Poppy seeds may be packed with vitamins and minerals, but that doesn’t mean they’re safe for dogs to eat. Read on to discover why you shouldn’t let your dog eat poppy seeds.
Can dogs eat poppy seeds? The short answer is no, as these seeds may contain potentially dangerous substances.
There are many types of poppy, but the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) contains higher concentrations of opiates than other varieties. The seeds from this poppy are commonly found on bagels, muffins, and burger buns, as they are rich in vitamins and minerals.
Even small quantities of opiates can cause severe symptoms in dogs, so you should never feed your pet 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 various symptoms. If your dog has eaten poppy seeds, 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 like 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 contacting 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.
Poppy Seeds: A Vet’s Opinion
“There have been no safety studies on feeding our dog’s poppy seeds and there is no established safe dose as far as I’m aware,” says veterinary surgeon Dr Linda Simon. “For this reason, we should err on the side of caution and avoid feeding them to dogs.”
“In practice, poppy seed poisoning is incredibly rare and not something I’ve seen in 10 years of practice. This is because owners do not tend to feed poppy seeds and, when they are consumed by dogs, they usually don’t eat many.”
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 your dog’s size, age, and breed. 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 briefly 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. A coma or death can occur in extreme cases, commonly due to respiratory arrest.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Pinpoint pupils
- Uncoordinated gait/appearing ‘drunk’
- Respiratory rate can slow dramatically (may also suffer from breathing difficulties)
- 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 disease, 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.
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 harvesting. 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. For more information about seeds and dogs, read our guide to can dogs eat sesame seeds.