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Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Oil? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Written by: Brooke Bundy

Last Updated on April 15, 2024 by Dogster Team

Can Dogs Eat_sunflower oil

Can Dogs Eat Sunflower Oil? Vet Reviewed Facts & FAQ


Dr. Lauren Demos  Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Sunflower oil sounds about as natural as it gets. Whole foods have taken root in the dog food market as obesity rates are on the rise and pet parents become more knowledgeable about how to care for their fur babies. Natural supplements such as fish oil are often recommended to switch dogs out of inflammatory mode and help them live healthier and longer lives.

At first, it seems like sunflower oil also fills these requirements, promising healthy fats and providing a better alternative to blatantly unhealthy cooking oils such as palm oil. However, your dog’s diet already contains as much of the particular type of fats found in sunflower oil as they need—and maybe even more. Although sunflower oil isn’t toxic to dogs, let’s take a look at why it isn’t the healthiest choice for your dog, and see what’s better instead.

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What Is Sunflower Oil?

Sunflower is a popular cooking oil. It may be found in almost everything from crackers to fried food. It’s typically cheaper than olive oil and is definitely a healthier choice than popular frying oils such as partially hydrogenated oils .

There are four types of sunflower oil in the United States. High linoleic sunflower oil has the highest ratio of monounsaturated versus polyunsaturated fats. While fat gets a bad rap, every dog and human needs some fat in order to survive. Monounsaturated fats are found in avocados, peanuts, and sunflower oil, and are generally more helpful than polyunsaturated fats, although canines need both. In this way, high oleic sunflower oil is better than other types of sunflower oils that have more polyunsaturated than unsaturated fats.

Health Benefits and Risks

dog waiting for the owner to give the supplement
Image Credit: Billion Photos, Shutterstock

Another piece of the puzzle to consider is Omega 3 fatty acids versus Omega 6 fatty acids. While dogs need both of these essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, everything is only beneficial in moderation. As it turns out your dog’s food—and the Western diet—probably has as many Omega 6s as is necessary and maybe even more. Your dog is probably lacking in Omega 3s, which are found in sunflower oil but not in as rich of a supply as healthier foods like fish.

Sunflower oil is also a source of vitamin E. However, again, fish oil is a more efficient choice of this essential nutrient.

Since all types of sunflower oil contain fats, you should limit foods with this oil in order to prevent pet obesity. If you feel like your dog needs more healthy fats, talk to your veterinarian about a fish oil supplement instead of feeding them sunflower oil. If you’re simply wondering if your dog can snack on a chip that has sunflower oil as an ingredient, go ahead and let them have a nibble (as long as it doesn’t contain any ingredients that are harmful to dogs, of course).

What to Use Instead of Sunflower Oil

Let’s be clear that sunflower oil isn’t toxic to your dog. However, it’s not the healthiest choice to consume on a daily basis for you or your canine.

Olive oil is probably the best cooking oil to use. It has a higher ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s than sunflower oil. Some pet parents even drizzle a little over their dog’s food to improve the taste. However, olive oil obviously is full of fat, even if it’s the healthy kind. You might not want to add olive oil to your pet’s food if they already struggle with obesity.

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Sunflower oil isn’t inherently harmful for dogs, but it isn’t the healthiest choice. If your dog suffers from a skin or joint condition, talk to your vet about fish oil supplements to provide them with a beneficial ratio of omega 3s to omega 6s. Unfortunately, sunflower oil contains too many omega 6s proportionally to be considered a healthy food. However, it’s a better choice than partially hydrogenated oils and does contain some Vitamin E.

You shouldn’t be afraid to feed your dog a little bit of food cooked with sunflower oil, as long as the dish doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients. If you’re trying to figure out which cooking oils to add to your grocery list, use high linoleic sunflower oil if you want to keep using sunflower oil at all, or opt for olive oil instead.

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