Sunflower seeds are one of the better human foods you can occasionally feed your dog. Rich in healthy fats and protein, these tasty snacks are also a good source of nutrition. But is it safe to give them to a dog?
Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds?
The kernels of unsalted sunflower seeds can be fed to dogs in moderation. Sunflower seeds’ outer shells can cause a blockage in a dog’s throat or intestines if not removed, so it’s important to do so before feeding them to your pet.
It has been found that excessive consumption of sunflower seeds, especially by smaller dogs, can cause pancreatitis. Sunflower seeds can cause diarrhea and vomiting in dogs if they eat too many at once.
It is best to feed your dog unsalted seeds because too much salt can increase his or her cholesterol levels and risk of heart disease and cause sodium toxicosis, excessive urination, and extreme thirst.
Are Sunflower Seeds Good for Dogs?
Sunflower seeds are healthy for dogs, but only if they are given to them in their natural, raw or toasted (unsalted) state. Research into the benefits of fatty acids for dogs has shown that including them in the dog’s diet can help maintain healthy skin and a glossy coat.
In just a quarter cup, you’ll get 163 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 14 grams of fat, and 5.5 grams of protein from sunflower seeds that have been shelled.
Vitamin E, an anti-oxidant, is found in sunflower seeds. It’s essential for immune function and helps form cell membranes. A single ounce of seeds provides a dog with all the nutrition it needs for an entire day.
The seeds contain a wealth of nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamins B1, B6, B3, selenium, copper, and manganese.
The health benefits of this tasty snack are, of course, in addition to the nutrients that should already be present in your dog’s regular food.
Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a nutritious addition to your dog’s diet because they contain fiber, protein, and healthy fatty acids. Vitamins B1, B6, B3, and E, as well as minerals like manganese, folate, selenium, magnesium, and phosphorus, are abundant in the seeds.
These can promote healthy skin and a shiny coat for your dog. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in sunflower seeds, has been shown to stimulate brain activity and improve mental health.
What are the Risks of Feeding My Dog Sunflower Seeds?
Avoid giving anything other than plain sunflower seeds to your dog. Muscle tremors, weakness, and gastroenteritis are just some of the side effects of salt toxicosis, which can be caused by the salt in packaged seeds.
The most crucial thing is to keep your dog away from sunflower seed shells. Hard as a rock, these husks defy digestion and must be discarded. Obstruction or blockage can be caused by shells becoming lodged in the digestive tract.
There is a possibility that your dog will experience abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Be sure to only give your puppy seeds that have been removed from their shells, as the shells present a serious choking hazard.
What’s good for dogs in small doses can be harmful in larger ones, and the same holds true for fatty acids and fat content. Overconsumption of sunflower seeds has been linked to irritated bowel syndrome.
Sunflower seeds are high in fat, so they shouldn’t be given to dogs with pancreatitis or other pets with sensitive stomachs. This is because they can cause vomiting, lethargy, decreased appetite, and other gastrointestinal distress.
Sunflower seeds are generally a safe and healthy treat for your dog. You can feel good about giving them a small amount of this nutrient-rich, nutty-tasting snack as long as you stick to natural, unsalted seeds in their shells.
How to Feed Sunflower Seeds to Your Dog
While dog food should still be the primary source of nutrition for pets, sunflower seeds do have some positive health effects that make them a suitable treat. If you want to treat your dog with some tasty sunflower seeds, here’s how:
1.Do not buy salted seeds. Feeding your dog a small amount of unsalted sunflower seeds is fine. Do not give your dog salted sunflower seeds because they contain too much salt, which is bad for your dog’s health.
2.Avoid adding any sort of seasoning. Toxic for dogs are onion, honey mustard, and other artificial flavors that can also cause stomach upset. Always choose unsalted seeds. (The same holds true for pumpkin seeds, which are rich in calcium if given to your dog raw and unsalted.)
3.Take the shells off the sunflower seeds. Dogs should only be given sunflower kernels as treats. The tough hulls of the seeds can cause choking if swallowed.
4.Give it very little to eat. Limit the amount of sunflower seeds you feed your dog to no more than a dozen, and dole them out slowly over the course of a few minutes so he can enjoy them slowly rather than gulping them down.
5.Keep an eye out for any adverse responses. Small amounts of plain sunflower seeds should be safe for your dog, but you should still keep an eye on his or her behavior and poop after giving it to him for the first time.
What Should I Look Out for When Feeding My Dog Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are generally safe for dogs to eat, but there are a few things to keep an eye out for.
Always Peel the Seeds First
Sunflower seeds can be a healthy treat for dogs, but they should be peeled before giving them to Fido. In spite of the fact that their tough exteriors aren’t toxic in and of themselves, there are still a few ways in which they can be harmful to your dog.
The sunflower seed shell is not intended for human or animal consumption, and even birds prefer to remove it before eating the seed.
