CONKERS can be highly poisonous to dogs if chewed an eaten, warns pet charity.

As the season changed to autumn, the Blue Cross are warning pet owners of the dangers of conkers.

Although cases are rare, Blue Cross, who have a rehoming centre in West End, Southampton, has treated dogs who have fallen very ill after eating conkers.

In one recent case, children had been innocently throwing conkers for a dog to catch, unaware of the dangers.

Conkers can cause two problems in dogs with the first being that the large nuts could cause a blockage in your pet’s stomach.

Secondly, they contain a chemical called aesculin – found in all parts of the horse chestnut tree, including the leaves – which is toxic to dogs.

Although fatalities in cases where dogs have consumed conkers are thankfully rare it is still very serious.

Dogs who have eaten or swallowed conkers, allowing the toxins to enter their body, can be very sick.

They can vomit, collapse, have diarrhoea, get very restless with the discomfort and pain, become severely dehydrated and go into toxic shock. It has also been reported that dogs can experience respiratory paralysis and can die.

Signs of illness usually arise after a couple of days but dogs can show signs of being poisoned within one to six hours of consuming the conkers.

Although dogs love to forage when out exploring, the Blue Cross are advising that owners do keep a watchful eye on them when they are around conkers.

They added that you should not encourage them to catch or play with them and if they show signs of becoming unwell after you have been out and about then contact your vet as soon as possible.

Always take a suitable dog toy out with you to distract them if they are interested in playing a game.

If you think your pet has eaten a conker, please see a vet immediately as treatment is needed.