Are Sunflower Seeds Bad for Dogs? The TRUTH (Pros and Cons)

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Sunflower seeds are some of the most popular snacks on earth; they are delicious, crunchy, and nutty. Plus, they’re highly nutritious, as they contain omega 3 fatty acid, vitamins, minerals, and fibers.

Yet, are you wondering “are sunflower seeds bad for dogs?” The truth is, they have many benefits for your dog’s skin and coat, cardiovascular health, digestive system, blood pressure levels, and clerestory levels.

That being said, they aren’t without risks. If you’re interested in finding out more about what sunflowers can do to your dog, keep on reading.

What Seeds Are Toxic to Dogs?

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds

While there are seeds that you can feed your dog, others can be absolutely harmful to your canine friend.

The most famous example is the cyanide in apple seeds, peach pits, plum pits, and cherry pits. Cyanide poisoning is a common fear among dog owners because if a dog chews a cyanide-containing pit, it can die within minutes.

In addition, while avocados are a healthy trend for humans, they’re a big no-no to your dog. Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin, which exists in the seeds, leaves, skin, bark, and fruit. So, basically, the whole plant can cause problems, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and myocardial damage. Large amounts of this natural ingredient make avocados toxic for dogs and many other animals.

Plus, avocado’s calories and high-fat content can cause health issues in dogs, such as weight gain and pancreatitis. So, make sure to keep them out of your dog’s diet.

On the other hand, many nuts are also not recommended for dogs. Macadamia nuts, in particular, are known to be toxic to dogs. They cause tremors, hyperthermia, muscle stiffness, and increased heart rate.

Do Sunflower Seeds Have Side Effects?

Close up of nose of cute welsh corgi dog

While sunflower seeds are abundant in nutrients, they tend to cause side effects if a dog eats too much of them. If you don’t give your dog sunflower seeds in moderation or the right way, they can experience the reactions below.

Diarrhea

First of all, sunflower seeds aren’t the most easily digestible foods for dogs. Yes, dogs can eat sunflower seeds, but too much can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, and intestinal distress.

The recommended amount of sunflowers seeds that your dog can eat differs among dog breeds and other factors, such as health history, size, and age. You should ask your vet for any specific questions.

However, Animalso recommends no more than 10 to 20 seeds for a small dog and 20 to 40 seeds for a large dog per week.

Constipation

Sunflower seed shells are too fibrous for even humans to digest safely. So, imagine what they could do to your little dog! They may get abdominal pain, fecal impaction, liquid stool leakage, and constipation.

So, always make sure to never give your dog shelled sunflower seeds because not even you can digest that shell.

Weight Gain

Sunflower seeds, like many other seeds and nuts, have high-fat content/saturated fat, which leads to consuming many calories very quickly, both to humans and dogs. So, while these seeds are high in nutrients, they can lead to weight gain.

In addition, if dogs eat sunflower seeds with harmful additives or artificial flavors, they may experience health issues, such as diarrhea and intestinal distress. So, make sure to only give your dog unflavored sunflower seeds or a chia seeds in moderate quantities.

Sodium Toxicosis

A raw sunflower seed or a sunflower oil in itself doesn’t have a high salt content. That being said, most salted sunflower seeds on the market are salted. Their high salt content is problematic to humans but potentially dangerous to dogs.

Eating too many salted seeds leads to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, dehydration, and, last but not least, sodium toxicosis or salt poisoning.

Tooth and Gum Damage

Whenever humans eat shelled sunflower seeds, they use their teeth to crack them open. However, too much of that chewing, cracking, and spitting can do some damage to our teeth, and it’s the same for your dog.

If your dog chews the shells, which are very sharp in nature, it may damage its teeth. Also, the sharp edges of the shelled seeds can scrape its throat, esophagus, or digestive tract. So, here’s another reason to never let your dog even encounter flax seed shells.

Allergies

Allergies can be individual, meaning that not every dog is allergic to sunflowers. However, some are, and that’s why you should experiment with no more than 5 seeds the first time to check. Symptoms of allergy in dogs include vomiting, lethargy, and gastrointestinal problems.

Wait and observe your dog. If there are no signs of allergies or sensitivity to these seeds, you can introduce them in moderate amounts to your dog’s diet.

Why Are Seeds Bad for Dogs?

