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My Dog Just Ate Sunflowers! Are Sunflowers Safe or Toxic to Dogs?

Dogs are inquisitive creatures, especially around our gardens and planting areas at home. It's quite common for dogs to explore their worlds with their mouth, even the local flora in your yard. So what about when Fido eats Sunflowers? Are they safe or toxic to our pups? Veterinarian Joanna Woodnutt takes a deeper look.

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Last Updated: August 9, 2021 | 6 min read

Dog Ate Sunflower

This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not substitute as contact with a trained professional. If your dog ate a sunflower and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

We all love the sight of sunflowers with their cheerful, happy, bright yellow flowers. These joyful plants are sure to put a smile on your face, even on the dampest of days! This is why so many of us love to grow them in our gardens every year.

But if you are a pet parent, you might be wondering if it’s safe to plant them in your garden. Are sunflowers toxic to dogs? You’ll be pleased to hear that sunflowers are non-toxic to dogs, which means they are a great addition to a dog-friendly garden.

Similar to petunias, and lilacs, and cornflowers, this means you can grow them worry-free, knowing that they cannot bring much harm to your furry friend. But there are still a few things you need to be aware of if Fido managed to get his paws on your plants!

Are Sunflowers Poisonous to Dogs?

Blonde Dachshund Smelling Yellow Flower
Sunflowers are not poisonous and will not harm your dog.

The good news for pet parents is that sunflowers are not poisonous to dogs. The flower, seeds, leaves, and stems will not cause your furry friend any harm if he eats them. This means they are a great choice for planting in a dog-friendly garden!

However, this doesn’t mean you can give Fido the all-clear to chew up all your beautiful plants!

Plant material, such as sunflowers, will usually pass through your pup’s digestive system without causing any issues. But many dogs will have some mild vomiting or diarrhea after eating plant material, especially if they have eaten a lot of it. This is not usually anything to worry about and tends to clear up quickly without treatment.

What Happens if My Dog Ate a Sunflower?

Although sunflowers are non-toxic, they can still cause problems for dogs, directly or indirectly. It’s important to understand what the risks are. You’ll also want to understand what you’re in for if Fido ate too many sunflowers in one sitting. Too much of anything is usually bad for our canine companions.

Obstruction in the Digestive System

Brown Chihuahua Being Checked by Vet
It is possible for sunflowers to cause bowel obstructions in our pets.

Your dog could run into trouble if he eats an excessive amount of sunflowers. The shells of sunflower seeds cannot be digested, and excessive raw plant material in the digestive tract could, in extreme cases, cause a blockage. This can be a serious condition if not treated quickly.

If your dog is suffering from an obstruction in his digestive system, you will usually notice symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, tummy pain, constipation, and lethargy. If you notice any of these signs after eating any parts of a sunflower plant, then you should take them to the veterinarian as soon as possible to be checked.

Insecticides and Pesticides

Yellow Flower Plant With Sign for No Pesticides
Pesticides are dangerous for dogs and pose a threat if consumed.

Your pup may not be the only creature in the garden that thinks your sunflowers are tasty – many insects also like to sink their teeth into these beautiful plants. Keen gardeners often spray their plants with insecticides to prevent them from being damaged and eaten by insects, but you may not realize that these nasty chemicals can also be harmful. Insecticides and pesticides are toxic to dogs and can make them very unwell.

Symptoms of poisoning might include vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, excessive drinking, drooling, tremors, lethargy, skin irritation, seizures, and collapse. But the symptoms can vary depending on the type of insecticide that’s been ingested.

If your dog shows any of these symptoms after eating a sunflower plant, you will need to contact your veterinarian straight away. It can be really helpful to take the packaging of any insecticides with you to the clinic, as knowing the ingredients can help the veterinarian to treat your pet appropriately.

My Dog Ate a Sunflower – What Now?

Sad Dog Lying Down
It is best to monitor your furry friend if it eats sunflowers.

If your dog has eaten any part of a sunflower plant, he should be absolutely fine as sunflowers are non-toxic. However, if you do find Fido munching away on your favorite plant, here’s what to do!

Step #1: Take Away The Plant

Take the plant away. You can either call them away using a high-quality food-based reward or take the plant away from them and put it out of their reach or in the trash. If your pup is very intent on continuing to chew the sunflower, put them in a seucre location.

