hours, while in others, it may take several days.