Acorn Fest 2012

Having recently moved from Philadelphia to the suburbs with our three dogs, we’ve recently encountered a downside of “country life.” Two of the dogs are completely obsessed with eating acorns, and, unfortunately for us, our new backyard is loaded with them.

Wondering if this is a problem, I visited the go-to place for all things related to pet poisons,, and this is what they had to say:

Acorns (Quercus spp.) contain a toxic principle called Gallotannin. In cows and horses who repeatedly ingest significant amounts, we have seen potentially severe gastrointestinal irritation, depression and kidney damage.

Dogs, however, generally do not forage on acorns as livestock do—and even if they do ingest several acorns, it is usually an acute (single) exposure, not a chronic situation. In these cases, we typically only see mild to moderate gastrointestinal upset, which can include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. However, there is also the potential for mechanical irritation (from the sharp fragmented pieces of acorn), and possible obstruction, should a large amount of acorn material become lodged in the GI tract.


We’d seen some of the “moderate gastrointestinal upset,” usually at 3 am (of course!), and so we decided we’d have to be more vigilant about monitoring the boys’ backyard behaviors. As a result of this, we now more carefully supervise our dogs, stopping them, if we can (they’re speedy!), from eating acorns—or, at least massive amounts of them, but they sure do seem to love them (and be able to sniff them out). We’re doing better, and we certainly know that a little policing now is certainly worth avoiding potential head- and heartache later!

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