The tough exterior is due in large part to the presence of cellulose, an insoluble fiber that is not digested.
If your dog (or you) eats the seed whole, it will exit the body in the same condition in which it entered.
This may not seem like a big deal now, but it can cause serious digestive problems later on. Too many shells in your dog’s diet can cause gastrointestinal distress in the form of either diarrhea or constipation.
Unshelled sunflower seeds can cause a complete obstruction (blockage) of the stomach or intestinal tract if ingested by a dog, especially a toy breed or other small dog. This situation is urgent and may require immediate surgery.
In severe cases, diarrhea can cause dehydration and even death. Diarrhea that persists for more than two days or is accompanied by vomiting should be checked out by your vet in case it develops into pancreatitis.
The hard shells of sunflower seeds can be dangerous to your dog’s teeth and pose a choking hazard to canines of all sizes. Unshelled seeds can easily become a choking hazard.
Moderation is Essential for This Salty Snack
Although these tiny seeds have many health benefits, they also contain high levels of sodium that should be avoided.
Delicious as they are, sunflower seeds are a human snack. That means they are created with the typical consumer in mind, and who doesn’t have a penchant for salty snacks?
Salt is bad for humans, but it is even worse for our dogs.
Like in humans, canine overconsumption of salt results in physiological effects such as dehydration and hypertension.
Your dog may experience some acute health problems if it gets ahold of a bag of salted sunflower seeds and devours them all in one sitting, even though these problems are typically the result of overeating over a longer period of time.
In addition to the other health problems it causes, high blood pressure in dogs is especially dangerous because it often goes undetected.
Even though we share a special bond with our dogs, we can’t know their thoughts and feelings because of this. In particular, high blood pressure shows few external signs until it has reached a potentially fatal level.
Save The Trail Mix for Yourself
Finally, keep in mind that sunflower seeds often appear in a trail mix. Though many of the ingredients in trail mix are beneficial to human health, they should be avoided at all costs around dogs due to the potential toxicity of certain types of nuts and seeds.
For example, raisins and dark chocolate are two of the more common trail mix ingredients that vets recommend avoiding. Your dog’s health is in grave danger from both of these.
Theobromine is abundant in dark chocolate. The chemical is present in all chocolate, but it is most concentrated in dark chocolate (and baker’s chocolate).
Theobromine has similar effects to caffeine, and giving your dog too much of it can cause the same symptoms you’d notice from drinking too much coffee: rapid heart rate, tremors (in the muscles), restlessness, and urination. If your dog consumes too much of this chemical, he or she could die.
The same can be said for raisins. We now have a better idea of how much dark chocolate a dog can eat without any ill effects.
However, scientists in the field of veterinary medicine have yet to pinpoint the exact component of raisins (and grapes) that is poisonous.
One grape has been linked to acute kidney damage and failure in some dogs. Your dog should stay far away from them.
How Else Can I Keep My Dog Healthy?
There are many other ways to show our dogs how much we care besides giving them treats. Maintaining your dog’s health and fitness may not yield instant gratification, but it will increase the number of years you have with your pet.
Certain dog breeds (including Dachshunds, Labradors, and Golden Retrievers) are more predisposed to being overweight than others.
The good news is that it won’t take too much extra effort to help counteract that excess weight gain and keep your dog slim and trim.
You’ve taken the first step in the right direction by researching the topic of whether or not sunflower seeds are safe for your dog.
The food you give your dog should provide the majority of the calories they need each day. This means that you should consider your dog’s age, size, current weight, and general health when deciding on a diet for him or her. Consult your veterinarian for advice if you need it.
Use your imagination with the remaining 10% of calories! Half the battle is won when you know which foods are healthy and which ones aren’t to use as treats.
To avoid raising your dog’s cholesterol levels, choose protein-rich treats that he can digest easily, such as peanut butter or eggs.
Finally, physical activity. When it comes to physical activity, some people are more enthusiastic than others. Canines, thankfully, do not share these worries. It’s not hard to get a dog going; most of them are overjoyed to see their leash for the first time.
Unfortunately, a large part of the problem lies with us as their owners; we may become less inclined to take our furry friends on walks when our schedules get busy, when we become lazy, or when the weather changes.
Do something different with your dog’s exercise routine. Walking or jogging with your dog has numerous health benefits for both of you, and your dog can serve as a source of motivation to ensure that you stick to your exercise routine. Exercising can help alleviate stress and depression as well!
If so, how about sunflower seeds? Giving your dog a seed or two occasionally is perfectly acceptable, and may even contribute to a balanced diet.
However, you should only give them sunflower seeds that have not been shelled and that do not contain any additional seasonings or ingredients (such as trail mix).
Keep in mind that even the healthiest treat shouldn’t account for more than 10 percent of their daily calorie intake. Join us at Finn to learn more about what is (and isn’t) appropriate for your dog’s diet.