Dogue de Bordeaux puppy

We wouldn’t say that seeds as a whole are bad for dogs. In fact, many seeds, such as chia, sunflower, and flax seeds are beneficial for dogs, and you can definitely give them these seeds as a snack. That being said, there are some concerns and downsides to eating too many seeds.

Choking Hazards

Some seeds and nuts, such as apricot pits and peanut butter/nut butter, are large enough that they can pose a choking hazard. So, it’s best to keep anything that can cause such a danger to your dog out of their reach.

Pancreatitis

Since we’ve established that seeds tend to have a lot of fats and calories, it comes as no surprise that they can cause pancreatitis or inflammation of the pancreas in dogs. You can avoid this by only feeding your dog raw seeds and monitoring how many you feed them per week.

Toxicity

Another popular concern among pet owners is what seeds or nuts are toxic to their dogs. Spoiler alert: they’re fewer than you think.

Apple seeds and pits of apricots, plums, peaches, and cherries are poisonous. Also, any part of an avocado that contains persin is a no-no. Finally, macadamia nuts aren’t meant to be dog food and can definitely poison them.

What Benefits Do Sunflower Seeds Have?

Purebred dog running towards camera

You may wonder why someone would feed their dog sunflower seeds if there’s so much debate around them. Well, sunflower seeds have many health benefits, thanks to their abundance of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that make pet owners want to eat them and give them to their canine friend.

B Complex Vitamins

For starters, they’re abundant in B complex vitamins, which are eight different vitamins with many benefits. For example, vitamin B-1 aids metabolism and converting food into energy, which helps your dog become active and healthy. Meanwhile, vitamin B-3 helps improve cholesterol levels.

In addition, vitamin B-7 nourishes the skin and coat of your dog, which is what people take for their skin and hair, as well. Plus, vitamin B-6 strengthens the immune system.

Vitamin E

Besides B complex vitamins, sunflower seeds contain vitamin E, known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It also keeps heart disease at bay; thus, it helps your dog lead a long and healthy life.

In addition, vitamin E is also good for eye health, and everyone knows how common eye problems are in dogs.

Vitamin E, as an antioxidant, protects the body from cellular damage that free radicals cause. Plus, it protects and strengthens the immune system.

Magnesium

The magnesium in Sunflower seeds is one of the best minerals to fight anxiety and depression. Usually, magnesium deficiency leads to tension, depression, weakness, and fatigue. So, if your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, they may need some sunflower seeds in their lives.

Magnesium also lowers the risk of high blood pressure and reduces the risk of diabetes in dogs. Moreover, magnesium is vital for calcium absorption, which ensures the health of your dog’s bones. Furthermore, magnesium is essential in regulating nerve and muscle function and contraction.

Fatty Acids/Fatty Acid

Add sunflower seeds to your dog’s diet because they contain monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fatty acids/unsaturated fats, which are healthy fats that play an important role in protecting the arteries, like reducing the risk of heart disease and improving blood cholesterol levels.

Your dog can benefit from the omega-6 fats in sunflower seeds, which also help the body and heart by maintaining healthy cells and preventing blood clots.

Fiber

Like humans, dogs need fiber in their diet, and that’s exactly what a healthy dose of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds provides. Fiber maintains the digestive system, regulates bowels, and improves metabolism.

Moreover, it reduces constipation, which can come in handy if your dog ate something questionable. Finally, fiber helps reduce the risk of many cancers, in particular, colon cancer.

Iron

One of the most important minerals in sunflower seeds is iron. Mineral iron tasty treat anemia in dogs. More importantly, it creates hemoglobin, the protein inside red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.


Final Thoughts

We hope that our article was informative. I wrote the article because questions about whether sunflower seeds are harmful to dogs or not are some of the most common questions in the dog owner community.

In brief, sunflower seeds have a variety of health benefits, thanks to containing essential fatty acid, minerals, vitamins, and more. However, they’re not a daily snack, and you should monitor how many you give your dog. Also, they must be unshelled and unsalted.

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Hi, everyone! My name is Mathew Barham and I’m the editor in charge here at M-Dog. I’m currently based in Northampton, Pennsylvania, where I live with my beautiful wife, two amazing kids, and four rowdy rescue dogs. Growing up, my parents had a huge backyard and lots of animals. So my entire life, I was surrounded by pets that I cared for deeply. When my wife and I moved into a bigger place, I knew that I wanted to do the same for my family. That’s when we went to an animal shelter and fell in love with the most adorable little rescue pup. Since then, our family just kept growing, and we couldn’t be happier about it.