Are Sunflower Seeds Kernels Bad for Dogs to Have?

“I have a French Bulldog at home that loves to eat all food types it finds on the ground.  Recently I saw it pick up a sunflower seed from under the table, and before I could do anything, he swallowed it. This made me very concerned as to the health implications of consuming such food. After a period of close monitoring, I was glad that he didn’t exhibit any strange symptoms. However, I had already embarked on research to understand the health implications of a dog consuming sunflower seeds and other similar food.”

This is a common experience with many dog owners. As you know, dogs tend to sometimes swallow things without warning leaving us to worry about the implications. In this article, I will 

be sharing my findings with you in this article regarding how sage sunflower seeds are for your dog.

Should Dogs be Allowed to Eat Sunflower Seeds? 

Dogs are our adorable pets we often regard them as the best friend of humans among every other creature in the animal kingdom. They have lived with us for ages, and since then, we have been responsible for their upkeep and well-being while they provide us with companionship and security (in some cases). 

Except your dog is well trained as to where, what, and when to eat, it may go about picking things up from around the house. Suppose you’ve ever wondered if it was possible to feed your dog with some sun flower seeds, the answer is-Yes! Your Dogs can eat moderate amounts of sunflower seeds, although as the owner, you should give it to him with utmost caution.  

The sunflower seeds must be peeled from the shell and unsalted. If possible, you can grind it into powder to be sprinkled over their meal as a special treat. It is not toxic and has lots of health benefits.  Although dogs can eat sunflower seeds without shells, allowing them to eat it that way is a completely different debate.  We will explore that shortly.

Is a Sunflower Seed Toxic for Dogs?

The seeds are not toxic to dogs but do not allow them to eat too much of it and never allow them to eat it while the shells are yet to be removed. Although I didn’t find any scientific references about sunflowers being poisonous to dogs, I found helpful research on that stated the harmful effect of the seed on people when they eat too much sunflower of it.

According to the research, excessive intake of sunflower seeds can result in a problem of excessive phosphorous. Since phosphorus is responsible for the metabolism of calcium, too much phosphorus will therefore lead to a shortage of calcium in the body, thereby stunting the development of the skeletal structure and causing kidney damage. Excessive selenium intake also leads to hair and nail breakage, rashes, fatigue, etc., which, if not properly managed, can lead to death.

Should Dogs eat the Shell of Sunflower Seeds?

So, you’ve finally decided to allow your dog to eat sunflower seeds; it is not a bad idea. However, you must always be ready to first remove the hard shell or simply go for the seedless variety. Although dogs can eat the kernels of sunflower seeds moderately, the hard shell must be completely removed. 

Since dogs don’t know how to remove shells from their food as birds and rodents would, it can be a serious issue due to the coarse nature of the shell, and the digestive system of the dog won’t be able to break it down. It can therefore cause serious digestive problems, and of course, diarrhea.  If a human being eats a sunflower seed, he cracks the shell and spews it.  Dogs are not that sophisticated, and thus, the bark can suffocate them and get stuck inside their intestines or cause stomach discomfort.

Effect of  Sunflower Seeds on Dogs

The effect sunflower seeds will have on your dog depends on how much they eat, how the seeds were prepared, and if the shells were removed or not.

For instance, if you feed your dog a complete bag of sunflower seeds, I cannot imagine what will come up as a result of that. It may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and even choking.  Therefore, you must be strict about how much of it your dog can have. We recommend nothing more than a tablespoon per serving. Sunflower seeds can be beneficial for your dog, even though it is not a good idea to quickly start adding seeds into your dog’s diet. However, they offer numerous health benefits, according to medical research, I recently came across. But, the research was done on humans, not dogs.  

I decided to go with this since I couldn’t find any study relating to dog consumption of sunflower seeds except one that talked about sunflower seeds being beneficial to Dog’s hair and skin.

How Best to Include Sunflower Seeds into Your Dog’s Diet

If I allowed my dog to eat sunflower seeds, it would be in the ground form, and I’ll grind them myself without the shell and make sure no salt is in the seed. Before doing that, I’ll wash off the dirt covering the seeds.  To serve, I’ll sprinkle a small amount over the food. There are several dog-friendly homemade recipes of sunflower seeds, and I found one at  

Although I’m yet to try it out, the person who created it said she started making her dog ​​food by herself and found it to be the perfect treat for the dog you love. If you add sunflower seeds to whole grains, it will grab your dog’s attention immediately. Be however strict with portions you give them. According to an article on, a quarter cup of sunflower seeds contains 204 calories.  Therefore,   it won’t take long for your dog to eat a reasonable amount of sunflower seeds before they start gaining weight. 

Should I Give Sunflower Seed Butter to my Dog?

You Dogs can have some sunflower seed butter in moderation. It should only be consumed as a snack because it is high in calories and fat.  I usually recommend that snack only comprise 10% of the daily calories of a dog. As I said earlier, Sunflower seeds butter is ok for your dogs, but you must apply restraint for it to be healthy. Many dog ​​owners now use sunflower butter in place of peanut butter because of the presence of xylitol (a chemical harmful to dogs) in most peanut butter.

Is sunflower seed oil Safe for Dogs?

Sunflower oil is obtained from extracting it from the sunflower seed. The resultant oil is natural and enriched with fatty acids. On the plus side, this oil contains low amounts of saturated fats, which is harmful to the health and well-being of your dog. No wonder it is usually added as a source of omega-six fatty acids in a dog’s diet. It has found use in several commercial dog food.

Handy tip: I often put a little sunflower oil on a dog’s nose as it dries and cracks.  It can also be applied on a dog’s paws when dried dry out, especially during summer. Omega-6 fatty acids are believed to promote your dog’s health, coupled with the benefits of having soft and shiny fur and a robust immune system. You’d find several references that support this online. Due to this, we can safely conclude that dogs can have sunflower seed oil, but I would not recommend that you give them too much of it. Just like every other product of sunflower seeds we have discussed so far in this article; moderation is key.  

The reason is that large amounts of sunflower oil contain too much omega-6, and putting too much of that in your dog’s body is not safe. Experts have said it leads to inflammation and also increases the chances of cancer, according to Dr. Dressler on He noted that when there are too much omega-6 and an omega-3 deficiency, something will go wrong. Excessive consumption of omega-6 acids ends up suppressing the cells instrumental in helping the body fight cancer. The omega-6 acid group generally promotes inflammation, which is one of the major culprits in causing cancer. 

Other Alternatives?

In a situation where your dog is deficient in omega 3 and 6 and needs better fur and skin health, instead of feeding it with sunflower seeds oil, get a single oil supplement for it. There is a lot on the market, but in my opinion, fish oil rich in  omega-3 and six will do a perfect job.


As we have seen so far, Sunflower seeds are a great snack for your dog and should be served as special treats for them. Sunflower seeds and other derivatives such as sunflower seed butter and sunflower seed oil are all great and serve different purposes for your dogs wellbeing.

Due to the high calories contained in the sunflower seeds, it can cause harm to your dog, therefore you must apply moderation when feeding your dog with it. As I recommended in the article, try grinding it into powder and sprinkle on other dog food from time to time.

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