Conkers, also known as horse chestnuts, are commonly found in autumn. Your dog may have spotted them scattered on the ground beneath trees whilst out for walkies. Children often collect them for the game of conkers, but what risk do they pose to dogs? In this blog, we’ll explore are conkers poisonous to dogs and what precautions you should take to keep your pets safe.


conker on floor

What Are Conkers?

Conkers are the seeds of horse chestnut trees (Aesculus hippocastanum) [1]. They have a shiny brown appearance and are encased in a spiky husk. These seeds are often mistaken for edible chestnuts, which come from a different tree species altogether.

Toxicity to Dogs

Conkers are considered toxic to dogs. They contain a compound called aesculin, which, when ingested, can cause various symptoms ranging from mild to severe [2]. The level of toxicity can vary depending on the amount consumed and the size of the dog. They are also a choking hazard due to their size [1].

dog eating an autumn leaf

Symptoms of Conker Poisoning in Dogs

If a dog consumes conkers, they may experience the following symptoms [2]:

Vomiting and Diarrhoea: This is often one of the first signs of conker ingestion, and blood may be observed. These symptoms can lead to dehydration if not treated promptly. Ensure your dog has fresh water available and consider feeding your dog Butcher’s Recovery & Revive to soothe their stomach and get them back on track.

Lethargy: The dog may become unusually tired or lethargic and may be wobbly and shaky when they do try to move.

Loss of Appetite: A sudden disinterest in food or a decrease in appetite may occur.

Increased Thirst and Urination: Increased water consumption and frequent urination can be observed.

Agitation or Restlessness: The dog may appear anxious or restless whilst exhibiting signs of discomfort or pain in the abdominal area.


Treatment for Conker Poisoning

In severe cases, ingestion of conkers can lead to more serious symptoms such as muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, and even collapse. If you suspect your dog has consumed conkers or is showing any concerning symptoms, it’s crucial to contact your Vet immediately [2].

Treatment for conker poisoning typically involves inducing vomiting to remove the conkers from the stomach. Supportive care, including administering fluids to rehydrate your dog, medications to control vomiting or pain, and close monitoring, may also be necessary [1].

pug on autumn walk

Prevention and Precautions

Prevention is always better than treatment when it comes to your beloved dog’s health. Here are some precautions to take to minimise the risk of conker poisoning in your dog:

Keep Conkers Out of Reach: Be vigilant during walks and outdoor activities to prevent your dog from picking up or consuming conkers. Take other toys out with you so you can distract them where required [2]. Be aware of areas where conkers are prevalent and take appropriate precautions to avoid them. If you do see your dog chewing on a conker, calmly take it out of their mouth if it is safe to do so [2].

Supervise Your Dog: Ensure your dog is under control during walks to prevent them from ingesting potentially harmful items. Consider walking your dog on a lead at all times if walking through wooded areas over autumn [1]

Educate Your Family and Friends: Ensure that everyone in your household and those who interact with your dog are aware of the risks associated with conkers and the importance of keeping them away from pets.

Are conkers poisonous to dogs?

In conclusion, conkers are indeed poisonous to dogs, and it’s essential to be proactive in preventing your furry friend from coming into contact with them. By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, you can help keep your dog safe and healthy during the autumn season. If you suspect your dog has ingested conkers or any other toxic substance, seek immediate veterinary attention for proper diagnosis and treatment.


[1] The Kennel Club: Conkers

[2] Blue Cross: Are Conkers Poisonous to Dogs? 



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