As autumn is now upon us there are lots of leaves and nuts falling from trees. Anyone who is lucky enough to walk their dog past ancient woodland will see acorns on the floor and I often get asked whether these are poisonous to dogs. The reason people ask this is that acorns are known to be poisonous to horses and farm animals – sometimes causing serious kidney damage. The reason acorns are poisonous to these grazing herbivores is that they tend to eat them day after day, this is not a one-off (acute) ingestion issue, but a long-term (chronic) ingestion issue that will lead to kidney failure.

What we see much more in dogs is acute ingestion; dogs are much less likely to get kidney damage but can get stomach upsets with one-off ingestion. Vomiting and diarrhoea can be seen as a result of eating acorns and generally as vets our role in treating these patients is to give supportive medication (such as fluid therapy and anti-sickness medication) to ensure a good recovery. Of course, nuts can also present a blockage issue in some dogs and I have taken a few conkers out of dogs’ intestines over the years.

Autumn does not just bring nuts and berries – it also brings Halloween – please remember to keep dogs and cats away from sweets and chocolate – we all know about chocolate poisoning but do not forget that any sweet or chewing gum with the sweetener “Xylitol” in it can be poisonous to dogs.

If you ever have any pet poisoning queries and want to speak to an expert before contacting your vet you can always phone the Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000.

*Alice Moore is a vet at Castle Veterinary Clinic, Dorchester and Weymouth. Tel 01305 267083