Dangers of Conkers to Your Dog

Dangers of Conkers to Your Dog

This is a quick post to point out the danger of conkers to your dog. These are the fruit of the horse chestnut tree and are often confused with chestnuts which are similar, but completely edible.

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What are Conkers?

Conkers are the fruit of the horse chestnut tree. They are hard brown nuts which come from green casings which split when the nut ripens. Conkers are a common sight in the UK countryside and are usually found on the ground at this time of year. It is important to know the danger of conkers to your dog and the difference between horse chestnuts and chestnuts (which are edible)

Why are they dangerous for dogs?

Conkers contain toxic compounds including sterols, alcohols, and alkaloids which can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms.  A  poison called aesculin is found in all parts of the horse chestnut tree. They can also cause blockages in the intestines or a choking hazard.

If your dog develops sickness, diarrhea, excessive drinking, stomach cramps or suddenly refusing to eat within six hours of being in contact with conkers, it is worth mentioning to your vet.

The good news is that they taste unpleasant so your dog shouldn’t eat enough to cause life-threatening symptoms. However, just one or two conkers can bring on nasty stomach symptoms.


Don’t encourage your dogs to fetch conkers, it may seem like harmless fun, but a ball is much safer.

Be careful with puppies, they are inquisitive and tend to try to eat or chew everything.

Edible Chestnuts

chestnuts roasting

These are chestnuts which are edible and often seen in Christmas advertisements being toasted over an open fire. These brown nuts are encased in husks which are needle sharp to touch. (The horse chestnut has a much smoother casing) Chestnuts come from the family of trees which includes Oak and Beech. It is fine for dogs to eat small quantities of edible chestnuts.


Loads of wildlife feast on acorns in Autumn but again these contain toxins which could be dangerous to domestic animals. However, the tannin in acorns gives them a really unpleasant bitter taste so it is unlikely that enough would be consumed to cause any major side effects.


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