Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds? Everything You Need To Know

Yes, dogs can eat sunflower seeds that are edible and should always be peeled. Sunflower seeds are a great source of nutrients and make a good supplement that can be added to a dog’s diet. Sunflower seeds are tasty and contain essential fatty acids, proteins, minerals and vitamins. Sunflower seeds also have a high amount of Vitamin E, a necessary part of the canine diet. They also are filled with antioxidants which help in lowering cholesterol. In addition, Vitamin E helps in producing energy and improves metabolism. However, dogs should be fed with sunflower seeds occasionally as they also have a high amount of carbohydrates and fat.

What are Sunflower Seeds?

Sunflower seeds are grown from the sunflower plant biologically called Helianthus annuus, a tall, herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Asteraceae. The seeds are harvested from the plant’s large flower heads. They are small and conical with a black exterior and a single edible kernel. They are packed with nutrients and have a mild, nutty flavor. 

Sunflower Seeds Nutritional Value

Sunflower seeds are full of vitamins and minerals and are a great source of health supplements for dogs. A ¼ cup of peeled sunflower seeds contains:

  • Calories
  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Fiber
  • Vitamins
  • Copper
  • Vitamin B1
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate 
  • Vitamin B3
  • Magnesium

History of Sunflower Seeds

The sunflower is a plant that is native to North America. These plants were grown as a crop by the tribes over 4500 years ago. Native Americans cultivated the bushy Sunflower plants and turned them into single-stemmed plants with large flowers. The crop has multiple uses, including flour to make bread and cakes. The seeds are extracted, roasted, and eaten as a snack or mixed with other grains. The early Americans were the ones who discovered Sunflower oil and started to use it in cooking. The European travelers found this crop in 1510, but the Spanish took the seeds to Europe. Sunflowers were used as exotic flowers and decorations across Western Europe for the next 200 years, but their nutritional value was overlooked. 

Are Sunflower Seeds Safe for Dogs?

Yes, Sunflower seeds are safe for dogs and are not toxic. Dogs can consume them in small amounts. Make sure the seeds are dried, clean, and peeled. The husks should be removed as the sunflower kernels are the edible part. The black shell of the seed is toxic to dogs and can cause severe diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress. Sunflower seeds are an excellent nutritional supplement and can be roasted before adding to the diet. Always feed sunflower seeds unsalted, without oil and seasoning. You can also provide commercial dog food or diets with sunflower seeds as an ingredient. 

Why are Sunflower Seeds Good for Dogs?

The nutritional value of Sunflower seeds includes:

Antioxidants and vitamins: Antioxidants and vitamins: Sunflower seed contains several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, and vitamin C. It also helps to maintain the immune system and improve a dog’s memory and cognition.

Magnesium: Magnesium is essential for a dog’s health, and it helps in numerous ways to keep your canine’s health on point. Magnesium helps in improving:

  • Urinary Tract Issues 
  • Constipation
  • Digestive disorders 
  • Cures the irregular heartbeat
  • Generate energy 
  • Reduces stress and anxiety issues
  • Helps in bone development

Zinc: Zinc is a mineral found in numerous things in the dog’s body, including enzymes, proteins, and hormones. Zinc is also necessary for the immune system and thyroid function. Therefore, zinc insufficiency can cause various issues in dogs, including incapability of infection protection.

Dietary fiber:  Fiber is an excellent source of nutrients for a dog’s digestive system. The healthy bacteria usually found in your dog’s colon digest fiber into fatty acids. This fatty acid then aids in the recovery of the colon by preventing the expansion of any harmful bacteria. 

Phosphorus: Necessarily healthy for bone health, fights free radicals and boosts brain health. 

Vitamin B3: Vitamin B3 or Niacin helps in energy production and healthy blood circulation, keeps the heart-healthy, and helps in various chemical signals. 

Folate: Folate ensures fast cell development during puppyhood, adulthood, and pregnancy, regulates homocysteine levels in the blood, and employs amino acids to construct new proteins. Vitamin B9 or folate has a role in regular blood production, immunological function, cell division, and tissue development. 

Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is vital for a healthy immune system. However, vitamin B6 is engaged in over 100 different interactions during the breakdown and digestion of meals. Vitamin B6 also aids in the correct development of a puppy’s brain during pregnancy and early puppyhood. 

Along with the nutritional benefits, sunflower seeds also help improve the dog’s coat and skin. A few benefits are listed below:

  • Sunflower seeds help in the production of good cholesterol.
  • Sunflower seeds help to relieve stress and depression in dogs.
  • Minerals in Sunflower seed promote overall health in dogs. 
  • Vitamin E in sunflower oil is an excellent antioxidant.

Why are Sunflower Seeds Bad for Dogs?

Sunflower seeds are mainly suitable for dogs, but it has some health risks when fed in certain ways.

Salted Sunflower seeds: The sunflower seeds should not be salted while feeding the dogs. The salted sunflower seeds, when consumed, cause health complications like sodium toxicosis. The symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, urination, and excessive thirst.

Shelled Sunflower seeds: The shelled Sunflower seeds are hazardous to dogs and should never be fed. They are not digestible to dogs and can cause choking. When consumed by a dog, it leads to severe health problems like gastrointestinal blockage, becoming a life-threatening situation.

Excess consumption of Sunflower seeds: Dogs should be fed Sunflower seeds moderately, and excessive consumption leads to diarrhea and vomiting. The high amount of fat in the seeds is bad for the stomach and difficult to break down.

How Many Sunflower Seeds to Serve Your Dog?

The quantity is vital while feeding sunflower seeds to dogs. A small dog should not be fed with more than 10-20 seeds a week, and a large dog can not eat 20- 40 seeds in a week. As these are high in calories, they should be fed with limitations. Also, more care should be taken while feeding sunflower butter or oil as they contain more calories than the seed. Sunflower seeds have many health benefits when consumed in moderation.

How to Serve Sunflower Seeds to Your Dog?

The Sunflower seeds can be fed to a dog in the following ways:

  • Peeled Sunflower seeds
  • Unsalted
  • Dried
  • Roasted
  • Sunflower butter in moderation as an occasional treat

Frequently Asked Questions

Can dogs eat Sunflower seeds?

Yes. Dogs can eat Sunflower seeds in moderation or as an occasional treat.

Can dogs eat Sunflower oil? 

Sunflower oil is not toxic to dogs but can be avoided including in the diet due to its high calories

Can dogs eat Sunflower butter?

Sunflower butter is higher in calories than seeds and can be fed as a rare treat.

What happens if your dog eats Sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds are safe for dogs when consumed. Yet, the seeds should be peeled and unsalted to avoid health hazards.

Are Sunflower seeds toxic to dogs?

Sunflower seeds are not toxic to dogs when consumed in moderation.

Can Sunflower seeds lead to health problems?

Yes, excessive consumption of Sunflower seeds can make dogs sick.

Final Thoughts

The numerous vitamins and minerals that sunflower seeds contain can improve your dog’s health when fed in a limited amount. Pet owners must buy only natural sunflower seeds with no additional salt, spices, or flavors. All sunflower seeds must be peeled before being fed to your dog. Sunflower seeds can be highly healthy and nutritious for your dog if you follow the instructions, and they can improve his skin and coat.

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