A leading canine first-aid expert has called for dog owners to be conker aware after treating pets who have ingested the surprisingly poisonous item.
Many people like to collect conkers, especially children, and conkers are said to deter spiders if placed in the corner of a room. But conkers, which fall from horse-chestnut trees, contain a toxin which, if eaten by a dog, can cause them to vomit, have diarrhoea or even collapse.
Qualified veterinary nurse Rachel Bean, who wrote the iPET Network’s qualification in Canine First Aid, said, “Conkers seem to be a celebrated part of autumn starting, but every year my practice sees pets who have ingested conkers, and devastated owners who simply didn’t realise that aesculin, which is found in the tree fruit, is toxic to dogs.
“If you suspect that a dog you are caring for may have eaten something poisonous, contact your vet straight away, as they could die.
“Vomiting is the most common effect after ingestion of conkers. Other potential signs include abdominal discomfort, diarrhoea, lethargy. Again, gastrointestinal obstruction is a potential risk.
“It is important to be aware on your walks out of the house too, as they can present like a ball to playful pups, which can lead to them chewing and ingesting them.
“People also think that conkers deter spiders, so place them at ground level in their homes, and they then run the risk of becoming a risky plaything for your pet.
“The safest thing to do is to keep conkers out of your house entirely, and always make sure to keep your dog on a lead when walking near shedding horse-chestnut trees.”
Rachel travels around the UK, giving canine first-aid demonstrations, and is an ambassador for the national Safe Pets and People campaign, which is calling for mandatory first aid qualifications for all pet professionals.
She added, “Everyone wants the best for their pets, and many people simply don’t know what hazards are truly out there. Hopefully this year the dangers of conkers to dogs will be as widely known as chocolate is at Christmas and Easter.”
To find out more about Rachel Bean, go to www.rachelbean.co.uk