PETS & VETS: What to do if your dog eats acorns, conkers or mushrooms while out on a walk

With Katie Love from St Vincents

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acorns
Picture: klimkin from Pixabay

Over the last few weeks we have had many enquiries about whether it is safe for dogs to eat conkers and acorns so we thought we would have a look at these potential autumnal hazards. 

Many owners do not realise that acorns and conkers can make their pets very poorly.  Acorns and conkers can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy.

Signs are usually seen between one and six hours after ingestion, although signs may be delayed for a few days. Complete obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract is also a risk which can be life-threatening. 

A more unusual side effect is a rash or swelling around either the eyes or lips. Around a quarter of dogs will continue to be well if they eat acorns and with conkers and a third will not have any signs at all. It is very rare to see severe cases of poisoning.  

We would advise speaking to your vet if you do suspect poisoning. 

Unfortunately, there is no known antidote.

If the acorns and conkers have been eaten within 2 hours before arrival at the vets, we can induce vomiting to ensure they are not digested. Depending on the severity of the other signs, we may need to prescribe medicines to manage a poorly tummy and if the pet is severely dehydrated we would admit them for intravenous fluid therapy. 

In the case of a suspected obstruction, we would make a diagnosis by either xray or ultrasound and then remove surgically. 

It is therefore worth keeping a careful watch on your dogs out on walks if they like to play with conkers. Please never play catch or fetch with conkers or acorns.  

Please also be cautious if you see any mushrooms and toadstools.  Many species are edible whilst other types are extremely dangerous.  Signs can vary significantly from a tummy upset to hallucinations, neurological signs, liver and kidney failure. 

The types of mushroom eaten will also determine the onset of clinical signs. Some species can cause signs within 10 minutes, whereas others can cause signs days later. 

It is therefore important to call us as soon as you can if you think your dog has eaten a mushroom, preferably within two hours. In this instance, we may be able to make them vomit any nasty toxins. 

If possible always bring the specimen and take note of where it was growing to help us identify the species, the severity of the toxin and what treatment is required.  

As always if you are ever worried your dog has eaten something nasty and need some advice please feel free to give us a call.  

StVincents

Katie Love is a veterinary surgeon at St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, an independent practice offering personal care for all your pets. Katie has a keen interest in feline medicine and can be contacted at the surgery if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

To find out more visit www.stvincentsvets.co.uk or call the practice on 0118 979 3200 to arrange a visit and meet the team.

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