Dogs and Conkers – What Happens If My Dog Eats a Conker?

Conkers have been a feature of streets and playgrounds for generations and these impressive seeds mark the changing of seasons from summer, to autumn. However, conkers are highly poisonous to dogs if they are chewed, or ingested. While poisoning is fairly uncommon, it is important to be aware of the dangers – Holidays4Dogs finds out why.

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Conkers are seeds of the horse chestnut tree. This magnificent tree found in many parks and streets across the UK.  During the autumn season the seeds fall to the ground still protected by their spikey green jackets. Once these break open, they reveal the beautiful mahogany seeds inside.

These large, shiny seeds contain a chemical called Aesculin. It is found in all parts of the horse chestnut tree and is toxic to dogs. Dogs would normally need to ingest several conkers to suffer serious damage. Nevertheless, vets across the UK do see quite a few cases during late summer and autumn. Deer are able to eat cockers without any ill effects and squirrels can eat them in small quantities or, stash them away in their winter larder.

Autumn is a lovely season when humans, as well as our four-legged companions, enjoy the great outdoors wrapped up warm in our cosy winter coats. 

Dogs just love foraging in long grass and woodland undergrowth, but this is where conkers may be hiding – under the soft blanket of autumn leaves. Some breeds, such as Labradors and other hunting dogs, may be more inclined to pick up items from the ground. Some owners may not be aware that conkers can be dogs. Many may even throw them for their dog to retrieve – but this is definitely not to be advised.

Signs and symptoms of conker poisoning.

Signs of conker poisoning can occur between one and six hours after the dog has ingested them. However, symptoms can also occur up to two days later. If you suspect your dog has chewed, or eaten conkers – or, anything from a horse chestnut tree, it is important to seek veterinary advice straight away.

  • Vomiting, or diarrhoea, which may contain blood.

  • Drooling.

  • Excessive thirst.

  • Reluctance to eat.

  • Restlessness and muscle tremors.

Treating conker poisoning.

Treatment is one of supporting the dog with medication to induce vomiting and possibly gastric lavage – (rinsing of the stomach). In order to replenish fluids lost from this process, the dog may be hooked up to an an intravenous drip.

Conkers can also cause intestinal blockages. Therefore, while autumn is a fun time for dogs; it can also pose problems for inquisitive and playful ones. Do take extra care with your pooch, if you are planning a family conker hunt. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commission fees by advertising and linking to the following web sites.


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