Step #2: Identity What Was Consumed

Check how much and which parts of the plant was consumed. This will help identify if Fido ate a part of the plant that’s more likely to cause an obstruction.

Step #3: Watch For Symptoms

Keep a close eye on your pup and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns. If you notice vomiting or diarrhea after eating sunflowers, you can offer them some bland food such as plain cooked white fish or chicken, with a little plain, cooked rice. But if the symptoms persist, contact your vet.

Step #4: Contact your Veterinarian

If your dog is showing any signs of obstruction after eating sunflowers, then you should take him to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible. Symptoms of obstruction include vomiting, diarrhea, tummy pain, constipation, and lethargy.

If you notice any signs of insecticide poisoning after eating a sunflower plant, then contact your vet straight away. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties, excessive drinking, drooling, tremors, lethargy, skin irritation, seizures, and collapse.

Will My Dog Be OK?

Small Dog Chewing on Yellow Flower Plant
It is most likely your canine companion will be A-OK if it consumes a sunflower.

If you’re worried about what might happen if your dog ate some sunflower plants in the garden, the good news is that he is likely to be absolutely fine! As sunflower plants are not poisonous, most dogs eat them without suffering any consequences. Mild tummy upsets such as vomiting or diarrhea usually clear up quickly without the need for treatment.

Complications associated with eating sunflowers are usually linked to insecticide poisoning if the plant has been sprayed. Insecticide poisoning is very dangerous for dogs and can be fatal. Obstructions caused by excessive ingestion of sunflower plants are rare but can be life-threatening if not treated quickly. You must speak to your veterinarian for advice if you notice any illness or worrying symptoms after sunflower consumption.

What About Sunflower Seeds?

Seeds From Yellow Flower Plant
Sunflower seeds are fine for canine consumption.

We, humans, love a sprinkling of sunflower seeds on our breakfast. Their health benefits for us are widely known. But can you share them with your furry friend? The simple answer is yes, you absolutely can. But there are a few things you need to consider.

Sunflower seeds are packed full of nutrition. The main health benefits coming from their omega 3 fatty acid content. Omega 3 fatty acids support healthy skin and hair and can be beneficial for dogs suffering from skin conditions. But it’s important to remember that if you are feeding your dog a balanced, commercially prepared diet, it will contain all the nutrients he needs to stay healthy. There shouldn’t be any need to provide supplements.

If you are thinking about introducing sunflower seeds to your pup’s diet, it’s best to speak to your veterinarian for advice. There is a range of supplements available that are specifically designed and formulated for dogs, such as omega 3 supplements, which may be safer and more suitable for your pet.

Preventing Sunflower Ingestion

Black Dog Panting Among Yellow Flowers
The best way to keep your pup from eating your sunflowers is to block off the area.

So, you’ve grown prize-winning, beautifully tall sunflowers, and your pup has decided to eat them! You’re not only going to be extremely frustrated, but you’re probably wondering why they did it! There’s not really a single simple reason for this, but dogs are attracted to sunflowers because of their sweet smell.

Eating sunflowers, or other plants, could also be a sign that Fido has become bored. When dogs don’t get enough exercise or attention, they will often turn to chewing on items in your home and garden. So, if you notice your dog is always tearing up the flower beds, it’s worth taking a look at his diet and exercise regimen. You may want to reevaluate the length of time you leave him at home alone. If you are concerned about your dog’s behavior, your veterinarian will be able to assist you.

Even though sunflowers are non-toxic and generally harmless to dogs, it’s still best not to encourage your pup to eat them. The best way to prevent Fido from getting to your much-loved plants is to keep the flower beds or parts of the garden fenced off. It can also be helpful to use some high-quality rewards or toys to call him away from the plants and distract him.

Frequently Asked Questions

Final Thoughts

Sunflowers are safe to grow in your garden if you have dogs as they are non-toxic. This means that if your dog has eaten a sunflower, he is most likely going to be just fine! You can even sprinkle a small number of sunflower seeds on his food to get the skin and coat benefits from the omega 3 fatty acids.

But remember that everything is good in moderation, and eating too many sunflower seeds or munching on too much sunflower plant material could be harmful. It’s best to speak to your veterinarian before making any changes to your pup’s diet and to take precautions to prevent him from getting his paws on your lovely sunflowers in the first place!

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