Are Pine Cones Bad For Dogs?

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One thing all dog parents know is that dogs like to eat EVERYTHING! They explore the world with their mouths, and while this playfulness and curiosity are part of their charm, it can also get them into trouble.

You have to watch them constantly, especially when they are outdoors because they can get into all sorts of trouble while they play. One of the potentially harmful situations for a dog exploring the outdoors is pine cones. 

Maybe it is the crunchy texture or interesting smell, but dogs seem to like licking and chewing on pine cones. In this blog post, we’ll look at why you should not let your dog play with pine cones, and why.

Are Pine Cones Poisonous? 

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has listed pine trees and pine cones by extension as toxic to dogs. Technically, a pine cone is not toxic to your dog, but the pine cones can contain pine oil and pine sap from their mother tree which are both harmful to your dogs. 

Pine cones also pose the threat of causing blockages and tears in your dog’s digestive system. Some dogs have even had to get pine cones surgically removed from their digestive system after swallowing them. 

Check out this interesting article: My Dog Keeps Gagging, What Is Causing It?

Why Are Pine Cones Bad For Dogs?  

As mentioned before, pine cones are not directly poisonous to dogs. The products (oil and sap) from the pine cone tree and the physical damage that can result from pine cone ingestion are the real culprits. Pine cones are bad for your dog for the following reasons:

1. Pine oil and pine sap can be poisonous

The pine cone tree produces oil from various parts of the pine cone tree like the twigs and needles. Pine oil contains components that can be poisonous to your dog in large amounts. Pine cones can come into contact with pine oil and pine sap from their mother tree and small amounts can be found on the pine cone even after it has fallen off. 

You should not allow your dog to play with pine cones because pine cone oil does not need to be ingested to cause harm. Your dog can absorb pine oil through the skin or breathe it into the lungs as it plays around with it. 

Pine sap from the pine cone tree can also be present in pine cones. The sap is not as dangerous to your dog as the oil. For many dogs, pine sap causes an allergic reaction. If your dog already has other allergies, then it is more likely to be allergic to pine sap as well, so take extra precautions.

2. Presence of pesticides and fertilizers on pine cones

Pesticides and fertilizers are also a concern when your dog plays with pine cones. Pine cones can come into contact with pesticides and fertilizers from their mother tree or the ground. These can cause irritation and allergic reactions in your dog.

3. Blockage of the digestive system

If your dog swallows a pine cone, his digestive system might be blocked. Pine cones are hard and it is difficult for your dog to break them down into small, chewable pieces. Swallowing large chunks of pine cones can cause a blockage in the narrower parts of the digestive system like the throat and intestines. 

A large blockage is likely to need surgical removal, which isn’t going to be too much fun for your dog! 

4. Cuts and tears in the digestive system

A swallowed pine cone is dangerous. Pine cones have sharp edges that can puncture a hole in your dog’s digestive system. This is yet another situation that can require surgery to resolve, depending on how serious the cut is.

5. Other health issues

Gastrointestinal issues are common when dogs swallow pine cones. These issues vary and include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and constipation. These gastrointestinal problems may result in other health problems, like a lack of appetite, lethargy, and nausea.  

Why Are Dogs Attracted To Pine Cones? 

Dogs are attracted to pine cones because they are naturally curious. Like human babies, they tend to explore the world with their mouths and interact with their environment through touching, smelling, and tasting. 

Furthermore, dogs seem to be fascinated by the crisp, crunchy texture of pine cones, so the urge to play with them is strong. The smell of sap on a pine cone can lead your dog to believe that the pine cone is food.

What Should I Do If My Dog Eats A Pine Cone?

If your dog has swallowed a pine cone, the best thing to do is take it to your vet and have them recommend a solution. Do not attempt to make your dog vomit the pine cone as it can sometimes cause more harm. If you suspect your dog may have pine cone poisoning from eating or playing with a pine cone, here is a list of signs to look for:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Skin reactions such as reddening and itching
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Lethargy and trouble walking
  • Breathing difficulty and coughing

If you observe any of these symptoms, contact your vet immediately. They can guide you through first aid procedures to ensure your dog’s immediate safety before you go off to the vet. 

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Eating A Pine Cone?

If you have a pine cone tree in your immediate surrounding, it would be safer to avoid the tree altogether. 

Watch your dog carefully when you’re outdoors and teach a solid “drop it” command, which will have him immediately release the pine cone in the event that he snatches it up.

Whenever your dog has something in his mouth that he shouldn’t, say the cue in a firm voice and offer him a treat. With patience and practice, your dog will learn that the cue means to let go of whatever he is holding. Soon, you’ll be able to enjoy peace of mind knowing that you can get your dog to drop anything, anytime.

Final Thoughts 

Keeping our dogs safe is of paramount importance for all of us as dog parents. By avoiding pine cone trees and keeping a close watch on your dog, you can help prevent some pretty nasty complications if your dog ingests a pine cone! 

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