Acorns fall from oak trees between September and November and are an important source of food for many birds and some mammals, such as squirrels, but for many animals – including our beloved dogs – they are extremely poisonous, and because of climate change they are set to ripen 10-13 days earlier.
In short, dogs should not be allowed to eat or pick up acorns during their Autumn walks. Acorn toxicity can cause your dog to become gravely ill or die.
Why acorns are toxic to dogs
Many animals are susceptible to Quercus – or oak bud/acorn – poisoning, but cattle and sheep are affected most often. However, horses and dogs can become very ill if they consume acorns or oak leaves.
Most species of oak are considered toxic. If animals eat young oak leaves, during the spring, or acorns, during the autumn, symptoms of poisoning can begin to display within hours or after several days. However, if you are concerned that your animal has eaten anything that could be poisonous, rather than waiting for any symptoms to appear, you should consult a veterinary surgeon immediately.
Symptoms of acorn poisoning in dogs
The specific symptoms of acorn poisoning may vary between species, but include:
- vomiting and diarrhoea
- abdominal tenderness
- rapid weight loss
- loss of appetite
- tiredness and extreme fatigue
These acids also damage the kidneys, causing them to stop working so toxins which are normally excreted in the urine build up in the body and cause problems in the brain and the rest of the body, and can ultimately result in death.
Dogs can become ill if they consume acorns
Dr Samantha Gaines, of the RSPCA:
“It is difficult to watch your dog’s every movement but if owners are concerned that their dog will show interest in, or eat, acorns then it would be best to find a different place to exercise their dog away from where oak trees are present or take along something really tasty like a toy or treat so that their pet can be easily distracted and recalled.”
Although rarely reported, according to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS), there have been some cases of severe acorn poisoning in horses. They can suffer from a range of symptoms, including colic, haemorrhagic diarrhoea, weakness, head pressing, and incoordination.
What to do if you suspect acorn poisoning in your dog
If you are concerned your animal may have been poisoned, from acorn consumption or anything else, contact your vet and tell them when, where and how you think the poisoning occurred. In poisoning cases, time is of the essence so do not hesitate. Always better to be safe than sorry.
Follow your vet’s advice and never attempt to treat or medicate your pet yourself. Never attempt to make your dog vomit on your own and do not use salt water, which can make a perilous situation worse.