Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Yes, but make sure they are unsalted and avoid seasonings.
| Updated: December 29, 2023
woman holding sunflower seeds - can dogs eat sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds are a popular snack for humans, but can dogs enjoy them too? The answer is yes, but with some caveats. Sunflower seeds are not toxic to dogs, and they can provide some health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and fiber.

However, there are also some potential risks and drawbacks to feeding your dog sunflower seeds, so you should be careful and moderate.

Are Sunflower Seeds Bad for Dogs?

When it comes to human foods, sunflower seeds are one of the best for dogs, but they are not a complete or balanced food either. They should only be given as an occasional treat, and not as a substitute for high-quality dog food.

Sunflower seeds are high in healthy fat and calories while also being loaded with protein and vitamins and minerals like B3, B6, B1, copper, manganese, and selenium. They are also the single best food source for vitamin E – an important antioxidant for dogs and humans alike.

Just make sure the sunflower seeds you feed your dog are unsalted!

How Many is Too Many?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how many sunflower seeds you can give your dog. It depends on factors such as your dog’s size, weight, age, activity level, and health condition. However, a general rule of thumb is to limit a small dog to no more than 10 – 20 seeds per week and up to 40 for a large dog.

Moderation is key with any snacks or treats beyond your dog’s normal food.

limit a small dog to no more than 10 – 20 [sunflower] seeds per week and up to 40 a week for a large dog

Are There Risks to Feeding My Dog Sunflower Seeds?

Despite sunflower seeds providing your dog with some great health benefits, they can pose some risks to your pup if not given properly. Some of the possible complications are:

  • Choking hazard: Sunflower seeds, especially the shells, can be a choking hazard for dogs, especially in smaller breeds like pugs or Boston terriers. The shells are also non-digestable, meaning they will pass through your dog the same as when they entered. In some cases, when a dog eats too many shells it can cause constipation or diarrhea.
  • Digestive issues: Sunflower seeds are rich in fiber, which can be beneficial for your dog’s digestion, but also cause some problems if he/she is not used to it. Too much fiber can cause diarrhea, gas, bloating, or constipation in your dog. To avoid this, you can introduce the seeds gradually to your dog’s diet and only offer a small amount at a time.
  • Allergic reaction: Some dogs may be allergic to sunflower seeds or to other ingredients that producers might have added to them, such as oil, spices, or preservatives. Signs of an allergic reaction include itching, swelling, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog after giving him sunflower seeds, you should stop immediately and contact your veterinarian.

How Else Can I Keep My Dog Healthy?

Doing your own research, like looking up whether or not sunflower seeds are safe for your dog, is the best start.

Some breeds, like golden retrievers and beagles are more prone to obesity than others. Even then, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 59% of dogs in 2022 were considered obese. A proper diet is the number one way to keep your dog in shape – followed by exercise.

Unlike a lot of us, dogs don’t typically have a problem or aversion to exercise, and they’re not too busy with TikTok to go for a walk (I’m just as guilty as anyone else). Getting your dog out for as little as 30 minutes a day for a walk or to play is important.

Related Article: Can Dogs Eat Garlic?

Chase Roseberry Author Image
Chase Roseberry

Chase’s life has been a remarkable journey into the world of animals. From his time spent working with an equine Veterinarian, raising exotic snakes, and live coral aquaculture, his diverse background fuels his passion for the animal kingdom.

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