Can acorns kill dogs? Beware of these autumn dangers…

Children love collecting conkers and acorns, but can acorns kill dogs? Did you know that both of these autumnal produce can both prove deadly to your dog? 

If your pet ingests these nuts, they could become seriously ill. Yet many people are unaware of these risks.    

Can Acorns Kill Dogs? | Autumn Dangers

Acorn are dangerous for your dogs for three reasons

Firstly, acorns contain a chemical called gallotannin. This can make your dog seriously unwell. Occasionally, it can prove fatal.

As well as being found in acorns, gallotannin is also found in young oak leaves. The ingestion of gallotanin can cause tiredness, pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Additionally, it can cause damage to the liver and kidneys

Secondly, acorns can be a choking hazard as they are just the right size to cause breathing issues for your pet.

Thirdly, if your pet manages to eat an excessive amount of acorns, they can cause an obstruction in your dog’s digestive tract.


Conkers are dangerous for your dog for two reasons

Firstly, they contain a chemical called aesculin which is toxic to dogs. This chemical is contained in all parts of the horse chestnut tree, including the leaves.

Secondly, the large conkers can also cause a blockage in your pet’s stomach. 


What are the symptoms to watch out for?

If your pet eats conkers, they may: vomit, collapse, have diarrhoea, become restless with the discomfort and pain, become severely dehydrated, or go into toxic shock.

In extreme, but rare cases, dogs can experience respiratory paralysis and die. 


How soon do signs of poisoning show?

Your dog may not show signs of being ill for a couple of days. However, some dogs show signs of being poisoned within just hours after consuming the conkers.


What to do if you think your dog has eaten a conker or acorn?

Contact your vet straight away for advice.


What could your vet do?

In rare cases, when the conkers or acorns have blocked your pet’s digestive tract, your pet may need surgery.

However, in most cases of poisoning your pet will need to be rehydrated and have medication. Furthermore, any remnants of chewed up nuts will need to be removed.


Is there anything I do to prevent my dog from eating conkers and acorns?

Dogs are curious creatures and love to explore when they are out. If possible, keep a watchful eye on them when they’re around conkers and acorns.  

Avoid walking in oak forests and around horse chestnut trees during Autumn.

If you have oak or horse chestnut trees in your garden, make sure you regularly clear away the fallen nuts from the grass.

Never encourage your pets to catch or play with the nuts.

If they show signs of becoming unwell and you are concerned, contact your vet as soon as possible. 

Distraction can be an effective technique so take a dog toy with you on your walks.


How to respond if you think your dog has eaten something poisonous?

Always contact your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested anything that could do them harm.

Never watch and wait. Many symptoms can take hours or days to manifest. By that time, it could be too late. 

Always take any remains of what has been eaten with you to the vet. This will help them to estimate just how much has been ingested.  

The vet will also be able to establish exactly what it was and work out if there is an antidote.

can acorns kill dogs first aid for pets

Dog, Australian Shepherd jumping in autumn leaves over a meadow


If you are concerned about your pet and would like advice, please call 01202 509000 or visit for more information.


Important to know!

Don’t try and make your dog sick as this can sometimes cause other complications, which can also make your dog unwell.


Get your free copy of our e-book on how to help your dog if they are poisoned, click here:

Read our other article on common poisons to be aware of it the garden:

We cover poisoning on both our practical and online first aid for pet courses. We will alert you to some of the most common poisons that can make your dog ill, explain what signs and symptoms they might experience and give you clear first aid guidance to help.


Written by Emma Hammett RGN


First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

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