Can Dogs Eat Pinecones? This Is What Happens When They Do

Walking the dog around the park is an everyday activity that we and our dogs enjoy. Sometimes the park has a lot of pinecones on the ground and our dogs like eating them. But can dogs eat pinecones or are they dangerous for them?

Even though pinecones are not toxic to dogs, they can cause many problems for dogs. Pinecones can severely damage the gastrointestinal system of dogs and cause blockages. There are things you can do to prevent this from happening altogether.

What Are Pinecones And Where Are They Found

Pinecones can be described as the reproductive organs of pine trees. “The main function of a pine cone is to keep a pine tree’s seeds safe.”, according to Michigan State University. They usually fall from the trees during the fall season.

Dogs can encounter these fallen pinecones everywhere in nature, including dog parks. Some people use pinecones for decorations, so you will often find them in your neighborhood. Kids even bring them home for arts and crafts so they can be found in some homes as well.

Why Dogs Like Pinecones

Even though pinecones can harm dogs, they will still seem attractive to them for a few reasons. Sometimes the dog may be hungry and other times it may be bored. Dogs have a habit of picking up things from the ground and chewing them even if these objects don’t have high edibility.

The Texture

Dogs like pinecones because of their texture. These little things are brown, interesting-looking objects that dogs may confuse for toys. They have a scratchy bumpy texture with a crunch when chewed. This seems incredibly enticing, especially for puppies that are teething.

The Smell

The sap from the pinecone has an interesting smell for dogs. This smell will attract the dog’s attention and cause it to lick a pinecone as a way to investigate the scent. The incredibly developed sense of smell that dogs have is one of the main reasons for this behavior.

The Availability

Pinecones can be found everywhere you go. From the dog park to the neighborhood yard, and sometimes even in our own homes. The fact that they are so available increases the chance that a dog will become interested and eat one.

What Happens If My Dog Eats Pine Cones?

Pinecones are not always poisonous to dogs. Pines do contain a component called andromedotoxin which stimulates the heart. In high amounts, it will increase the heart rate and even cause death. Because of that, dogs should not eat pinecones.

Besides this, pinecones can damage the gastrointestinal system because of their sharp edges and needles. Additionally, the sap from pinecones irritates the gastrointestinal tract causing the dog to become sick. They may also get contaminated with pesticides which are toxic.

Dangers Of Dogs Eating Pinecones

Eating small amounts of pinecones will not do anything to your dog. However, larger amounts can cause all kinds of detrimental effects.

Lethargy And Losing Appetite

Once a dog eats pinecones, it may become lethargic due to a toxin called thujone, found in the seeds inside pine cones. Then it may also lose its appetite and start having problems with walking properly. Regarding the effects of the toxin, Dr. Aviva Romm et al. explain that:

If consumed internally, thujone can be neurotoxic, convulsant, and hallucinogenic. Long-term or excessive use of thujone-rich products can cause restlessness, vomiting, vertigo, tremors, renal damage, and convulsions.

Stomach And Throat Irritation

Pinecones irritate the stomach lining and can cause vomiting as soon as 30 minutes after being consumed. Pinecone sap can irritate a dog’s throat, inflame it, and cause it to swell up. This will make swallowing hard. Then, the dog may start drooling excessively.

Excessive Thirst, Urination, And Diarrhea

These dogs may also start drinking a lot of water and then urinate excessively, sometimes in inappropriate places. Finding odorless wet spots left by your dog can be a sign of this. They may also experience diarrhea and abdominal discomfort from the pine needles.

Choking Hazard And Intestinal Blockage

Little pinecones can also get stuck in a dog’s throat and cause problems with breathing. They may also get stuck in the digestive system causing a blockage. If pinecones have pesticides or fertilizer on them, they can also damage the dog’s kidneys. “In most cases, symptoms may be seen in the first few minutes after exposure but can be delayed for up to a few days.”, says Dr. Veronica Higgs.

