Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds: Safe or Dangerous?

Sunflower seeds are a favorite food for human, especially when friends are gathering. We always call a plate of these seeds along with our coffee while hanging out. Surprisingly, this kind of food is not only for fun, but also a nutritious source of elements which provides protein, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins. So there are a lots of benefits for human from sunflower seeds. So how about dog – one of our best friend? Can dogs eat sunflower seeds? This is the most popular question that I’ve been asked from dog owners through many years.

My short answer is YES. Dogs can eat sunflower seeds, but you need to be careful about size, moderation, unsalted and shelled seeds. Don’t forget to check all of them carefully before giving them to your dog to avoid any harmful may cause.

Today, we will dig deeper about sunflower seeds for dogs topic, what health benefits they provide, side effects may occur and how to feed our dogs safely. Okay, let’s start.

What are Sunflower seeds?

Sunflower seeds are basically the fruits of the sunflower, a plant with rays of petals emanating from its bright yellow, seed-studded center. The Latin name of sunflower, Helianthus annuus, reflects its solar appearance while helios is the Greek word for sun, and anthos is the Greek word for flower.

The seeds are harvested from the plant’s big flower heads, which can be more than 12 inches (equals to 30.5 cm) in diameter. One sunflower head may provide up to 2,000 seeds.

sunflower seeds images

There are two main types of sunflower crops in natural. One is grown for the seeds we eat, while the other (which is the majority farmed) is grown for making oil. Because these seeds have a very high oil content, they are used to produce polyunsaturated oil. Shelled sunflower seeds have a mild nutty taste and firm, but tender texture.

In this article, we only focus on the first type which both us and our dogs can eat as a good source of nutrition.

Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Seeds?

From our knowledge and experiences, dogs are able to eat sunflower seeds, but with a few attention. You need to know how to feed them to avoid any unwanted problems.

We all know that dogs do not have flexible fingers like us to peel any seeds they eat. And they do not know how to remove the shells with their teeth in a right way. So you should peel those seeds before giving them to your dogs. If they swallow the actual black shell of the sunflower seed, they may get choked or diarrhea and gastrointestinal distress.

can dogs eat sunflower seeds

One more thing that you should pay attention for is that those seeds should not have any added salt because high sodium levels may put your dogs in health issues like high blood pressure.

Sunflower seeds contain a lots of vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin E
  • Manganese
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin B3
  • Vitamin B6
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus
  • Copper
  • Folate

Because of those elements above, sunflower seeds are great for human’s skin and health. So can dogs eat sunflower seeds and obtain the same benefits? A small research showed that sunflower seeds do improve dog’s hair coat and skin.

So sunflower seeds are not only a food that dogs can eat while hungry but they turn out to be a very healthy snacks for our little pets.

5 Benefits of Sunflower Seeds for Dogs

Let’s have a look at those benefits which sunflower seeds can bring to our dogs, mostly on health side.

Promote good cholesterol

The fatty acids inside sunflower seeds support the body to lower production of bad cholesterol and promote good cholesterol. This benefit helps dogs lower blood pressure and reduce the chance of getting heart disease or stroke.

An important antioxidant

Sunflower seeds contain Vitamin E which is an essential element for the formation of fat metabolism, the respiration of cells, and the creation of the membranes that surround cells. Vitamin E also helps to protect dog’s skin from harmful oxygen-free radicals.

Improve dog’s hair coat and skin

Like we said above, researches show some improvements in dog’s hair coat and skin after ingesting sunflower seeds for a period of time. Because they have essential fatty acids. These fatty acids will allow your dogs to have a full, shiny, healthy coat that is less likely to exhibit roughness or skin ailments like rashes, hot spots, and dry skin.

Relieve stress and depression in dogs

Sunflower seeds are also full of B-complex vitamins, specifically niacin and pyridoxine, both of which can be credited with enhancing brain activity and reducing neurosis and anxiety.

Additionally, sunflower seeds are high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid which increases the amount of serotonin in the dog’s brain. Serotonin, in turn, improves a dog’s recovery from stress and decreases aggressive behaviors.

sunflower seeds benefits

Manage diabetes

Magnesium inside sunflower seeds is an essential nutrient for controlling diabetes. It helps regulate blood sugar.

So there are many benefits of sunflower seeds which we can easily understand. But is there any risks?

3 Side Effects of Sunflower Seeds May Occur

You should be aware of this risks below to avoid any harmful may cause for your lovely dogs.

Feeding too much

You shouldn’t give too much sunflower seeds for your dogs. These seeds are high in fats which can be harsh on a dog’s stomach and difficult to break down.

Some seeds are salted

Sunflower seeds are mainly made for human so they are always salted. Feeding salted seeds to your dogs may cause serious health issues such as sodium toxicosis, which may range from mild to severe in diagnosis. Symptoms include imbalance, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and excessive thirst and urination.

Seed’s shell

When you order sunflower seeds from the market, they are shelled. Eating shelled seeds can pose a choking hazard. A dog who eats too many shelled seeds takes the risk of a gastrointestinal blockage or obstruction, which can quickly become a life-threatening problem.


So we answered your question that is “can dogs eat sunflower seeds”. If you follow all the directions above, there will be no serious issues. Since sunflower seeds are good for both human and dogs, you can share this great food with your own dogs while playing with them. Have a good time with your pets!

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