Just like the seeds of the horse chestnut, acorns can also be harmful to dogs and in autumn it is good to be careful that they do not eat them. But if this happens inadvertently, what should you do?
The different risksAcorns are the fruit of the oak tree. Their hard, woody shell protects a single seed: they are green when they grow but turn brown as they mature, ready to fall to the ground, grow a new tree or be eaten by many animals. Dogs, however, are not among them. The broken shell could cause suffocation or even damage the digestive system. The seed inside, on the other hand, contains tannins, toxins that can produce serious effects on the stomach, kidneys and liver.
harmful concentrationsThe tannins have an unpleasant bitter taste, which can put many dogs off eating acorns. However, this does not prevent accidental ingestion. The good news is that eating small amounts of tannins may give a healthy medium-sized dog only a slight stomach ache, but it’s impossible to know how many acorns it takes to make him seriously ill. This is because the concentration of tannins in an acorn changes as it matures. Green, unripe acorns contain higher amounts of tannins, while brown acorns contain less, making them less poisonous. The concentration also varies from tree to tree and from year to year and depends on a number of different factors. And the effect of these toxins depends not only on how much they have ingested but also on the size of the dog, its state of health, since it has eaten since the last time and how long it has chewed the acorn.
Symptoms of poisoningAfter eating an acorn, your dog may feel sick immediately but it may take up to 24 hours for the effects to kick in. Symptoms of acorn poisoning include stomach pain, vomiting, unexplained tiredness and lethargy, unusual agitation or confusion, red and itchy skin, bloody stools, changed appetite and excessive thirst, being unable to walk in a straight line, or turning yellow of skin, gums or eyes. If your dog has eaten acorns, contact your vet for advice even if he has no obvious symptoms. If you are sure he ate green or lots of it, take him to a veterinary emergency room.
How can I stop my dog from eating acorns?It’s good to know that all parts of an oak tree are poisonous to your dog, which includes the leaves, trunk bark and shoots. If your dog is intrigued by acorns and you have seen him try to eat them, rest assured he will do it again: to avoid this it would be better to walk away from the oak trees, keep him on a leash or, in the most serious cases and in the absence of other alternatives, be equipped with a muzzle. To train him not to play with acorns, bring along a ball or chew toy to keep his mouth busy when you walk near oak trees.