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The dangers of the autumn garden

Autumn is a great time to be out and about, especially for a dog. There are endless piles of crisp, dry leaves to run through, hundreds of squirrels to chase around and there’s still some gentle warmth left in the sun. But are there hidden dangers lurking in common garden flora?

Dogs are natural scavengers so it’s to be expected that they’ll occasionally consume something that causes them a bit of a stomach upset. As pet owners, it’s our responsibility to make sure that the amount of potentially toxic substances consumed by our dogs is kept to a minimum. There are some very obvious hazards, like poisonous mushrooms and chemical spills, that you should steer your dog away from, but what about the more common items?

The Blue Cross for Pets has compiled a list of the most common garden plants and flowers that could make your cat or dog unwell. With regards to acorns, although these are seen as a vital food source for some wild animals, like squirrels, they do contain tannins, which can be toxic to other animals. The effect of acorns on dogs is relatively unknown as dogs are unlikely to eat them in large quantities due to their bitter taste. Even so, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry and to discourage your dog from eating acorns.

Another abundant autumn garden that is potentially toxic to dogs is the chestnut. By this, we mean the horse chestnut, which is a different variety to the sweet, edible chestnut that many people enjoy roasting over open fires during winter. The Michigan State University has a great page for describing the differences between the two types to help you easily identify them. Horse chestnuts contain toxic compounds that are not safe for your dog to ingest in large quantities. They can cause an upset stomach as well as dizziness, headaches and even convulsions.

If you think your dog has eaten a conker or consumed a large quantity of acorns or any other plant that may be toxic to them, you should contact your vet immediately.