We all know that dogs like to share everything with their owners, including (and perhaps especially) food.
If you love snacking on pumpkin or sunflower seeds, it can be tempting to give them to your dog every now and then.
But should you?
Pumpkin and sunflower seeds belong in the category of human foods that are okay for dogs to eat, but there are some guidelines that must be followed.
In this post, you’ll find out how to safely feed your dog these seeds and what the potential health benefits and risks are.
What Are the Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds?
Pumpkin is known to have a number of health benefits for your dog, such as easing constipation. Pumpkin seeds are also safe for dogs to eat and provide a great nutritional value as they contain protein, iron, fiber, zinc, copper, magnesium, calcium and more.
For both humans and canines, pumpkin seeds can help fight cancer, reduce inflammation, prevent heart disease, lower blood sugar levels and improve bladder health. Because of their high fiber content, pumpkin seeds can also aid digestion and boost weight loss.
Additionally, pumpkin seeds help deworm your dog. This is because they contain the amino acid cucurbitin, which can paralyze the worms and move them out of the intestine.
Although it’s considered a safe and natural way to rid your dog of parasites, you should always talk to your vet before using pumpkin seeds as a dewormer.
Likewise, if your dog has diabetes or kidney problems, talk to your vet before giving him pumpkin seeds, as they may throw his nutrition off-balance and cause illness.
How Much Pumpkin Seeds Should I Give My Dog?
To safely feed your dog pumpkin seeds, you must peel, roast and grind them. Raw pumpkin seeds spoil quickly and become rancid, which can make your dog ill.
Tip: You can use a coffee grinder or food processor to easily mash the seeds up.
For tapeworms, feed your dog a quarter of a teaspoon of ground pumpkin seeds per 10 pounds of body weight once or twice daily.
For example, if your dog weighs 20 pounds, you can give him a half teaspoon of ground pumpkin seeds each day or give him another dose again later in the day if he needs a stronger treatment.
Dogs generally like the taste of pumpkin seeds, but the powder texture may be tricky for them. So, it’s best to mix the ground seeds in with their food or sprinkle it on top.
READ THIS: How to Get Your Dog to Eat Dog Food Again?
What Are the Health Benefits of Sunflower Seeds?
Sunflower seeds are highly beneficial to the health of both dogs and humans. They’re packed with protein, fiber and healthy fats, a well as vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, vitamin E, magnesium, copper, manganese, selenium, folate and phosphorus.
The contents of sunflower seeds can help lower your dog’s bad cholesterol while raising his good cholesterol. In addition, the antioxidants help protect your dog from harmful radicals, and the vitamin E assists your dog’s fat metabolism.
On top of that, sunflower seeds can help make your dog’s coat glossy and full, and even heal and prevent itchy dry skin and painful hot spots.
The mental health benefits of sunflower seeds, which also apply to dogs, include improved brain activity and fighting depression, anxiety and fatigue.
However, if your dog has liver issues, talk to your vet first before feeding him sunflower seeds, as the high copper content can make his liver problems worse.
How Much Sunflower Seeds Should I Give My Dog?
While they provide many health benefits, sunflower seeds aren’t an essential part of your dog’s diet and therefore, should only be fed to him in very small quantities.
If you have a small dog, feed him no more than 10-20 seeds per week, and 20-40 seeds per week for a larger dog. This may sound like a small amount, but it’s really not.
Remember that sunflower seeds are high calorie and high fat, so eating too many can actually cause health issues.
The best way to ensure you’re sticking to the recommended amount is to make homemade treats containing 10-40 seeds and feed them to your dog throughout the week. Otherwise, sprinkle just a few seeds on top of his regular food.
Did you know? Besides pumpkin and sunflower seeds, dogs can also safely eat quinoa, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed and hemp seeds.
What to Avoid When Giving Your Dog Seeds?
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Don’t Give Your Dog Salted Seeds: Most seeds for humans are salted, which means you must read the label very carefully to ensure the seeds you give your pup are unsalted.
Dogs are generally sensitive to salt and adding too much to their diet – even in just a few seeds – can throw off their dietary balance and cause serious health problems, including sodium toxicosis.
Some signs of sodium toxicosis are:
- unusual thirst
- frequent urination
If you suspect your dog has eaten salted seeds, keep an eye on him, and if he exhibits any of the described symptoms, take him to the vet immediately.
Don’t Give Your Dog Shelled Seeds: Dogs can’t chew up and spit out the shells of seeds like humans can, and this can cause stomach problems or even scrape or puncture their mouths, throats and stomachs.
Therefore, make sure you remove the shell first or only buy shelled seeds for your dog.
Don’t Give Your Dog Poisonous Seeds: As a general rule, you shouldn’t give your dog fruit seeds and pits.
While watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe seeds are ok moderately, apple seeds, peach pits, cherry pits and plum pits all contain cyanide and can cause severe illness in dogs over time.
Although not technically seeds, it’s worth noting that some nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans and macadamia nuts can be toxic for dogs, too.
You have to be very careful about the things you allow your dog to eat. Lots of human foods are okay in small quantities, while other common ingredients in human food can be toxic for your dog to consume.
Luckily, with correct use and good portion management, certain seeds (like pumpkin and sunflower seeds) can offer a number of great benefits for dogs. In fact, pumpkin seeds may even be a natural alternative to deworming medicine.
Now that you know how to safely feed your dog seeds, go out and buy some natural unsalted seeds without the shell to share with your good boy!
Do you think dogs should eat sunflower or pumpkin seeds? Tell us in the comments!
Li-ran is the Founder and Executive Editor at PuppyTip. He is a holistic pet parent and believes that dogs can teach us more than we could ever teach them. He also loves cooking, especially for his dog, Richie!