If you also have a dog that steals snacks off the counter or wherever you left them, your concern about their health is valid. One of the most common snacks that they are able to put their noses on is sunflower seeds. So you might ask, can dogs eat sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds are safe for your dogs, and they can even give a considerable amount of vitamins and minerals that are essential to them. However, sunflower seeds may still pose a health risk to your dogs. You have to know that there is a limit on how much they could eat sunflower seeds and that there is a particular way on how to consume them.
If you want to know the number of sunflower seeds that could make your dog healthy and how to prepare it for them, this article is for you.
What are sunflower seeds?
Sunflower seeds are actually the fruit of sunflower plants. It is the black, 10-15mm long, broad, drop-shaped seeds that can be scraped off of dried and droopy sunflower disc florets.
These seeds are usually used as a snack, toppings on pastry goods, or a salad garnish. They can also be processed into sunflower oil which is what it is mostly harvested for.
Sunflower seeds also give a long list of health benefits. It can serve as an antioxidant, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hypertensive supplement.
It is rich in vitamin E, protein, unsaturated fats, fiber, and other important vitamins and minerals in our body. However, is it safe for your dog to ingest them?
Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds? Are sunflower seeds safe for dogs?
Sunflower seeds are safe for dogs, as long as you know the correct preparation of this and how you are supposed to feed them.
In fact, one of the most recent studies conducted by Rees, et. al. last 2001 has shown the good benefits of sunflower seeds supplementation to canines. In their animal study, 18 normal dogs were given a month-long sunflower seeds supplementation and they all showed improvement in skin and hair coat.
A lot of researchers and veterinarians have also claimed and proven that the components present in sunflower seeds can manage dermatitis and canine diabetes.
What are the health benefits of sunflower seeds in dogs?
Some of the health benefits that your dog can get from sunflower seeds are the following:
A hundred grams of sunflower seeds contain 21g of protein, which means a handful of sunflower seeds is packed with a significant amount of protein that could supply amino acids to build your dog’s coat, skin, nails, muscles, and bones. It is recommended by veterinarians that dogs should get 1 gram of protein per pound of their ideal body weight.
Dogs cannot make their own fatty acids unlike other living beings, therefore, it is important for you as a dog owner to make sure that they are getting enough essential fatty acids in their diet, especially if you are feeding your dogs raw food or plant-based food.
Food rich in unsaturated fats like oily fish, flaxseed, sesame oil, and sunflower seeds is essential in their diet.
Most domesticated dogs, unlike wild dogs, have very delicate intestines. This often leads to indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, or for severe cases, even colon cancer.
This problem, even if it is something that you should not ignore, is something that you can prevent. Including fiber in your dog’s diet is important prevention against these diseases.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of fiber as 100 grams of this could give 9 grams of dietary fiber to your dogs.
Sunflower seeds contain significant amounts of vitamin E or alpha-tocopherol (37.8mg/100g). This vitamin is considered to be a potent antioxidant, which could prevent or control free radicals and oxidative stress that occurs in your dogs’ bodies.
Vitamin E is also known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Again, dogs’ bodies could not produce their own Vitamin E, therefore it is important for you to include this in their diet.
Although Selenium is a trace element in dogs, it is still essential. It helps with your dog’s thyroid hormone metabolism which consequently improves its immune system and aids in treating and preventing cancer.
If your dogs’ diet includes kibbles or dog food, make sure that they have 0.11mg/kg of selenium in every serving of food. If it is indicated in the packet that they provide less than that, you might as well supplement their food with sunflower seeds.
Adult dogs require 0.5mg/kg dietary iron and this is slightly higher in puppies. It is a must that you give this amount to your dogs because iron is a vital component of many metabolic functions in dogs, including oxygen transportation in their bodies.
Believe it or not, but even dogs can suffer from anemia, so if you prefer prevention than cure, see to it that your dog’s daily iron needs are met.
Should you add sunflower seeds to your dog’s diet?
Yes! You should add sunflower seeds to your dog’s diet, especially if their kibbles of dog food don’t provide the complete vitamins and minerals that they need every day.
Adding sunflower seeds to your dog’s diet is also a must, especially if you are giving them a raw diet.
Dogs are naturally carnivores, so I actually prefer raw feeding over dry dog food. However, lean meat and meat trimmings don’t provide them the trace elements and minerals that they need which are actually found in plants.
This is why I strongly advocate including healthy fat sources such as sunflower seeds in their diet.
How Much Sunflower Seeds Should You Give To Your Dog?
Sunflower seeds are something that you and your dog can enjoy, but everything should still be consumed in moderation, and these seeds are not an exemption to that.
If you own a small dog who needs lower caloric consumption every day, you can give them about 5 grams of sunflower seeds which are approximately 10-20 seeds every week.
Bigger dogs, on the other hand, may eat about 10grams of sunflower seeds every week, so you can give them 20-40 seeds.
This is also a handy trick that I would like to share from a pet owner like me with an extremely picky eater pet: if you happen to own a food grinder in your kitchen, I would highly recommend that you use it to pulverize these seeds and keep them in a salt shaker so you can make your dog believe that you are putting a taste enhancer in their food. This would definitely make them drool even more.
Can sunflower seeds be poisonous to dogs?
Sunflower seeds are not poisonous to dogs. In fact, they offer a lot of health benefits that I have stated above which could be of big help for your dog to reach their daily nutritional needs.
Still, everything should be given in moderation as sunflower seeds have a high-fat content which could be harmful to your dog’s metabolism and gastrointestinal health.
What are the potential side effects of sunflower seeds for dogs?
Too much consumption of sunflower seeds may lead to constipation, diarrhea, or other intestinal problems for your dog.
Constant feeding of sunflower seeds can also lead to weight gain, so just like for us humans, you also have to be mindful of the amount of anything that you feed to your dogs, sunflower seeds or not.
Can dogs have sunflower seed oil?
You have probably seen pet owners in social media feeding their dogs the new hyped sunflower seed oil products or incorporating this in their diet, do you think of getting one for your dog.
However, before you add anything to your online cart and proceed to checkout, make sure that you fully understand the science behind it.
Sunflower seeds, on their own, are filled with unsaturated fats, so most probably, sunflower seed oil also has a high unsaturated fat content.
Don’t get me wrong, unsaturated fats are good for your dogs’ coats and metabolism, but too much of this could lead to weight and intestinal problems.
We don’t want to risk that, and it is easier on your part to monitor your dog’s consumption with the whole sunflower seeds than the processed sunflower oil, so carefully weigh your options and pick the one that would benefit your dog more.
You are also not sure how they process the sunflower oil, so it is better if you prepare it on your own.
Can dogs eat sunflower seed shells?
Dogs should not eat sunflower seed shells, which are the black outer covering of a sunflower seed.
The only thing that your dog should be consuming from a sunflower seed is its kernel because sunflower seed shells are indigestible and could even pose a choking hazard for them.
You can purchase sunflower seed kernels on their own from the market, but you can also buy sunflower seeds on their own and remove the shells manually.
As a fur parent myself, I know that it is a daily struggle on what to feed a dog because we would want to give them the food which would make them live a long and healthy life.
Now, there are a lot of ‘This is What You Should Feed Your Dog’ articles that you can see on the internet, but always do your research, validate the information you get using scientific journals conducted by certified veterinarians, ask other fur parents on what to do and make sure to always visit our site for more tips and tricks on what and what not to feed your dog.