What Seeds Can Dogs Eat? 6 That Are on the Table

The good, the bad, and the dangerous

An owner feeding their dog seeds on grass
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We humans love adding nutrient-rich seeds to our diets. I personally add seeds to just about everything. Whether it's chia pudding, oatmeal with flaxseed or hemp seed-batter pancakes, these tiny morsels pack a big punch. But what about for our pets? Could I, for instance, add some pumpkin seeds to my dog Oakley's food bowl? I've read they can help with constipation—sorry for airing your dirty laundry, Oak—so I've considered sprinkling some into her food. But she has such a sensitive stomach, I'm not sure seeds would be safe or if dogs even reap the myriad health benefits of seeds that we do. Can dogs eat seeds even? So many questions (and seeds!), so little time. So, I went to the experts, veterinarians, to learn which seeds I could potentially add to Oakley's diet and which ones to avoid at all costs. 

Meet the Experts

Dr. Gary Richter, MS, DVM, is the founder of Ultimate Pet Nutrition and author of several best-selling books including Longevity for Dogs, Longevity for Cats, and The Ultimate Pet Health Guide. Dr. Richter was also named America’s Favorite Veterinarian by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation. 

Dr. Amy Attas, an award-winning veterinarian and author of Pets and the City: True Tales of a Manhattan House Call Veterinarian.  She is the founder of City Pets, a veterinary medical house call practice for dogs and cats living, working or visiting Manhattan. 

Can Dogs Eat Seeds? 

Certain seeds can be added to a dog’s already-balanced diet in moderation. (Just like dogs can eat some nuts, but not all nuts—stay away from macadamias, warns Dr. Richter). In fact, according to Dr. Attas, healthy seeds are nutrient-dense but relatively low in calories, which makes them nifty diet supplements that can make a dog feel sated while offering nutritional benefits when on a weight reduction diet. Said seed nutrients, shares Dr. Richter, include healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, and E vitamins. And of course, different seeds offer different benefits and/or dangers: “Fiber-rich seeds (pumpkin) will aid in digestion and can help promote regular bowel movements in dogs with constipation,” Dr. Attas explains. She continues: “High omega-3 fatty acid seeds (flaxseeds) have anti-inflammatory properties and may improve a dog’s skin and coat.” But before adding any seeds to your dog’s diet, make sure you prepare and introduce them correctly. 

A bowl of shelled pumpkin seeds.
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What Seeds Can Dogs Eat?

1. Pumpkin Seeds

Like Dr. Attas mentioned, pumpkin seeds are fiber-rich and can help promote digestion and regular bowel movements. But the seeds need to be prepared correctly for your dog—no seasoning or oils and removed from the shell. And keep the serving small—as in, a few seeds—since pumpkin seeds are high in fat. (Psst: You may have read that pumpkin seeds are natural dewormers, but there is no evidence to prove this.) 

A bowl of flaxseed on white
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2. Flaxseed

High in omega-3 fatty acid, flaxseeds, as mentioned above, have anti-inflammatory properties and may improve a dog’s skin and coat. They are also helpful for joint pain and stiffness. That said, keep the portions very small (under a teaspoon) and occasional as flax contains trace amounts of cyanide.   

A bowl of sunflower seeds.
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3. Sunflower Seeds

On occasion and in small servings (catching a theme here?), plain, shelled sunflower seeds can be a healthy addition to your dog’s diet. Do not give your dog the salt-packed unshelled snacks you devour at the baseball game as they could be dangerous to your pup’s gastrointestinal system. Also, per the American Kennel Club, if your dog is prone to pancreatitis or your pet has a sensitive stomach, it’s best to avoid sunflower seeds altogether, since the high-fat content can bring on vomiting, lethargy, decreased appetite, and other digestive upsets. 

A bowl of sesame seeds.
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4. Sesame Seeds

Their calcium and magnesium content promote healthy bones and teeth. The fiber eases constipation; and the zinc aids in a glossy coat. Sesame seeds are nutrient-rich, but should, like the other seeds on this list, be given in small amounts and only on occasion.  

A bowl of hemp seed and wooden serving spoon
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5. Hemp Seeds

Technically a nut, hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts) are replete with omega-6 fatty acids, protein and minerals, offering a ton of benefits for dogs, like cancer prevention and reduced joint pain. In fact, hemp seed is a “complete protein” source, meaning all amino acids are present. And worry not—the amount of psychoactive THC compound is too minuscule to affect your dog.  

A bowl of chia seeds with a spoon
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6. Chia Seeds

Rich in soluble fiber, chia seeds may curb appetite and regulate blood sugar levels. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein. But don’t serve these straight up–make sure they’ve been thoroughly soaked (overnight) so they don’t swell inside your dog as they can absorb ten times their weight in liquid. Preventive Vet writes that dogs can handle a quarter teaspoon of chia gel (soaked seeds) per 10 pounds daily. 

An apple with apple seeds on white background
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What Seeds Can Dogs NOT Eat?

1. Any Fruit Seeds 

“There are a number of seeds that should never be fed to dogs,” says Dr. Attas. These include fruit seeds like apple seeds, which contain cyanide and can be toxic if eaten in large quantities. She elaborates: “Other fruits contain their seeds inside of the pit.  Examples of fruits that contain toxic seeds inside their pits are cherries, peaches and apricots that all contain cyanide. The pits themselves are quite dangerous and they often cause gastro-intestinal foreign bodies which are unable to pass through and need to be surgically removed. Avocado seeds and pits contain percin which is toxic to dogs.” 

2. Anything Salted or In the Shell 

Your salty, delicious bag o’ sunflower seeds? Not for Fido. The salt content is dangerously high and the shells are choking hazards.  

3. Too Much of Any Seed 

Seeds certainly have their nutritional benefits, but overserving each variety can lead to their own issues like bloating or sickness.  

What to Consider Before Feeding Seeds to Your Dog 

  • Your Dog’s Diet: If you’re asking “what seeds can dogs eat?” hopefully you’re already feeding your pup a well-balanced diet. Not sure? Talk to your vet about introducing new food elements before adding toppers such as seeds or nuts. 
  • Choking Hazards: New food shapes and textures can be dangerous for any dog, but if your dog has a history of choking, consider grounding seeds. 
  • How to Introduce Seeds: “It is possible for a dog to be allergic to a particular type of seed, so observe for any gastro-intestinal problems, itching or swelling and redness of the face. If tolerated well, seeds should always be given in moderation,” instructs Dr. Attas. 
  • Your Dog’s Poop: “If you are seeing the seeds in the dog’s bowel movement, it is unlikely that they have been properly digested and should be ground for better digestibility and absorption of nutrients,” says Dr. Attas. 


Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...