Common dog poisons outside

Spending time outside is good for your dog's health and wellbeing. However, it's essential to be aware of certain plants, flowers and other substances outdoors that can be toxic to your dog. From antifreeze to wild plants, it’s important you’re aware of these potential risks and where you might find them, as well as the steps to take if your dog consumes something poisonous and the key symptoms to watch out for. 

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Which flowers are poisonous to your dog?

You might be surprised how many plants, flowers and weeds can actually be harmful to your dog. Knowing which ones could be a problem, and ensuring your dog doesn't eat or chew them, is really important. Here are the most commonly found toxic flowers you should be aware of:

Remember, even small amounts of these flowers can affect your dog. Contact your vet immediately for advice if your dog consumes, or you suspect they have, any toxic flower. It’s vital to act quickly, as speedy treatment can lead to a much better outcome for your dog.

Are any weeds poisonous to your dog?

Some weeds can be toxic to your dog. If you suspect your dog has eaten a toxic weed or plant, contact your vet for advice immediately. Here are a few examples of poisonous weeds:

Are conkers or acorns poisonous to your dog?

Conkers, also known as horse chestnuts, and acorns, commonly found during autumn, can be toxic to dogs if eaten, they can also pose a choking risk. Although the ground is often littered with acorns and conkers in the autumn, it's important to prevent your dog from eating or chewing on them. If you notice any symptoms or suspect your dog has eaten these, you should contact your vet for advice immediately. 


The seeds of the horse chestnut tree, known as conkers, contain a toxic compound called aesculin. If your dog eats or chews conkers, it can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. In some cases, your dog may also experience drooling, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and restlessness. Severe cases of conker ingestion can cause blockages in the digestive system or even poisoning of the nervous system.


Acorns, the seeds of oak trees, contain tannic acid and other substances that can harm dogs. Eating acorns can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal discomfort. Some dogs may also show signs of lethargy, loss of appetite, and in rare cases, kidney damage. Additionally, acorns can cause blockages in the digestive tract if eaten in large quantities.

Which other substances found outside are harmful to your dog?

While plants, flowers and weeds are more likely to pose a danger in the spring and summer, conkers, acorns, and mushrooms are in abundance in the autumn. Fertiliser and pest and weed killers are used more in the earlier months of the year. In contrast, antifreeze is typically only a threat during the winter months.

How to prevent your dog from being poisoned

You can help to keep your dog safe from poisonous substances by following these simple steps: 

  • Supervision: Always keep a close eye on your dog, especially when they're exploring unfamiliar environments, interacting with other pets or when you're out walking or visiting friends or relatives.
  • Education: Familiarise yourself with the poisonous plants and flowers, and other substances outside of the home in your area that could harm your dog. Make sure other family members are also aware of what poses a risk so they can be vigilant when they’re out and about with your dog. Bear in mind that the presence of these plants and flowers will vary depending on where you live and your local climate, so it's essential to educate yourself about what is growing in your specific area
  • Safety: Use dog-friendly fertilisers and pesticides in your garden and secure anything toxic out of reach of your dog. Keep bins and waste secure and inaccessible to your dog.

Recognising symptoms of poisoning in your dog 

Identifying potential signs of poisoning can save your dog's life. Look out for these symptoms:

  • Gastrointestinal issues: Vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, increased thirst, or loss of appetite
  • Behavioural changes: Restlessness, confusion, lethargy, or depression
  • Physical symptoms: Tremors, seizures, difficulty breathing, panting, increased heart rate, and pale gums

What to do if your dog is poisoned

If you suspect your dog has swallowed something poisonous, take immediate action and follow these steps: 

  1. Stay calm: Remaining calm helps you make good decisions and will keep your dog relaxed too.  
  2. Contact your vet or emergency out-of-hours vet: Don’t hesitate to seek help if you know or suspect that your dog has eaten something poisonous. It’s extremely helpful for the vet if you can provide an idea of what, when, how much of the toxic substance your dog ate, and if you still have the packaging, take that with you too. 
  3. Follow the instructions given by your vet: Your vet will advise whether to treat your dog at home or bring them to the clinic. Treatment for poisoning usually involves your vet giving your dog an 'emetic' to make them sick, followed by activated charcoal to absorb any remaining toxins. You should never try and make your dog vomit yourself, as this can cause more harm if not done correctly. In severe cases, your dog may spend the night at the vet on a drip to flush their system of any remaining toxins.

If you’re a guide dog owner and have a non-urgent query please contact our Guide Line, and we will be happy to help with any queries or concerns. If your guide dog has ingested something poisonous, always contact your vet immediately for emergency help and then let us know via Guide Line or the out of hours number on 0345 143 021.