Most dog owners know that, when dogs are outside, they should be watched closely to make sure that they don’t get into anything harmful to them that could make them sick, or worse. Dogs are notoriously curious about the world around them–especially things lying on or growing out of the ground — and want to sniff everything, often putting it in their mouths as well. Do you know if pine cones are safe for your do to eat? We will examine this question further here.
Are Pine Cones Toxic to Dogs?
Pine cones come, of course, from conifer trees known as pine trees. Pine trees have been around for 300 million years, and pine cones were likely eaten by dinosaurs. Pine cones exist to protect the seed produced by the pine tree. Seeds are housed within the pine cone, which stays closed tightly to keep the seeds warm in the winter, opening in the warmer weather to let go of the seeds to create future pine trees.
The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) classifies pine trees as toxic to dogs. Although pine cones are not toxic to dogs, they should not eat or chew on pine cones. Even batting them around with their paws can be unsafe for dogs, as sap or oil from the pine cones can get on their paws, the dog then licks their paws, and that sap or oil will get into their body.
Why, Then, Should I Keep My Dog Away from Pine Cones?
Even though pine cones themselves are not poisonous to dogs if chewed or eaten, there are many good reasons to keep your dog away from pine cones:
- Pine oil, which is produced by the pine tree and pine needles, can be found on a pine cone. Pine oil is known to have a negative effect on the gastrointestinal system of some dogs.
- Sap from pine trees is also often found on pine cones. Some dogs have an allergic reaction to pine tree sap – especially dogs that have other allergies.
- Pine cones can also contain fertilizer, pesticides or other chemicals that were sprayed on pine trees or even have contacted the ground and gotten on the pine cones in that way. These chemicals can be hazardous to dogs.
- Pine cones have very sharp edges that can cut a dog’s throat or stomach if eaten.
- Pine cones or pieces of pine cones could also block a dog’s throat or intestine if eaten, and require surgery to remove.
- If a dog eats pine cones, it can cause them to vomit or not be able to eat, creating even more problems.
What Should I Do If My Dog Eats a Pine Cone?
If you keep an eye on your dog when outside yet they still happen to ingest a pine cone, don’t panic. If you see your dog chewing on a pine cone and aren’t sure if they have eaten any of it, contact your veterinarian immediately. Possible symptoms of ingesting part or all of a pine cone include:
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble breathing
- Trouble walking
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
Any of the above symptoms can also be signs that your dog is having an allergic reaction to the pine cone. Contact your vet right away to find out what to do. You just might save your dog’s life.
How Can I Prevent My Dog from Eating Pine Cones?
If your dog loves to bat pine cones around when outside, there are ways to prevent them from doing so (or from picking them up with their mouths and eating them). Provide other toys when you are outside with your dog, to distract them from the pine cones. If they can focus on a tennis ball or a rubber ball, chances are good that they won’t even notice the pine cones. Also teach your dog to recognize a command such as “drop it.” Learning this command can be helpful in a variety of situations in which you don’t want your dog to eat something they have picked up in their mouth.