Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seeds? – Are They Safe for Dogs?

Did you just come home to find your dog chomping down on a big loaf of poppy seed bread that they decided to liberate from your pantry? Should you be worried and call your vet right away or leave your dog to sleep off their carbohydrate overload? Do you even need to be concerned about the presence of poppy seeds within the bread?

While many of us know that some foodstuffs like garlic are definitely not good for dogs, others are a little trickier to figure out if they’re safe or not.

The poppy seed falls into that second category, so you may not be sure if it’s necessary to call your vet if you found your precious pupper eating something containing poppy seeds.

In this article, we’ll take a look at whether poppy seeds are safe for your dog to eat in large quantities, won’t do any damage in smaller amounts, or if they should be avoided altogether.

Most of the evidence suggests that a small amount of poppy seeds is fine on occasion. While this might be true, poppy seeds can be dangerous even in small quantities. So, we suggest that this is a food that’s left out of your pup’s diet.

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Fun Facts About Poppy Seeds

Edible poppy seeds are harvested from the opium poppy, which has the Latin name Papaver somniferum L.

Poppy seeds have been collected as food for thousands of years. The seeds can be eaten whole, sprinkled onto baked goods, and ground into poppy seed meal. They can also be pressed into an oil.

Poppy seeds are banned in Singapore, Taiwan, and China because they contain trace amounts of opiates.

The Czech Republic is the world’s largest producer of poppy seeds, with just under 29,000 tons being harvested in 2016. Turkey and Spain and the next largest producers.

Poppy seeds are smaller than one millimeter in length. To make one gram in weight, you’ll need roughly 3,300 seeds!

Why Are Poppy Seeds Bad for Dogs?

Poppies contain two alkaloids: codeine and morphine. While these are used in medical pain relief applications, ingesting an excessive amount can cause damage to your dog’s central nervous system.

Poppy seeds themselves contain minimal amounts of both these alkaloids, but we would still advise caution when it comes to allowing your dog access to any foods containing poppy seeds.

Different dog breeds can have sensitivities to particular types of food, and your dog may be affected by a quantity of poppy seeds that would not affect a dog of a different size or breed.

Poppy Seeds
Image Credit: keith ellwood, Flickr

What if My Dog Eats a Small Amount of Poppy Seeds by Accident?

Even though poppy seeds contain only trace amounts of opiates, this may still be enough to affect certain dogs.

If your dog ate a piece of bread baked with poppy seeds or a bagel sprinkled with seeds, then they’re probably unlikely to suffer any ill effects. This, of course, is going to depend on their size and sensitivities.

We would recommend keeping a close eye on them over the following 24-48 hours and contacting your veterinarian immediately if you have any concerns.

What if My Dog Eats a Large Amount of Poppy Seeds by Accident?

What if you keep a Ziploc bag of poppy seeds at home for baking, and your dog has broken into your pantry and eaten the lot?

In this scenario, you would be right to be concerned about your dog’s health. While they have a good chance of feeling absolutely fine the next day, we would still urge caution.

We would definitely suggest calling your vet and explaining the situation to them. Keep a close eye on your dog and watch out for any symptoms.

Symptoms of Poppy Toxicity

Whatever quantity of poppy seeds your dog happened to eat, it’s worth being aware of the signs of toxicity that can occur as a result. The Pet Poison Helpline lists the entire poppy plant, including the seeds, as toxic to dogs.

As we mentioned before, different sizes and breeds of dogs can react to toxins in different ways. So, your dog may have eaten a small amount but could have more of a reaction than you might expect.

Characteristics
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased or decreased heartrate
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Excessive whining
  • More excitable or more sedate than usual

The symptoms can vary, so some dogs will become euphoric and excited, while others become sedate and almost catatonic.

sick dog
Credit: Javier Brosch, Shutterstock

A Note on The Poppy Plant

While we’re primarily looking at whether it’s safe for your dogs to eat poppy seeds, it’s also worth mentioning the poppy plant itself.

If your dog eats poppy plants, then you’ll need to call your veterinarian immediately to ask for advice. What your vet decides to do will be based on how many plants your dog ate, so it’s useful to try and estimate this if you can.

Veterinarians have a range of possible treatments for poppy toxicity. These include fluid therapy, inducing vomiting, intubation, and administering activated charcoal.

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Wrapping It Up

We would recommend avoiding ever intentionally feeding your dog any food with poppy seeds. While some dogs will be able to tolerate the occasional poppy seed bagel with no ill effects, this sort of food doesn’t do your dog any good whatsoever.

If you want to treat your dog, it’s better to select a high-quality chew designed specifically for dogs!

We all know that accidents happen, and sometimes dogs are good at locating and eating foods that they aren’t supposed to. Perhaps your dog has helped themselves to something that does contain poppy seeds. We would always suggest calling your veterinarian at this point.

They will be able to advise which specific symptoms to look out for, or tell you if they want you to bring your dog in for observation.

While poppy seeds might seem like a relatively harmless food, we’re sure you’ll agree that this is one item that dogs should avoid.


Featured Image: Skitterphoto, Pixabay