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Conkers are bonkers

Conkers are bonkers

Conkers are bonkers

Conkers are poisonous to dogs - what should you be aware of if your dog eats one? Keep reading to understand the effects and symptoms of toxins from Conkers. 

Autumn brings risks

So its well and truly Autumn, and whilst the weather has been quite warm still (But very wet!) – the leaves are dropping and changing colour. I’m actually looking forward to those fresh frosty dry mornings when I can be all wrapped up in a big wolly jumper and hat.

Spiders though are looking for warmth and venturing indoors – I can’t say as I’m a fan and was told about putting Conkers down in the corners of rooms to keep spiders out. Now I’m not sure if this works or not as I’m proud to say my Boy is a super spider catcher (Yes he does also eat them but hey they are disposed off so… ) Now I know spiders play there role in ecology and outside – I wouldn’t wish them any harm but I hate the idea of them crawling on me!! But I digress…. CONKERS… My point is Conkers may help keep the spiders away but they are bad for dogs! 

What are Conkers? 

So what actually is a Conker? A conker is a shiny, round, red-brown seed from a horse chestnut tree. They are very common and you will see them on the ground along with the green spike pods they grow in. 

Why are Conkers bad for my dog? 

Every part of the Horse Chestnut tree including the Conkers contain a poison called Aesculin which is toxic to dogs. The level of toxin per conker can vary from tree to tree so its tricky to say how many Conkers would pose a risk to your dogs health. It is also impacted by your dog - its size, age, health & even how full there tummy is for example. How they ate the conker will also affect the absorption of the toxin - if they chewed or swallowed the shiny little nut!   which can cause a dog to be sick or may upset their stomach. If enough is eaten it can also produce more serious effects, and in rare cases can be deadly.

Signs of Poisoning

Conkers are bitter and a dog would likely need to eat several to suffer severe poisoning but in rare cases it could be deadly. However conkers could cause sickness or upset stomach and the impact may not be seen immediately. The signs of poisoning can occur anything from an hour to a couple of days. These are some symptoms to look out for- 

  • stomach upset
  • disorientation
  • seizures / tremors
  • difficulty breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • Vomiting 
  • Thirst
  • Restless
  • Dribbling 

Aside from the toxicity – if dogs swallow a conker it could cause a blockage in the intestine or a choking hazard.

Contact your vet

If you think your dog has eaten conkers, please call your vet for advice. If you think you dog is showing any signs of poisoning - then don't delay. Do NOT try and make the dog sick yourself as this can also be dangerous and have other negative effects. 

Prevent your dog from eating Conkers 

Avoidance is the best way to prevent the toxin impacting on your dogs health. Keep your dog on a lead if Conkers are present on the ground. Training your dog to "leave" or "drop" is a key command you should teach them. If you know your dog is the type to pick things up from the ground - keep them entertained or distracted, for example you could consider taking a ball so they can carry that in there mouth. 


So if you see Conkers on the ground – please don’t encourage a dog to play with them or bite them. Eating one is unlikely to be fatal but may cause illness – so please consult a vet regardless of how many have been digested. Quick treatment is always beneficial to reduce any symptoms and help your dog feel better.