Acorns and Dogs Don’t Mix

To some dogs, acorns may look like a delicious snack, but they can be dangerous to your pup!

By | Posted: October 2, 2015, 1 p.m. PST

With acorns and oak leaves covering the ground this time of year, many people do not think much of letting their dogs pick up a leaf or acorn, but the fact is that acorns and oak leaves are both toxic to dogs.  

Dog and Leaves 

Are Acorns and Oak Leaves Safe For Dogs? 

The toxic principle is unknown, but they do contain gallotanins, a combination of gallic acid and tannic acid which can be harmful to dogs causing stomach upset and even kidney disease.  

While some dogs may ingest acorns without severe issues, acorns can commonly cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal upset. This can include bloating, vomiting, diarrhea and general discomfort for your dog. There is also risk of obstruction or irritation from the actual acorns or pieces of acorns especially in smaller dogs.

More serious illness from acorns and oak trees often comes from dogs consuming large quantities of young oak leaves or acorns, but keep in mind, depending on the size of your dog "large quantities" is relative. Signs of more serious illness often include a loss of appetite, increased thirst and urination and lethargy. 

I know of two Chihuahua puppies were seen chewing on a couple of acorns. They developed a bloody diarrhea and their kidney values became markedly elevated. In spite of emergency treatment, they died of renal failure. While death is not a common result, it can happen. 

It's always best to be cautious and contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog has eaten acorns or oak leaves.  


An additional danger to keep in mind is water that has acorns or oak leaves in it. Acorns, oak buds, leaves, and drinking water that acorns and oak leaves have soaked in, have all caused symptoms of oak poisoning in dogs.

If possible, minimize your dogs’ exposure to acorns, and be especially careful that their water bowl is not contaminated.

Oak trees are very common and most people don’t have problems, but they are not the trees of choice to have in a backyard full of pets. Since their are a variety of oak trees, leaves and acorns can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Familiarize yourself with the trees in your area to identify them appropriately and ensure your dog steers clear.  

If you live in an area where acorns are a common occurrence, teach your dog "leave it" and "drop it" commands which are helpful in any situation. Also consider bringing your own healthy treats or toys on walks to help keep your dogs focus away from the acorns.   If the acorns are in your own back yard, make sure to rake leaves and acorns regularly. 

Acorn Fast Facts 

  • Acorns and oak leaves contain a combination of gallic acid and tannic acid which can be harmful to pets.
  • If a dog has eaten an acorn, symptoms can include stomach discomfort, vomiting and diarrhea. 
  • More severe poisoning may occur in smaller dogs or dogs who have eaten a larger quantity of acorns.
  • Because they are hard and sharp, acorns can also cause obstruction and internal damage.
  • Water that has been exposed to oak leaves or acorns (example leaf or acorn falls in water dish) can also be poisonous. 
  • Avoid acorns by brining treats and toys to distract your dog. 
  • If your dog has eaten acorns or oak leaves, always be safe and contact your veterinarian.    

More Dog Poisons You Need to Know About


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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

10/6/2015 4:26:24 AM

We have an oak tree in our yard were my dog plays but she has never even tried to eat of even pick up leaves or acorns. Thanks for the information.

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Michelle   Griswold, Connecticut

9/21/2015 5:56:02 AM

My 3 beagles eat acorns too. I go out daily and pick up as many as I see. But there are thousands. :( I don't know what to do.

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Jim   Des Moines, Iowa

9/18/2015 8:48:33 PM

Sorry, I just wanted to add a quick note to correct my typo BELOW that states:

Our wonderful beast has turned his pee from what was originally almost


Our wonderful beast has turned his pee from what was originally almost BLACK (with so much blood Present)

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Jim   Des Moines, Iowa

9/18/2015 8:39:53 PM

We have a large male German Shepherd that is getting quite old for his breed (9 1/2 years) that has recently had hematuria problems (blood in urine). I am not a doctor or a veterinarian believe me, but my wife has been a microbiologist for many years. We had to take him to a vet that was different from is usual vet due to the fact our usual vet didn't have the proper facilities in order to perform the needed tests on our old beauty such as ultrasounds on his bladder/kidneys etc. Our bill was not a friendly thing. However we did have some much needed general blood tests done that probably should have been done quite a while back truth be known due to his age etc. He miraculously came out with flying colors as far as all the blood tests. His ultrasounds (yes two of them) also came out well with no kidney/bladder stones visible. We were warned that if he happened to have stones in his ureters or urethra the ultrasound likely would not show them and that we may of had to be referred to a specialist (I can just imagine That bill !). To make this long story a bit shorter, my wife being the very good researcher she is and being very inquisitive in general about just what the heck could be causing this problem decided to do a web search about dogs that consume acorns. Fully knowing this dog was eating easily between 50 and 100 or so a day. Much to our surprise she found a few different sites that are known to be very reputable that mentioned hematuria can be caused by acorn consumption/ oak leaves in water in dogs (which we do even change frequently even outdoors even though our prince is an indoor dog). We were absolutely dumbstruck! We went on an all out ACORN CLEANUP WAR! We raked, got out the leaf blower and went crazy and turned this into a second full time job for both of us. Day in and day out we were picking up all the acorns/shells and any part thereof. Thank God the dog has No interest in eating oak leaves even though he does love to eat hackberry tree leaves which are also prevalent in our back yard. We researched those also and they don't appear to be a problem for dogs to ingest. Our wonderful beast has turned his pee from what was originally almost back and full of sediment (white and red blood cells mostly from what I understand) to a nice deep yellow at the first pee of the morning to a mild yellow to totally clear in just about 10 days or so. We are totally convinced that these nasty acorns were totally responsible for all tis mess even though the veterinarian would not admit any knowledge of the possibility and even after doing a short bit of research on the subject. She claimed that she had never heard of such a thing and that she didn't think from her short research that it was even a possibility in dogs as far as it being a potential problem. I'M SORRY BUT I BEG TO DIFFER (No pun intended!).

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