Certainly! It’s a good way to include sunflower seeds in their diet. Rather than grinding them up with every meal, you can make sunflower butter at home to put in dog toys like kongs. They are easy to make and far healthier than your regular peanut butter. However, like any other human foods we wish to give to our pets, there are things we must keep an eye on. Here are a few sunflower butter facts you need to know and how to safely give them.
Benefits of Sunflower Seeds
Does your dog love peanut butter? If he does, he’ll love sunflower butter even more. Let’s discuss first what sunflower seeds are and what they bring to the table for our dogs.
Sunflower seeds are extracted from you guessed it, sunflowers. They are harvested from the flower head and can contain up to 2,000 seeds in one. That’s a lot of seeds! They are rich in vitamins and minerals and are packed with antioxidants that can help prevent a lot of chronic diseases.
Research also reveals that sunflower seeds can help improve the skin and coat of dogs. The essential fatty acids found in the seeds can help maintain a glossy coat and skin for your dog. Not only that, but sunflower seeds are said to prevent dry skin and hot spots as well. They do not only prove that they are a great snack during the summers but can help prevent hot spots during the sunny season too. Very timely if you ask me!
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient for dogs. It improves cell function, fat metabolism, and protects your pet from harmful oxygen-free radicals. The best part? Just 1 oz. of sunflower seeds can provide your dog with the daily requirement he needs for Vitamin E.
Sunflower seeds can also act as a calming aid for dogs. If you’re not a fan of chemically formulated ones, sunflower seeds may be the one you are looking for. They are naturally packed with magnesium and B vitamins that help relieve fatigue, stress, and depression in dogs.
Sunflower seeds are also rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid, that increases the serotonin level in dogs. Serotonin can help improve your dog’s overall mood that can help lessen stress and reduces aggression. (Disclaimer: Aggression should be treated with professional dog trainers. Dog harnesses perfect for training are available.)
Don’ts of sunflower seeds in dogs
If you’re planning to make your own sunflower seed butter, these are the things you must know. The sunflower seeds must be peeled and no added salt. Sodium toxicosis can happen when there are high levels of sodium in your dog’s diet. Furthermore, unshelled sunflower seeds can also pose a choking hazard. Dogs cannot digest the seed shells thus it causes an upset stomach. Or worse, a blockage that can be life-threatening for some.
Sunflower seeds should also be given in moderation. Sunflower seeds are high in fats which can make it difficult for dogs to digest. Consuming too many seeds can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Also, beware of any allergies your dog may have. Feeding him around 3-5 seeds per snack should suffice to observe if he shows any allergic reactions.
Sunflower Butter vs. Peanut Butter
I think now that we’ve covered the healthy properties of sunflower seeds, we can see why sunflower seed butter is the healthier choice. But wait, that’s not all. Experts have warned that certain types of peanut butter can be dangerous for dogs. Specifically, peanut butter with Xylitol. Xylitol is an ingredient found in various commercial peanut butter sold in the market. It causes a rapid release of insulin in dogs that could quickly turn into hypoglycemia. The effects of this artificial sweetener can occur as early as 10-60 minutes after it is consumed. It can be fatal if left untreated.
So to all dog parents out there reading this, always check the ingredient labels of your products. This advice does not only apply to peanut butter but to sunflower butter as well (if you are buying from grocery stores). Make sure it has no ‘Xylitol’ on the list. Checking the label is good practice when it comes to all food products in your home.
Another dangerous side of peanut butter is the common ubiquitous mold called Aspergillus found in peanuts. It’s a naturally occurring aflatoxin that decays vegetation, hay, and grains. It can trigger inflammation, allergies, and immune dysfunction in dogs. Although the USDA monitors the amount of aflatoxin in food, it’s better to be safe in this case.
On the bright side, sunflower butter is a great alternative for you or your dog if you have nut allergies. He might not be able to tell the difference between his regular peanut butter and sunflower butter, but you can. You can rest well knowing that his new favorite is far more nutritious.
How much sunflower butter should I give to my dogs?
The rule of thumb is that treats should only be 10% of his daily calorie intake and should not be made a substitute for his regular dog food. Pawesome.net suggests this formula to calculate your pet’s daily quality requirement:
Daily calorie requirement = 30 x the weight of your dog (in kilos) + 70
Sunflower seeds are already high in calories. But sunflower seed butter contains even higher calories and fats than sunflower seeds alone. You must see to it that the amounts that you give are in an even lesser quantity. A cup of sunflower seeds has 269 calories. And it is only recommended that small dogs should not be given more than 10-20 seeds and not more than 20-40 seeds for
large dogs in a week. It’s safe to assume that sunflower butter should be given less than this amount.
Any more than this may lead to weight gain and other health issues.
Sunflower seed butter is a healthy alternative to your regular peanut butter. It’s packed with essential vitamins and minerals that can greatly benefit your dog’s health. Just remember that the seeds should be unsalted, without artificial flavoring, and peeled before you can make it into butter. When given in small amounts, sunflower butter is a delicious, healthy snack for your dog.
If you liked this, don’t forget to share this article with your friends who you think might want to try sunflower butter for their furry friend as well.