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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Angela   Stillwater, Oklahoma

1/31/2016 7:44:03 PM

What does this mean

"Avoid acorns by brining treats and toys to distract your dog."

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colleen   deale, Maryland

12/14/2015 9:53:56 AM

My dog Chili would carry acorns in his mouth on a walk - who knows why -

until he ate one that had been partially crushed. He developed hives a few hours later which i treated w/ benedryl but was not sure of the origin of the
until Sunday when he was COVERED with golf ball sized welts. He was on

benedryl every 3.5 hours for the following two days -

It could have been a lot worse. Next year I will be walking him in a different direction come fall. Thank you for this informative article

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Jeff   Oakton, Virginia

12/12/2015 3:56:17 AM

My dog Winston is a Yorkie, he is about 8 years old. He is the sweetest dog, loves everyone even other dogs and wants to say "Hi" to everyone and anyone. On a Sunday he was in a back yard where acorns were present. Mind you he had been around acorns before. It wasn't until late Monday that I noticed a change in his behavior. Lethgery, but I chalked it up to him being tired. Tuesday night he was no better, so Wednesday morning I reached out to our vet, turns out he doesn't work Wednesday. So one more night and Thursday morning we're at the vet, diagnosis acorns. I had no idea that he had eaten them. He's been on a bland diet prescribed by the vet, rebounded a bit Friday morning. But by the evening I could tell he was in trouble, he didn't poop Friday Morning or into the evening. He was distressed, slight wining, neither of us got much sleep. This morning Saturday he managed to poop a small amount, hadn't done that since Thursday morning. I'm worried sick, he's my little buddy and I feel helpless in the face of this. I can tell he's fighting it, being the little trooper he is, right now I'm waiting for the vet's office to open and praying to God he can pull through.

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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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