lots of pine cones

Every pet owner has once said, “What are you eating!?” exasperatedly to their dog. Dogs are chewers by nature, so it’s completely natural for them to explore their environment with their mouths. This can be dangerous, however, as many things in their environment can pose risks if ingested.

One thing your dog may enjoy chewing on when you’re outside for walks is pine cones. While not inherently toxic to dogs, your pooch should not be allowed to chew on or eat pine cones. Keep reading to learn about the dangers of pine cones and what to do to stop your dog from eating them.

What Makes Pine Cones Dangerous?

Several factors make pine cones dangerous for your pup to chew or eat.

  • First of all, the pine cone fibers can break off in your dog’s mouth and create a choking hazard. These fibers can have very sharp edges, which can also cut your dog’s mouth and tongue.
  • Small pine cones can easily be swallowed, leading to blockages.
  • The needs and sap of pine cones can cause irritation and an allergic reaction in some dogs.
  • Some pine cones may come from trees that have been treated with pesticides or fertilizers. If your dog were to chew on one of these treated pine cones, it could be gnawing on these harmful poisons.
  • Since pine cones fall from pine trees, there is a chance that the cone may have pine needles attached to it. Pine needles are not only sharp, but the tree oils they contain can irritate your dog’s mouth and gastrointestinal tract.

What Are the Symptoms to Be on the Lookout For?

While pine cones aren’t toxic, they can cause potentially severe health issues.

If your dog has swallowed a pine cone, you’ll need to be on high alert for signs of intestinal blockages leading to bowel obstructions.

Signs of bowel obstruction to look for include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Whining
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Lack of appetite

You may also notice gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or an upset stomach if your dog chews on (but doesn’t swallow) a pine cone due to allergies or the oil in the cone.

close up of a pine cone
Image courtesy of Pixabay

What Do I Do If My Dog Ate a Pine Cone?

If you witnessed your dog swallow a pine cone, observe it closely for symptoms. You know your dog best, so if it starts to act strangely, you should reach out to your vet or call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 for advice.

If your pup begins to display any of the above-mentioned symptoms, call your vet immediately. Intestinal blockages and bowel obstructions are medical emergencies that need to be treated as soon as possible.

Do not try to induce vomiting or treat your dog at home. Your vet may induce vomiting when you bring your dog in for treatment, but this is something that’s best left to the professionals.

How Can I Get My Dog to Stop Eating Pine Cones?

So, your dog has taken a liking to carrying, chewing, or eating pine cones on your walks, now what? There are several things you can do as a pet owner to prevent your pooch from getting itself into potentially dangerous situations with its infatuation with pine cones.

First, keep it on a leash during all of your walks. This will allow you to keep a closer eye on it and make it easier for you to nip your pup’s pine cone-grabbing habit in the bud. You might also consider bringing along a toy like a tennis ball if you go on a lot of forested hikes. This will give your dog something other than pine cones to carry and focus on.

Training your dog with the “leave it” or “drop it” command is another great way to prevent unwanted behaviors. This will not only come in handy with pine cones but other potentially dangerous things you may encounter on your outdoor adventures.


It’s natural for dogs to want to chew on things, but as a dog owner, you need to know when to draw the line. Chewing or swallowing a pine cone can be very dangerous even though pine cones themselves are not toxic.

Whether your pup has ingested a whole pine cone or swallowed bits and pieces of its fibers, chances are it will encounter some side effects. Reach out to your vet for advice if your dog is acting out of character or is vomiting after eating a pine cone.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay