Dog Care And Health - Other

The Dangers of Oak Trees and Acorns to Dogs

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Taking your dog for a walk in the woods is one of the joys of dog ownership. However, a common tree may cause your animal to become ill. That tree is the oak. Acorns, tree bark, leaves and buds may all poison a dog.

This poisoning may come from direct ingestion, as some dogs will eat acorns. This is particularly common in teething puppies. Another source of the poisoning occurs when a dog drinks water contaminated by oak leaves. Green acorns are more toxic to dogs than are the mature brown acorns.

The toxin contained in acorns and the other parts of the oak is known as gallotanin. Gallotanin is a combination of gallic acid and tanic acid. Signs exhibited by dogs poisoned by this toxin depend on the amount of toxin ingested.

Dogs with severe gallotanin poisoning may develop potentially fatal kidney failure. Signs of gastrointestinal upset occur in dogs with less severe poisoning. These signs include cramps, vomiting, constipation and diarrhea, which may occasionally be bloody. Some dogs may exhibit seizures with gallotanin poisoning. The onset of signs following ingestion of acorns or other parts of the oak tree may take a few days but some dog owners have reported shorter periods.

The gallotanin within acorns is concentrated in its hard outer shell. A dog biting through an acorn is most likely to release the toxin. The course pieces of the outer shell may irritate the gastrointestinal tract of the dog and exacerbate the signs in the dog.

In addition to poisoning a dog, whole acorns if swallowed intact may block the gastrointestinal tract of a dog particularly that of a smaller breed of dog.

There are no specific treatments for dogs with gallotanin poisoning. Dogs with suspected gallotanin poisoning may require supportive therapy such as intra-venous fluids and pain relief.

Avoidance of the poison is far better than treatment. If a dog shows the tendency to eat non-suitable objects, keep them away from oak trees to prevent them ingesting acorns. Water bowls contaminated by oak leaves should be emptied and filled with uncontaminated fresh water.

Despite the oak tree being common few dogs ever exhibit signs of acorn poisoning. However, if your dog falls ill after appearing to eat acorns contact your vet. Any dog with a form of poisoning requires treatment by a suitably qualified veterinarian.

Reference sources:

Acorns and dogs don't mix by Dr J. Geller DVM Dog

Dangers of Dogs Eating Acorns by Joy Butler Suite

More about this author: Alison Bowler

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