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Can Dogs Taste Acorns?
We all know what acorns are, but they are not an extremely popular food that people eat on a regular basis. In fact, most people are only familiar with acorns because they are easy to find in the lawn and squirrels love to squeeze them into their cheeks! Besides that, acorns are not a hugely popular food.
However, if you do eat acorns on a more regular basis, or if you have a tree with acorns on or near your property, you may wonder if dogs can eat acorns or if they are toxic to dogs. In short, acorns are toxic to dogs in large doses, but the real issue is they can cause an obstruction in the intestines if they are swallowed whole.
Signs of a Dog Getting Sick from Acorns
If your dog accidentally eats some small pieces of acorn, it should not cause any significant issues. Your dog's body will digest and process the acorn just fine, and it will not require any emergency trip to the vet. In the outer, tough shell of the acorn, it contains a substance called gallontannin.
This is a kind of acid that is released when your dog chews on the whole acorn. If they get too much of this acid into their system, signs that it has made them sick include vomiting, diarrhea, and some painful stomach cramping. If your dog happens to get a hold of many acorns, they may even suffer from kidney failure. However, do not panic. A medium to a large dog would have to eat pounds of acorns to get extremely sick from them!
The biggest issue of concern is if they swallow a whole acorn. An entire acorn can get lodged in your dog's intestine and cause a blockage. A blockage is a serious issue because this may turn into a fatal condition. Signs your dog has a blockage include changes in appetite, increased thirst, weakness, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, and being tired all the time. Your dog will require medical attention right away to make sure they recover from an obstruction.
History of Dogs and Acorns
Acorns have been a source of food for thousands of years, even though they are not a favorite source of food today. In fact, acorns also existed before wheat was grown or eaten. Acorns were popular for nutrition among Native Americans, particularly those who resided in California.
Acorns grew in abundance in this state and may have made up to 50% of the Native American's diet. Acorns were such a favorite source of food because they were plentiful, easy to collect, and they stored well for long periods of time. Furthermore, acorns are nutritious and packed with protein, healthy fats, and tons of vitamins and minerals.
It is unlikely that wolves and undomesticated dogs ate acorns as a source of food even if there were lots of acorns around. Wolves and other animals would have focused their hunting efforts of animals and sometimes fish as their primary source of food nutrition. They would have also likely known that acorns were not a good source of food since eating too many of them can cause health issues as we discussed above. Dogs and wolves can use their sense of smell to tell whether food is safe to eat or if it will harm them. Pretty neat, right?
Science Behind Dogs and Acorns
The gallotannin we find in acorns is an acid that can make your dog ill if they consume too much over a specified period. This type of acid is also found in some coffees and teas. As we talked about above, overeating can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pains and cramps that are uncomfortable for your pup.
Even though dogs should never eat acorns, it will take a lot for acorns to become fatal in dogs. If you suspect your dog has eaten a lot of acorns, please speak with your vet or emergency pet facility right away.
Training Dogs to Avoid Acorns
There are a few things you can do to ensure your dog does not eat an acorn or large amounts of acorns. If you keep acorns in your house to eat, make sure your supply is out of reach for your dog and in a closed cabinet so they cannot access them. Never keep them out in the open, like in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Your dog can reach these very easily, and they will likely feel tempted to steal a few or the whole dish and chow down on them.
Where things get a little tricky is if you have an oak tree on your property that has acorns. These acorns will fall off your tree and lie in the grass. Dogs like to eat just about anything that may taste yummy, so it is likely your dog will attempt to eat the acorns on the ground. If this is your situation, you may want to go outside with your dog and keep a close eye on them. If you generally let your dog out alone to go potty, start going with them. You can also follow them on a leash when you take them outside to go to the bathroom as well.
Although inconvenient, you can also make sure to pick up any acorns on the ground before you let your dog stay outside alone. This will ensure they do not have access to the harmful acorns. If none of these solutions make sense for you, you may consider removing the tree from your property as well. It is always sad to lose a tree, but the health and safety of your dog are critical! You want to make sure they don't become poisoned by eating too many acorns or get an obstruction in their intestine if an acorn is swallowed whole.
By a Samoyed lover Kayla Costanzo
Published: 06/14/2018, edited: 04/06/2020
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