Garden expert cautions against this common tree in gardens with dogs

The one plant to avoid in gardens with dogs may not be the one you think

Acorns on oak tree
(Image credit: Tim Graham / Alamy Stock Photo)

The most dangerous plant for your dog during the autumn months may not be the one you think. While many plants are toxic to dogs, with some posing a serious threat, in reality not that many of them are a problem in the garden because most dogs won't really be interested in them. 

The most poisonous plants for dogs include many flowers, shrubs, and bulbs commonly grown in our gardens, but many dog owners successfully grow them without an issue. However, a gardening expert warns that the one plant that does pose a real risk to dogs at this time of year is actually a common tree.

The one tree most poisonous to dogs in autumn

Acorns on oak tree

(Image credit: Jeremy Pardoe / Alamy Stock Photo)

And the tree in question is the common oak. Gardening expert Calum Maddock from Home Now explains that acorns – and conkers, for that matter – can be 'extremely toxic' for your pet 'if eaten in large quantities.'

The problem with acorns, Callum adds, 'is that they are often consumed by pups who are using them as chew toys.' It's not just that acorns are toxic to dogs that's the issue – it's the fact that your dog is much more likely to play with them and eat them than, say, an oleander bush or a flower. 

Dog in garden

(Image credit: Arterra Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo)

How dangerous are acorns? Calum warns that dogs ingesting acorns 'can lead to them becoming lethargic, losing appetite and vomiting.' If you suspect your dog has eaten an acorn or conker, you should take them to your local vet, even if your pet seems fine. 

As with most other aspects of making your garden dog-friendly, prevention is better than cure, so Callum's top tip is to 'watch out for acorns and conkers hiding under piles of leaves.' Clear up leaves regularly (use them to make leaf mould) to make sure you reveal any hidden stashes of acorns. If you have an oak tree growing in your garden, it's also a good idea to pick acorns off your lawn regularly, and to keep puppies and young dogs that tend to chew on things off the lawn until it's clear of all acorns. 

You should also bear in mind that 'unripe (green) acorns are the most harmful', so make sure you get rid of any that are lying on the ground first.  

If it's cats you're worried about rather than dogs, make sure you watch out for plants that are poisonous to cats in your plot to keep them safe this season, too.

Anna writes about interior design and gardening. Her work has appeared in Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, and many other publications. She is an experienced outdoor and indoor gardener and has a passion for growing roses and Japanese maples in her outside space.