Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seeds?

Written By: Gemma Johnstone | Last Updated: August 7, 2020

A wooden bowl and a spoon with poppy seeds

Poppy seeds may be packed with vitamins and minerals, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe for dogs to eat. Read on to find out why you shouldn’t let your pup eat poppy seeds.

Did you know there are over 70 types of poppy? The most iconic is the common red poppy (also known as the corn poppy or Papaver rhoeas), which symbolises the sacrifice of war veterans. 

These are different to the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum), which contains higher quantities of opiates. The seeds from this poppy are commonly found on bagels, muffins, and burger buns, and they’re rich in vitamins and minerals.  

While the seeds don’t naturally contain high quantities of opiates, they are often contaminated in the harvesting process. Even small quantities of opiates can cause serious symptoms in dogs, so you should never feed them poppy seeds.

Are Poppy Seeds Bad or Poisonous for Dogs?

The short answer is that poppy seeds are toxic to dogs, and eating them can lead to a variety of dangerous symptoms. If your dog has eaten poppy seeds, you should contact a vet immediately.

Edible poppy seeds often come from the opium poppy, which contains the highest concentration of opiates. Although poppy seeds contain low levels of opiates compared to other parts of the plant, studies show they can still be problematic. This is due to the potential for contamination during the harvesting process.

A study showed between 0.5 and 10 micrograms of morphine can be found in each gram of edible poppy seeds. As even trace amounts of opioids can be dangerous to dogs, you should never feed your dog anything containing poppy seeds.   

It’s not just the seeds of opium poppies that are unsafe though. All poppy species are toxic to dogs, as they contain narcotic alkaloids, such as morphine. These can affect the dog’s central nervous system and cause severe symptoms. There have been reported cases, for example, of dogs suffering from suspected opium poisoning after having contact with poppy flowers in the garden.

While it’s true that opioids are often used for pain relief in dogs, this is only safe when given in precise doses by a qualified vet. Ingesting too much can lead to feelings of euphoria, depression, and other serious physical and psychological issues.

If you notice any worrying signs, or your dog has consumed poppy seeds, make sure you contact your vet immediately for advice.

What Are The Symptoms of Poppy Seed Poisoning?

The signs of opioid poisoning symptoms vary depending on the quantity eaten, the poppy plant species, and the size, age, and breed of your dog. A small dog, for example, is likely to be at greater risk from eating small quantities of poppy seeds – although any dog can be affected.

The timescales can vary too. Some dogs may only show symptoms for a short period and fully recover within 24 hours, while others can exhibit symptoms for several weeks.

You should always contact a vet immediately if your dog is showing any symptoms of poppy poisoning. Failure to seek treatment can prolong discomfort, and the symptoms can progress. In extreme cases, a coma or death can occur, commonly due to respiratory arrest.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Uncoordinated gait/appearing ‘drunk’
  • Lethargy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Respiratory rate can slow dramatically (may also suffer from breathing difficulties)
  • Seizures
  • Depression
  • Decreased or lack of appetite
  • Periods of zoning out

Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seed Muffins?

Any foods that contain poppy seeds carry a risk. This includes bread, pastries, cakes and salads.

Poppy seeds are also often added to muffins for additional texture and flavorings, so make sure your dog doesn’t eat them.

Even without poppy seeds, your dog shouldn’t eat muffins, as they are high in sugar. Sugary foods can lead to stomach upsets, dental cavities, and an increased chance of obesity and associated health problems.

Some muffins are made without sugar. In these instances, xylitol, a common artificial sweetener, is added. Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs, and ingestion can result in fatalities, even when consumed in very small quantities.

Summary

Poppies are toxic to dogs as they contain narcotic substances called opioids. The toxicity varies depending on the type of poppy.  One of the most potent types is the opium poppy, and this is the variety that edible poppy seeds come from.

While the seeds don’t contain a lot of opioids, they’re often contaminated during the harvesting process. For this reason, you should avoid feeding your dog anything containing poppy seeds.

Opioid symptoms in dogs can vary greatly. But it only takes a small quantity for dogs to display symptoms ranging from temporary disorientation, to comas and death.

If you notice any of these symptoms, or your dog has managed to eat poppy seeds, don’t delay in contacting your vet.

About the Author

Gemma is a freelance writer and official dog nut. With 15 years of experience in the pet industry, she is a passionate animal welfare advocate. She has worked for the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, ran her own specialist dog shop for ten years, has volunteered for her local rescue shelter, and is studying towards completing an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour. Gemma is currently travelling around Europe with her wonderful rescue dog, Annie.