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Seasonal dangers – conkers

At this time of year they can be seen in parks and pavements up and down the country (some people even leave them around the house to ward off spiders), but did you know conkers contain a chemical called aesculin which is poisonous to dogs? Not only that, but larger conkers could also cause an intestinal blockage, especially in smaller breeds of dog.

Severe poisoning from conkers is thankfully a rare occurrence, but illness can occur if your dog decides to munch on more than one. Signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Vomiting/diarrhoea (which may contain blood)
  • Drooling
  • Abdominal pain and reduced appetite
  • Restlessness, wobbliness or muscle tremors may also be seen
  • In severe cases, the dog may become dehydrated and go into shock

These symptoms would normally occur between 1-6 hours following ingestion, but can be delayed for up to 2 days.  Vets usually rehydrate and medicate dogs, and remove chewed up conkers stuck in stomachs. This can be done by giving the dog a drug which induces vomiting. Surgery is only required in rare cases.

If your dog is prone to foraging and eating anything in sight, avoid wooded areas where conkers on the floor are more likely and keep your dog on a lead. If your dog is a particularly keen scavenger, you may even wish to consider a basket muzzle during autumn or taking along a chew toy to distract them from any conkers they start to play with.

If your dog does eat a conker, you should always seek veterinary advice immediately.