Sunflower seeds come with various health benefits. They are immensely loaded with vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and E. The seeds have minerals like magnesium, potassium, manganese, zinc, phosphorous, and sodium.
No matter how you consume them, raw or roasted, these seeds will benefit you in several ways.
Now comes the main question: can you give your dog sunflower seeds? Will it benefit your dog in the same way it helps you? Not all human foods are deemed helpful for your four-legged friends.
So, let us check if you can give your dog sunflower seeds. We will also look at the benefits and risks of sunflower seeds for your dog.
Can Your Dog Have Seeds of Sunflower?
Yes, your dog can eat sunflower seeds in moderation as an occasional snack. However, an increased consumption of sunflower seeds could trigger gastrointestinal disorders and other complications in the long run.
When given to dogs in measured amounts, sunflower seeds will help reap valuable benefits. So, let us look at how you could provide sunflower seeds to your dog for a better effect.
How to Feed Your Dog Sunflower Seeds?
When feeding your dog sunflower seeds, the first criterion to remember is to take extra care of the amount. When that is done, there isn’t much risk.
- Give a small breed like a Yorkshire Terrier, Chihuahua, or Maltese 10-20 seeds each week. The measurement should be around 20-40 seeds weekly for more giant breeds.
- When feeding sunflower seeds to your dog, always choose the plain, unsalted ones. Giving your dog salted seeds isn’t a safe and healthy option for them and could even lead to salt toxicity in extreme cases.
- Also, when giving sunflower seeds to your dog, ensure it is devoid of seasonings like garlic, honey mustard, and onion.
- Avoid giving your dog the shells of the sunflower seeds as it is difficult to digest and could block your dog’s intestinal tract. Moreover, the seeds may even result in a choking hazard.
Whenever you add new food to your dog’s diet, seeking a vet’s consultation is always a mandate. So, while adding sunflower seeds to your dog’s food, do not miss out on contacting the vet.
Benefits of Sunflower Seeds for Dogs
Sunflower seeds come with many benefits, and when you give them to your dog in moderation, they will help in several ways.
A quarter cup of the shelled seeds has:
- 5.5 g of protein
- 3 g of fiber
- 14 g of fat
- 163 calories
The seeds also contain Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, Vitamin E, and minerals like copper, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
These minerals and vitamins will help your dog in different ways.
- Vitamin B1 is pivotal in enhancing motor and cognitive functions. It also works towards maintaining sound brain health.
- Vitamin B2 is significant in promoting proper digestion. It also helps break down the fat, carbohydrates, and protein in the dog’s body, converting them to energy.
- Vitamin B3 helps in metabolism and the overall functioning of the dog’s body. It is even helpful to treat inflammatory conditions of the skin.
- Vitamin B6 serves several purposes. It helps in generating glucose. The vitamin also helps function the nervous system, red blood cells, and hormones.
- Vitamin E comes with many functions. It helps build the cell membranes and contributes towards healthy skin and eyes. It even functions towards metabolizing fat and assisting the body in synthesizing other nutrients. It even serves as an effective antioxidant, preventing the cells in the dog’s body from free radical damage.
- Regarding minerals, manganese and magnesium helps in the growth of cartilage and healthy bones. Zinc is instrumental in the functioning of the thyroid and immune system. In contrast, sodium helps in the functioning of the nerves and muscles.
Sunflower seeds contain all of the vitamins and essential minerals mentioned above. So, when you give the seeds to your dog in moderation in the proper way, they will be beneficial for your pet.
However, you are mistaken if you think you will make up for the vitamins and essential nutrients with sunflower seeds. This healthy snack will be a bonus when given as a treat but cannot be included as a wholesome meal.
Side Effects of Sunflower Seeds for Dogs
When you do not follow the recommended amount and give excess sunflower seeds to your dog, it could result in side effects.
- Giving your dog salted sunflower seeds could prove harmful to him. It may even result in salt toxicosis in severe cases, producing severe effects like depression, muscle tremors, gastroenteritis, ataxia, and weakness.
- As mentioned, the shells or husks of the sunflower seeds could cause choking hazards and even lead to gastrointestinal blockage, causing vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other signs of discomfort in dogs.
- Sunflower seed is high in fatty acids and fat; when your dog has too much of it, he may suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. If your dog’s stomach is on the sensitive side or is susceptible to pancreatitis, it is advisable to refrain from giving him sunflower seeds. Ingestion of these seeds could aggravate your dog’s condition, resulting in digestive problems like lessened appetite, lethargy, and vomiting.
Can Dogs Have Sunflower Oil?
Yes, dogs can have sunflower oil, not more than a teaspoon, around one or two times a week. Small breeds may not need a teaspoon, while big dogs might require a little more than a teaspoon.
However, introduce the oil in small amounts and see how well your dog’s system adjusts. If your canine can digest the oil well without any hazard, you could continue giving him the same.
Sunflower oil has Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and other essential nutrients. It helps maintain healthy dog skin and even facilitates hair growth. Vitamin C is beneficial in the quick healing of wounds.
However, before adding sunflower oil to your dog’s diet, it is always advisable to talk to the vet.
Can Dogs Have Sunflower Butter?
Yes, dogs can have sunflower butter in moderation once in a while. However, they should not eat sunflower butter, having added sugar and salt. Moreover, you should also ensure that it isn’t a regular affair.
A spoonful of sunflower butter once or twice a month would be fine, not more than that.
Can Your Dog Eat Sunflower Seeds in the Shell?
No dogs should always eat shelled seeds. If it’s a puppy or a smaller breed, chances are that the shells could get stuck in their throat, leading to a choking hazard.
Moreover, if it is a bigger breed that manages to eat the shell, there are chances that the hard shells could get stuck in their intestines, resulting in a blockage. So, it is important to remove the shells from the seeds and give them to the dog.
Sunflowers aren’t considered toxic for dogs and pups. This means that they can eat any part of the sunflower plant. Yet, having said this, it is important to know that the sunflower plant isn’t considered a food source for dogs. So, eating excess amounts of it could trigger stomach upset.
Some seeds, like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds, are considered safe for dogs. However, many seeds are on the list that dogs mustn’t eat. These include apple seeds, which have cyanide. Then there are poppy seeds, which can produce toxic effects on dogs when ingested. You should even prevent your canine from eating pits of fruits like cherry and avocado.
Dogs can eat sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, too. However, pumpkin seeds have an increased fat content. So, dogs should be given pumpkin seeds in a lessened amount. When your dog eats too many pumpkin seeds, it could lead to gastrointestinal disorders and lead to stomach upset.
So, in conclusion, it can be said that sunflower seed isn’t a bad option for your dog when you give it to them in measured amounts. You should even remove the shells before giving them to your dog. Else, they could be hazardous for your dog. However, give it a small amount of the seed as a starter.
Monitor how well your dog is able to digest it. If you find your pet is allergic to sunflower seeds, has trouble breathing, or shows other signs of allergy, you should stop giving it to him immediately.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.