Chestnuts, acorns and conkers – potential autumn perils for dogs

If your dog is active and curious like mine then they are likely to sniff and taste just about anything.

My dog loves chestnuts and enjoys foraging for them but are they really safe for him to eat? And how about acorns and conkers should I steer him away from them too?

Are acorns poisonous to dogs?

Acorns are toxic to dogs but they taste bitter so your dog is unlikely to make a meal from them. Acorns are not part of a dog’s natural diet and so it is doubtful they will eat so many that it will cause severe harm.

If your dog has swallowed a few acorns, firstly don’t panic. A few acorns swallowed by an otherwise healthy dog is likely only to cause a mild stomach upset which may include mild diarrhoea and vomiting.

However, if symptoms persist, there is blood in their faeces or you are in any way concerned then it would be a good idea to get them checked out with your vet.

Can my dog safely eat chestnuts?

Sweet chestnuts are healthy for both humans and dogs so your dog can safely forage for them. It is a good idea though to keep the portions small as, while they are not inherently toxic to dogs there is the likelihood they may make your dog sick if they eat too many.

A dog’s digestive system isn’t well suited for ingesting high amounts of nuts and seeds and high-carbohydrate nuts such as chestnuts carry a significant amount of starch which can cause an allergic reaction in dogs that have sensitivities.

So chestnuts only in moderation – just to be on the safe side.

Conkers (horse chestnuts) – should my dog play with them?

Your inquisitive dog may find conkers interesting but it’s important to know the dangers of eating them. Widely found in the UK, conkers are the seeds of the horse chestnut tree but few people realise they can pose a real health threat if ingested.

The shiny brown nuts contain toxins that cause dogs to vomit, collapse and possibly suffer fatal respiratory paralysis. Conkers can also cause a severe blockage in your dog’s digestive system.

If you suspect your dog may have eaten a conker then you should contact a vet for immediate advice. The dog will need rehydrating and medicating and may even have to undergo surgery.

It is best to leave the playing of conkers to the children and not to encourage your dog to catch or play with them.

Click here for a further guide to plants and household substances poisonous to dogs.

If you have any concerns that your dog has eaten something that may be harmful, it is always better to check with your vet to be on the safe side.

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Melina - Assistant Editor

Hi I'm Melina, a mother of 3 teenage children and with a particular interest in all things health related. I run a busy household and smallholding alongside my work with Silversurfers, which currently includes dogs, fish, hens, ducks and pigs!

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