What To Do If Your Dog Ate A Pinecone

Knowing the symptoms of pinecone ingestion in dogs, there are things you can do to help the dog. You need to observe your dog for any symptoms that indicate that it ate a pinecone. Examine the environment and notice if the dog’s behavior has changed or if there are any changes in the canine’s health. 

If no symptoms occur, the dog probably ate a bit and no danger is present. However, once more serious symptoms are present, you need to act fast and take it to the vet. If the dog is choking at the moment, use the Heimlich maneuver to prevent asphyxiation and then take it to the veterinary care doctor.

Preventing Dogs From Eating Pinecones

It is always to prevent complications rather than treat them. Luckily, you can do a few things to prevent your dog from eating pinecones.

Use A Proper Leash

A good leash is an essential tool when walking your pup. It helps you prevent your dog from running away and lets you control its movement. If your dog doesn’t listen to you and goes after pinecones to eat them, make sure to keep it leashed and close to you so you can prevent that. 

Don’t stay on your phone while walking the dog and keep your attention on your dog and its behavioral issues. This is a good way to deal with its problematic behavior.

Keep A Clean Environment

To prevent your dog from eating pinecones, you first have to get them out of its sight. Dogs love picking things up from the ground during their nature exploration, and oftentimes the ground is filled with pinecones.

If you have a bigger yard, once fall comes and leaves start to change colors, get a rake and clean up all the leaves, pinecones, and debris from the yard. If you are out with your dog keep an eye on fallen pinecones and get a flashlight if you are walking during the evening.

Create Barriers

Another way to prevent dogs from eating pinecones is to create a barrier between your dog and the fallen pinecones. Buy a fence that can surround the pine tree growing in your yard. That way, the dog won’t be able to get to the pinecones. This might not be as effective for dogs that are named escape artists, like the Husky.

There are also fences made for dogs that restrict their movement and prevent them from running away.

Train Accordingly

The best way to control your dog’s movement and prevent it from eating pinecones is to train dogs not to eat non-food items. Teach some basic commands to your dog like “drop it” and “come”. To properly use training and discipline, you need to do some obedience training techniques and positive reinforcement. 

This will take some time and persistence, but it will be very beneficial to you in the future. If you can’t train your dog properly, getting it a basket muzzle will also do wonders. You can also feed your dog before the walk to prevent it from eating outside.


So Can Dogs Eat Pinecones?

Pinecones can be a beautiful sight in autumn, but they can also be very problematic for dogs. These little brown objects have a very interesting texture and smell that attracts all dogs. The fact that they are so abundant also doesn’t help.

Dogs are curious creatures and they will sometimes approach these objects and try chewing and ingesting them. This can cause serious damage to dogs. The hard texture of pinecones can irritate the dog’s throat, stomach, and intestines, causing symptoms like swelling, vomiting, and diarrhea. 

Some toxins can also get ingested and cause lethargy, excessive thirst, and even seizures. To prevent your dog from eating pinecones in the future, you should train it properly. Use obedience training on buy it a basket muzzle to prevent it from eating things on the ground. You should also walk it on a leash and clean its environment from pinecones.


Do pine cones have bugs?

Pinecones can attract all kinds of insects when they are on the ground. These insects feed on the pinecones. When your dog starts eating these pinecones, it may stumble upon some insects that can cause diseases.

Can dogs eat acorns?

Just like dogs can’t eat pinecones, they also can’t eat acorns found on the ground. These little hard objects contain a toxic component called tannic acid, which causes stomach problems like stomachache, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Can dogs eat horse chestnuts?

No, dogs cannot eat horse chestnuts. They contain a toxin named aesculin that can cause stomach upset. Vomiting and diarrhea are among the possible symptoms that horse chestnuts can cause.

More dog nutrition resources

Here are a few other resources talking about giving certain foods to dogs and the effect they have on their health.

You can find a lot more information on the types of food you can feed your dog on our site Dogisa!

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