Can your dog eat poppy seeds? A dog is an omnivore (source). They gain nutrition from meat, vegetables and minerals.
This leads to a variety of mixes available and commercially sold. Each brand offers its formula and assortment of nutritional benefits.
It can be daunting to know exactly what to feed your dog. There are articles and forums filled with recommendations and warnings, often with a brand or mix receiving both.
That being said, there are ways in which to tell what foods should be avoided. The most natural diet is the one a dog would receive in the wild. This is considered the closest to healthy (source).
It is best to avoid foods that are considered unhealthy for humans, fast food, high calories, and high carbohydrates.
Then there are less obvious foods to avoid, healthy foods such as seeds. Now, seeds are known for their high fat and protein with a low carbohydrate. These may be good for us but that doesn’t mean it’s good for a dog.
The addition of new foods, even in the short term, can lead to effects on mood, skin and hair quality as well as digestive problems.
Certain foods can have a unique effect such as granola which has traces of hemp and poppy seeds which has traces of opium and alkaloids (Source).
These foods, while not problematic to humans they can affect a dog. Sometimes this is due to digestive differences. Other times it’s because the dog is often more than half our size and unable to handle so much unnatural food.
A little about poppy seeds
The seed comes from the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). They are small and dark and are similar in appearance to a kidney (Source).
The poppy is legally grown in central Europe and South Asia. The seed acts as an ingredient for many foods. It is ground down into a powdered substance known as meal.
Poppies are used to create the drug opium. This is produced by “milking” latex from the unripened seed pods. The process doesn’t involve the seed itself, although all parts of the plant contain the opium alkaloids such as morphine and codeine.
Eating foods with poppy seeds can reveal a false positive in a drug test, however, the results will not be the same as someone who uses opiates.
Feeding poppy seeds to dogs
There appears to be no evidence to suggest toxicity from dogs ingesting poppy seeds.
That being said, ready mix foods that are available do not contain seeds. This would suggest that the seeds are given separately, possibly as a treat from an owner.
Now, there’s a lot of information out there which states the problems of sharing our food with pets (Source).
Bones may lead to choking or other respiratory problems. High-calorie foods such as carbohydrates may cause skin complaints, damage to teeth, and problems with digestion.
Sources provide evidence that dogs should be fed on a complete feed mix which is hand-selected by professionals.
Sharing food can be bad for health. Dogs are omnivorous like us, but that doesn’t mean they should be going halves on a salmon and poppy seed bagel.
The effect of poppy seeds on dogs
There is a lot of disputed information online. That being said, all agree that high consumption of poppy seeds can lead to lethargy and a loss of appetite (Source).
While non-toxic, the food isn’t a natural component in the balanced diet of a dog. Most likely, the seeds will come as part of a carbohydrate meal, such as bread.
There is also the chance the dog could ingest a pot of seeds which as mentioned will lead to digestive and energy changes.
Likely, the major change you would see to your dog would be an agitation brought on by a stressed bowel.
You may hear sounds of internal struggle, loud belches and bubbles as the dog’s digestive tract attempts to deal with unusual foodstuff.
Dogs in these moments may find it difficult to sit still. They may whimper and show signs of needing to relieve themselves.
Once they do, you may find that their stool is soft or runny. This isn’t a cause for alarm, just ensure that the dog is getting adequate water for rehydration.
In persistent cases, such as a week of diarrhoea, veterinary assistance should be sought out.
Poppy seeds are a good example of foods that shouldn’t be eaten. They may not be considered toxic like the theobromine found in chocolate, but they are unnatural and may lead to issues of mood and gut.
In large quantities, poppy seeds may cause complications, so it wise to keep your year’s supply of seed tubs out of reach.
Your dog will likely be ok if it eats a handful of poppy seeds. That being said, in doing so you may increase the chances of bad digestion which in turn may lead to an un-welcomed mess.
When considering feeding your dog an item of food, consider this, is it naturally occurring in its standard mix or meal?
It can be tempting to share food with our dogs, but It is best to ask if it’s in their best interest.
A dog does not understand their dietary needs nor the problems that come through abusing it.
Dogs will try almost anything, but that doesn’t mean they should. We the owners have a responsibility to ensure that our dog is healthy in mind and body.
When in doubt, reach out to your local veterinary service, or stick to complete mixes provided by professional businesses.
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