Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seeds?

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Poppy seeds are not considered dangerous or toxic. Ingesting a small amount should be fine, but a dozen poppy seeds may cause a toxicity issue.

As an experienced veterinary technician of over 10 years in Indianapolis, IN, I have been asked, “will my dog be ok if he ate my poppy seed cake?” Usually the answer is yes, but feeding them to your dog is still not recommended and it can still lead to potential stomach upset.

In this article I will go over information about poppy seeds and the safety recommendations if a dog has eaten some.

Are Poppy Seeds Poisonous To Dogs?

You will find mixed information online about whether or not poppy seeds are toxic to dogs. Some sites say “Yes, they’re toxic and terrible!” Others say “No, it’s totally fine and harmless!” But the truth is, it depends on a number of different factors. Variables such as your dog’s breed, weight, age, medical condition and how many poppy seeds they ingested will have a large impact on how they react.

In short, most of our dogs would be ok if they ate a poppy seed bagel or anything else with a small amount of them on it.

Causes Of Poppy Seed Poisoning In Dogs

It’s uncommon to see this type of toxicity emergency at the vet because the average person doesn’t just keep big bags of poppy seeds sitting around their house. According to veterinarians dogs would have to ingest a large amount of poppy seeds, usually several grams, before anyone would see symptoms of toxicity or poisoning.

Are Poppy Seeds Bad For Dogs?

The poppy plant itself contains alkaloids. These alkaloids, morphine and codeine, are what is used to produce medically beneficial but also highly addictive drugs like laudanum, opium and the street drug heroin.

Poppy seeds contain very few alkaloids, which is why you wouldn’t notice any kind of intoxicating effects after eating some on a bagel or muffin. These seeds also contain some trace minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, iron and zinc. You can even find antioxidants like oleic acid in poppy seeds.

So, as long as they are ingested in small amounts, there should be no harm done to your beloved canine.

What Happens If My Dog Eats Poppy Seeds? 

Well, whether your dog is a 7 lb chihuahua or an 80 lb labrador, your dog will probably be fine. The worst thing that may happen is some stomach upset and that’s really not just the poppy seed’s fault.

If your dog has eaten a large amount of poppy seeds, let’s say that for some reason you’re a chef who has a big bag of them for some bagels you’re making and your dog just helped himself to a mouthful, then that’s a problem. Opioid poisoning is certainly not something to joke about and you will want to call your vet right away.

What Do You Do If Your Dog Ate Poppy Seeds?

Calling your veterinarian should be the first thing that you do if your dog has eaten poppy seeds. In most cases, your pet will be fine, but if the doctor is concerned at all they will have you come in.

Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seed Plants?

You should not allow your dog to ingest a poppy seed plant (poppy plant). These are extremely beautiful but also extremely toxic to dogs. If your dog ingests any part of the plant like the leaves, stem, roots, petals or head then you should seek immediate veterinary attention. 

Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seed Heads?

Just like the poppy seed plants, the head of the poppy is also extremely toxic. They don’t have to ingest very much of the plant or head to show symptoms of toxicity.

Symptoms Of Poppy Poisoning In Dogs

Your dog may show one or more of the following symptoms when they have ingested too many poppy seeds.

Weakness and lethargy: they will seem very tired and struggle to get up

Pinpoint pupils: their pupils will be very small and they will probably be staring off into space

Trembling: shaking all over as if they are cold or frightened

Difficulty breathing: sometimes wheezing is noticed as well

Slow heart rate: their pulse will feel much slower than normal

Drunk staggering: stumbling or staggering like a drunk person is a classic sign of poisoning or toxicity

Causes Of Poppy Poisoning In Dogs

Because morphine and codeine are the two alkaloids that are found in poppy plants, an excess of these can be damaging to the central nervous system, leading to death. It is true that both of those substances are used medicinally, but too much is a detriment to their system.

What Is Poppy Poisoning?

Poppy poisoning is where a person or animal ingests a poppy flower or plant, resulting in excess amounts of morphine and codeine that leads to central nervous system toxicity and potentially death.

Treatment Of Poppy Poisoning In Dogs

In rare situations, a pet has ingested enough poppy seeds to require treatment or hospitalization. Most vets will probably start by making your dog vomit up what seeds are left in their stomach and if they are unsure if that was enough, they will administer activated charcoal to stop more of the opiates from entering their system.

In the case that a dog is actually experiencing serious respiratory issues, they may have to stay in the hospital in an oxygen cage to help with breathing and receive IV fluids to flush their system.

Recovery Of Poppy Poisoning In Dogs

Your dog’s recovery process will depend on how much of the poppy seed or plant they ingested and how quickly they received veterinary attention. If your dog only chewed on the plant leaves or at a small amount but you got them to the vet fast enough, they should recover pretty easily. But if your dog ate a large amount or just didn’t get to the vet at all, no matter how little it was, then their odds will be much lower and a guarded prognosis will be given.

Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seed Bread?

Yes and no, your dog can eat a little poppy seed bread without being at risk for poppy seed poisoning. However, your dog may still experience stomach upset just because it’s eaten some human food. Breads are high in carbs and sugar and should be limited in your dog’s diet.

Can Dogs Have Poppy Seed Dressing?

Your dog can eat poppy seed dressing without being in danger of a toxic reaction to the poppy seeds. However, salad dressings have a lot of sugar, fats and carbs. You also may not like what happens next when they have diarrhea or vomiting.

Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seed Muffins?

Sneaking one poppy seed muffin isn’t going to cause toxicity in your dog. On the other hand, if they get to a whole batch of these muffins, we may be in for a problem. Even if you’re lucky and there’s no symptoms of poppy seed toxicity, the amount of sugar and carbs in these muffins is certainly enough to cause a tummy ache.

Can Dogs Eat Almond Poppy Seed Muffins?

These muffins are still high in carbs and sugar, so I recommend not giving them to your dog. Eating just one shouldn’t be a big deal but if your dog gets ahold of several of these then they may be at risk for poppy seed poisoning.

This is especially important if your dog has any nut allergies.

Can Dogs Eat Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins?

Thankfully, lemons and anything lemon flavored is safe for dogs to eat, but the extra sugars and carbs as well as the poppy seeds could still cause some GI upset. They may be super eager and happy to eat some of these delicious muffins but it should be avoided anyway.

Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seed Pound Cake

It’s unlikely that there are even enough seeds in one poppy seed pound cake to cause any kind of toxicity, but it is probably that it would give your dog an upset stomach. No matter how much they beg for some yummy pound cake you should resist the urge to give it to your dog.

Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Poppy Seeds?

The answer is a little bit of yes and no. Small quantities, like the amount on a poppy seed bagel or muffin, is not enough to cause any kind of poppy seed poisoning or toxicity in dogs. However, ingesting an excessive amount or eating any part of the poppy flower or plant can have a detrimental effect on their central nervous system and potentially lead to poisoning and death.

If you are at all concerned about your dog ingesting poppy seeds, then please call your veterinarian right away. Addressing the situation as quickly as possible is the best way to ensure positive treatment results. 

For call to action

If you’re a fan of eating lemon poppy seed muffins or bagels with poppy seeds on top, you’ve probably wondered about the safety of feeding them to your dog. It’s a great question because there are many foods that shouldn’t be given to your pooch.

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