Updated on December 17, 2022

Horse Chestnuts, or conkers, are the tree’s spherical, dark brown nut. The conkers inside this spiky green shell fall to the ground in the fall and crack open upon impact.

If your kids are picking up horse chestnuts for a game of conkers, make sure they know not to consume them because of their hazardous properties. Is it known if or not dogs are also poisoned by these seeds.


Conkers are toxic if chewed or ingested by dogs. Horse chestnut leaves, like the rest of the plant, are very toxic.

It has been discovered that aesculin, a poisonous substance found in horse chestnut trees and conkers, can have adverse effects on humans and many other species, including dogs. The best your vet can do to assist your dog recover from aesculin poisoning is to provide supportive care by reducing the severity of its symptoms.

Toxic to the nervous system, aesculin is known as a neurotoxic. Additionally, aesculin can be hemolytic, meaning it can cause red blood cell rupture if consumed in big enough quantities. Both are life-threatening and will severely impair your dog without prompt veterinarian care.

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Horse chestnuts are designed to taste unpleasant, so it’s hardly often that a dog eats too many of them. But it won’t always prevent a dog from eating the conkers, and even a small amount can cause significant disease.

Ingesting conkers can be dangerous for your dog because not only are the nuts and the prickly shell poisonous, but they can also cause damage and blockages in your dog’s digestive tract. They are also a major choking hazard.

Dogs should be taken to the vet immediately if there is any suspicion that they have ingested horse chestnut tree parts, including conkers.


Horse In the UK, you’ll find plenty of chestnut trees growing in green spaces and forests. Throughout the summer, the nuts ripen, and by fall, they have fallen to the ground. Conkers normally begin to fall around September, but in years with very long, warm summers, they may begin to fall as early as August.

The appearance of the first ripe conker on the ground is being recorded as a climate change indicator because of its significance in nature’s cycle. This is because longer, sunnier summers result in bumper crops of enormous conkers, which then drop out of the trees well ahead of schedule, whereas shorter, wetter summers produce fewer, smaller fruits.


To the untrained eye, a conker might pass for a roasted chestnut. Horse chestnuts, on the other hand, are larger, rounder, and darker brown in colour. The green covering of a horse chestnut is thicker and shorter than that of other trees, and the spikes are further apart. A sweet chestnut’s shell has tiny, thin spikes, and the nut inside is often small and concave on one side. The sweet chestnut is oblong at the top and tapers to a point at the bottom.

Will a dog become sick if it eats conkers?

Canines, can conkers be toxic?
However, sweet chestnuts are safe for both people and dogs to eat, unlike conkers. However, horse chestnuts are poisonous thus it’s crucial to be able to tell them apart.


Toxic conker nut ingestion can cause a variety of signs in your dog.

Discomfort and pain in the stomach
Poisonous shock
Constant spasms and twitching of the muscles
Drooling too much
Subtle Alterations in Respiration (Such as difficulty breathing.)
In less severe cases, your dog may just be antsy and have some stomach issues. Stress on the digestive system from eating conkers can lead to gastroenteritis and its associated nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. These signs and symptoms are more commonly related to an upset stomach than poisoning.

Dogs rarely become seriously poisoned from eating conkers, and even then, it takes a lot of conkers for that to happen. There is a risk that your dog will enter a state of toxic shock, characterised by lethargy and difficulty moving. Rigidity and spasms may occur in the dog’s muscles, and a high temperature will be present. Within just a few hours of eating the conkers, the victim will go into toxic shock. In extremely unusual circumstances, a dog may suffer respiratory paralysis and ultimately die.

Within a few hours of eating a conker, your dog may start showing indications of disease whether they ate one or several. But it usually takes a few days for a dog to develop any signs. This means that your dog may become ill as soon as 1 to 6 hours or as late as 2 days after consuming a conker.


Be on the lookout for any symptoms of disease in your dog if it has recently consumed conkers, and get in touch with your vet immediately if you see anything out of the ordinary. Take note of how many you think your dog has eaten if you’ve caught him or her munching on them, and take that info to the vet. Make sure to include a rough estimate of how many conkers your dog has eaten and when it did so.

Poisoning can occur after eating only a few horse chestnuts, although the exact amount needed to kill a dog might vary widely depending on its size. Smaller dogs, such terriers, require less aesculin to become poisoned than larger dogs, like Rottweilers. No matter how many conkers your dog may have eaten, you should still take him to the vet.

Keep a close eye on your dog, noting any unusual behaviour or symptoms, and get in touch with the vest as soon as possible so they can evaluate your dog’s condition and provide a course of treatment.


Since veterinary care for a sick dog is only supportive, aesculin poisoning is fatal. The goal of treatment is to alleviate the patient’s suffering as they recover from the effects of the poisoning.

If your dog has been poisoned by eating conkers, they will need to be rehydrated with an intravenous drip to replace the fluids they’ve lost through vomiting and diarrhoea.

The veterinarian will need to make sure your dog’s system is completely clear of any remnants of the conker. Because of the potential for this to cause obstructions in the digestive or intestinal systems, taking this measure is necessary to prevent future poisoning as well as to avoid such complications. Your vet may prescribe a drug to make your dog vomit as a means to this end. It is possible to induce vomiting in your dog at home if it has just eaten a tiny amount and has not yet thrown up.

Some dogs may need gastric lavage or surgery to remove any residual conkers if they have consumed a large number of conkers or if some of the nuts have become trapped. The dog must be sedated before a sterile tube can be introduced into the stomach to perform gastric lavage. The dog’s stomach is inundated with water and the excess is evacuated through a tube.

You may need to take your dog to the vet to have surgery performed to remove any remaining conkers if you are unable to do so using the methods outlined above.

Medications to alleviate pain, calm the dog’s stomach, and stop the vomiting will be administered to your pet. Once you bring your dog back home, make sure they have plenty of time to rest and access to clean water to drink. Similar to the treatment of many stomach-related disorders, your vet may recommend that your dog fast for a brief amount of time until their gut has calmed, and then feed them tiny, highly digestible meals of high-quality nourishment to help repair and preserve their gut.


If the conker is eliminated from your dog’s system quickly after poisoning, your dog may show improvement in their acute gastrointestinal symptoms within a day.

If your dog has been treated for conker poisoning quickly, even in severe cases, they should be back to normal within a few days.

To be sure, conker poisoning is extremely uncommon but can be lethal on occasion.


When it comes to the health problems your dog may encounter over the course of their life, prevention is almost always preferable than treatment.

You should take your dog for walks in locations far from horse chestnut trees, where there is less chance of finding any conkers on the ground, if you are worried that he or she might try to eat them. The best approach to keep your dog from straying off to forage is to keep him or her on a leash at all times. Keep a close eye on your dog at all times when you take him for a stroll so he doesn’t eat something he shouldn’t, such a rock or a conker, or even the decomposing remains of another dog.

Give the “leave” or “drop” command immediately if your dog picks up anything they shouldn’t. If they insist on keeping whatever they’ve grabbed, you’ll have to take it away from their mouth by force.

Consider muzzle training your dog if he or she has a habit of trying to consume garbage when on walks. Dogs can still bark and breathe normally while wearing a muzzle, but they won’t be able to get into anything they shouldn’t.



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