Autumn Series: Horse Chestnuts and Acorns

05th October 2023 5 min read

Autumn is a beautiful time of year for walks, however, beneath the leaves can be horse chestnuts and acorns which are toxic. Read on to find out how you can avoid these and what to do if your dog ingests them.

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While autumn is a beautiful time of year, it's crucial for pet owners to be aware of the potential dangers lurking on the ground in the form of acorns and chestnuts. By taking proactive steps to prevent your dog from ingesting these toxic fruits and knowing what to do in case of ingestion, you can ensure a safe and fun Autumn season for you and your furry companion.


Acorns are a fruit coated in a wood-like outer shell and found beneath oak trees. Around Autumn time the acorns are fully mature and fall from the trees, making them easily accessible to dogs. These may be especially appealing to young dogs and puppies.

There are many dangers of acorn ingestion which can vary from mild to acute.

The primary toxin in acorns is tannic acid, which can cause various health issues when consumed in large quantities. The most common issue seen when ingesting acorns is gastrointestinal problems, as tannic acid can irritate the dogs' digestive system.

It's worth noting that all parts of the oak tree are poisonous and have the potential to cause illness, this includes the leaves, bark and buds too! Below is an image of oak tree leaves to help you identify them when out for Autumn walkies!

Signs & Symptoms

If your dog eats one or more acorns, the symptoms can take up to 24 hours to show or they can come on rapidly.

Symptoms include:

  • Vomiting (with or without blood)
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Red Itchy Skin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Shaking
  • Liver Damage
  • Kidney Damage

What to Do If Your Dog Has Consumed Acorns?

If your dog has consumed acorns we recommend speaking with your vet, especially if they present any of the above symptoms. There is a good chance that your dog may not be affected however, it is always best to be cautious and safe.

Horse Chestnuts

Horse Chestnuts are the seeds of chestnut trees and can be found on the ground during Autumn when they become ripe. A spiky green pod covers the chestnuts, whereas sweet chestnuts which are NOT toxic to dogs, have a brown outer casing and you will usually find 2 or 3 chestnuts inside. Horse chestnuts contain only one seed.

The most common issue when consuming chestnuts is digestive problems including an upset stomach and blockages (if the outer casing is consumed). Chestnuts which have been on the ground for some time can become mouldy and develop mycotoxins which are harmful to both dogs and humans too.

Signs & Symptoms

If your dog eats one or more chestnuts, the symptoms can take up to 24 hours to show or they can come on rapidly.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Gagging
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Loss of Appetite

What to Do If Your Dog Has Consumed Chestnuts?

If you suspect that your dog has eaten chestnuts and is experiencing any of the above symptoms, it's essential to take prompt action. Contact your vet to receive advice and explain symptoms and keep your dog calm.

It is recommended to NOT induce vomiting without consulting your vet.

Autumnal walks with your dog can be a wonderful experience, but it's crucial to be aware of the potential dangers that lurk beneath the colourful leaves. Chestnuts and acorns may look harmless, but they can pose serious health risks to your furry companion. By knowing the signs and symptoms of ingestion of these and taking prompt action if needed, you can ensure your autumn outings remain safe and enjoyable for both you and your loyal four-legged friend.

It is important to keep your dog's immune system functioning well, especially during the colder months. Feeding a raw, natural diet with additional immune-boosting superfoods can help reach optimum health.

Check out our Paleo Plus range, all the benefits of high-quality Paleo Ridge meals plus antioxidant superfoods!

Further Reading