Staci is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing, she spends most of her time trying to keep up with her four rescue cats and Australian shepherd puppy.
Food General Food

Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Jul 24 ·

Can dogs eat sunflower seeds? If you enjoy snacking on sunflower seeds, you might be tempted to give a few to your dog.

However, before sliding anything from your own plate to your dog’s bowl, it’s important to do some research and check that the food you’re giving them is safe. So, what about sunflower seeds? Are those okay for dogs, or are they better avoided?

Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Sunflower seeds

Yes, as long as they’re plain and peeled, dogs can eat sunflower seeds!

Are They Safe?

Sunflower seeds are perfectly safe as long as you peel off the shell.

Are They Healthy?

Yes. Just as they do for humans, sunflower seeds have some properties that make them healthy for dogs.

The Benefits

A study done on dogs eating sunflower seeds found that including them in a canine’s diet made their skin and coat better. If your dog’s been having issues with their skin or their coat just isn’t looking as shiny lately, you might find that sunflower seeds are just what they need.

Sunflower seeds have high levels of vitamin E, which can reduce the risk of heart disease and also reduces inflammation. As well as this, it has things like phosphorus which will help your dog’s bones, and antioxidants. Antioxidants can help your dog protect themselves against major diseases like cancer as well as everyday viruses that they might pick up.

The Risks

sunflower seeds

The main risk when feeding your dog sunflower seeds comes from feeding them the shell. It’s very tough for a dog’s digestive system to break down, so you should make sure that you peel the seed entirely. If your dog does consume the shell, their body might not be able to handle it.

Another risk is if the sunflower seeds have been seasoned with anything. Salt and pepper are bad for dogs, but other seasonings can be downright toxic. Make sure they’re plain.

If your dog has too many salty things, over time, they could become obese. Obesity opens them up to a whole host of problems, from severe diseases like diabetes, to bone and joint problems. Keep an eye on your dog’s body condition and avoid salty foods — including seasoned sunflower seeds.

If you do accidentally give your dog the shells or salty sunflower seeds, you should contact your veterinarian for the best advice. What they’ll recommend depends on the size and weight of your dog, as well as how much they consumed.

How Much Can They Have?

The general rule is that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily diet, so sunflower seeds shouldn’t be coming anywhere close to this. You should always start out with a small handful to make sure your dog doesn’t have any issues digesting them.

Even without the shell, they might. Some dogs have extremely sensitive stomachs and are prone to issues with new food. This is especially true of small breeds and puppies under six months old, so ease them into anything new that you might be trying to feed them.

Signs that they might not be taking the new food well include:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Excessive thirst
  • Loss of appetite afterwards

Serving Ideas

Sunflower seeds

When feeding sunflower seeds, you can give them to your dog as a plain snack. However, some dogs might not find this particularly appetizing.

You can sprinkle some through their food to bulk it up and add some skin and coat health. You could also put it in a KONG with some other foods, some as fruits or vegetables, and freeze the KONG if you want it to last longer. Some peanut butter is safe for dogs, so this is always a good idea to mix in with it too!

Other Snacks

If your dog has shown sensitivities to sunflower seeds or you’re just looking for something they can enjoy more, never fear. There are a lot of things that are safe to feed your dog you might enjoy on an everyday basis, including:

Just make sure you do your research. Although many owners are prone to slipping things off their plate onto the floor for their dog, it’s not safe to do so without checking the food out first. Just because it’s safe for humans, doesn’t mean it’s the same for dogs!

Some food that’s safe for humans can even be toxic for dogs, such as grapes.

So, can dogs eat sunflower seeds? The answer is yes, with some conditions! Make sure the sunflower seeds are peeled and completely plain, and start your pup off slow to make sure they aren’t too sensitive to them. If you do this and are careful, there’s no reason your dog can’t enjoy the health benefits that sunflower seeds have to offer.

Staci is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. When not writing, she spends most of her time trying to keep up with her four rescue cats and Australian shepherd puppy.
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