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22 March 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

Can Dogs Have Sunflower Oil and What Happens if They Do?

This household favourite can give our furry friends a fantastic health kick when used correctly.

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Dog in a sunflower field.

Sunflower oil has become a staple in the human food world. 

Thanks to its associations with low temperature stove top cooking, and its presence in some of our favourite processed foods, there isn't a kitchen amongst us that hasn't sported a bottle of sunflower oil at least once. 

While we may not have noticed before, sunflower oil can also be found in a lot of the food types we give to our furry companions. But, why? Can dogs have sunflower oil, and is it actually any good for them? 

We'll be exploring all the facts you need to know about incorporating sunflower oil into your dog's day-to-day. 

What is sunflower oil? 

Sunflower oil, also known by the botanical name Helianthus annuus, is a plant-based carrier oil that is typically pale yellow in colour with a mild taste and aroma. 

Pressed from the seeds of the sunflower, the oil is typically produced in warmer regions such as Spain, France, and Italy, and can be harvested from up to 2000 seeds per flower.


Is sunflower oil good for dogs? 

Though it might seem unusual, sunflower oil is one of a few plant-based carrier oils that is completely non-toxic to dogs, and can actually form a very essential part of their wellbeing. 

Sunflower oil is filled with dietary fats that are great for your pooch's health, and can provide them with energy, boost their immunity, and even improve the look of the skin and coat over time. 

Coconut oil is known to achieve a similar effect to sunflower oil, and is often used topically as a way to protect against viruses, irritated skin, and unpleasant odours. Learn more about the benefits of coconut oil for dogs.

As with any plant-based oil, though, it's always best practice to consult with your vet before using either one of these natural remedies on your dog.  

Can dogs eat sunflower oil? 

Sunflower oil is safe for your dog to consume as long as certain precautions are taken. Since sunflower oil is so naturally high in omega 6, too much of it could lead to inflammation and discomfort in your dog, as well as possible obesity.

To avoid this, it's recommended to only feed your dog sunflower oil in moderation, and to combine it with omega 3 fatty acids like fish oil, flaxseed oil, or cold-pressed olive oil to maintain a balanced diet. 

Some people opt for feeding their dogs certain fish in sunflower oil as a way to target both fats, however this isn't always as effective as it may seem. 

Is sardines in sunflower oil good for dogs?

Sardines in sunflower oil can be fed to your dog, but only very small amounts are recommended. 

This is because the oil can double the amount of fat present in the fish, leading to unhealthy weight gain if too much is consumed on a frequent basis. 

Sardines are also a very salty fish, so minimal intake is best to avoid your dog's salt levels from rising too high. 

Is tuna in sunflower oil good for dogs?

As far as fish types go, tuna isn't the most effective way to get sunflower oil into your pooch's diet. 

This is because most of the oil has to be drained off in order to avoid the snack being too high in fat, and even then, only a small amount can be given to your dog at any one time. 

On top of this, a sufficient omega 3 supplement will still have to be used in order to avoid imbalances in your dog's nutrition, so it really isn't worth the extra effort. 

Is mackerel in sunflower oil good for dogs?

While it is certainly a strong source of omega 3, just as with sardines, sunflower oil can heavily boost the amount of fat found in mackerel. 

This means that while a little bit of mackerel can be okay in moderation, too much is not recommended as it can very easily lead to obesity in your furry friend. 

The best way to incorporate omega 3 alongside sunflower oil is to use supplements or other plant-based oils that are naturally high in this fatty acid. 

Dog in sunflower field.

What are the benefits of sunflower oil for dogs? 

When given to your dog in the correct and healthy way, sunflower oil can produce numerous benefits for their safety and wellbeing. Sunflower oil can:

  1. Improve heart health: Sunflower oil can improve your dog's cardiovascular system by reducing the amount of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol in their bloodstream, and boosting the amount of HDL, or "good" cholesterol instead. 
  2. Boost immune function: Sunflower oil is great for reducing inflammation levels in your dog. As many immune issues are caused as a result of inflammation, including sunflower oil in your pet's diet could improve their overall immune functions over time. 
  3. Enhance coat and skin health: Rich in antioxidants, sunflower oil can shine brightly when applied topically to your dog's skin and coat. It contains vitamin E, which can help regulate hair growth and keep skin healthy, as well as vitamin A, which is known for preventing dry skin and promoting the growth of new skin cells. The vitamin C levels found in the oil could also help in healing minor wounds.

Are there any risks to using sunflower oil for dogs? 

If you choose to apply sunflower oil on a solely topical basis, the risks involved tend to be pretty minimal. 

Sunflower oil is very naturally lightweight and non-greasy, meaning it can easily absorb into your dog's skin and won't clog their pores in the process. 

That being said, it's always best to check with your vet before using any sunflower oil on your dog's skin or coat. 

Ingestion of sunflower oil comes with slightly greater precautions due to the high levels of omega 6 found in the oil. To avoid this, always counter-balance any sunflower oil in your dog's diet with a rich source of omega 3. 

Dog illustration.

If you do decide to incorporate sunflower oil into your dog's routine, always double check the amount you're giving them and how often you're using it with a veterinary professional. 

While sunflower oil is generally mild, it's always better to be safe when it comes to the health and wellness of our furry friends. 

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