Poppy Seeds from bottle

The poppy plant has been used as a traditional remedy for centuries and is found in many different baking goods and dishes. The plant’s seeds and oil can offer a variety of health benefits, including pain relief, protection from cardiovascular disease, and improved fertility. So, if you’ve taken a liking to baking with poppy seeds, you may garner some great side effects.

If you share your home with dogs, however, you might wish to approach your love of poppy seeds a little more carefully. Every part of the poppy plant, including the seeds, flowers, and foliage, can be toxic to dogs.

Keep reading to learn more!

What Causes Poppy Seed Poisoning?

If you have ever watched The Wizard of Oz, you may remember the scene where Dorothy and her friends walk through a field of poppies on their way to the Emerald City. As they’re making their way through the flowers, the gang is lulled to sleep. The reason for their sudden sleepiness is the poppy flower.

Every part of the poppy contains morphine and codeine. If humans eat poppy-laden food, they can actually test positive on a drug test. Studies show between 0.5 and 10 micrograms of morphine in every gram of poppy seeds. A single dose of morphine from your doctor would contain around 5,000 to 30,000 micrograms, so eating a slice of poppy seed loaf won’t cause a drug-induced high in humans, but it is the morphine in the seeds that can cause poppy seed poisoning.

Morphine can seriously affect your dog’s nervous system. Since the seeds also contain alkaloids, your pup’s central nervous system and brain function can also be affected. The alkaloids in poppies will differ between each species of the plant, but some can cause extreme sedation and others an excited or euphoric state.

What Are the Symptoms of Poppy Seed Poisoning in Dogs?

If you have poppies in your yard, recently took a walk in a field of poppies, or baked a loaf of delicious poppy seed bread, you need to know what the symptoms of poppy seed poisoning are.

Most vets seem to agree that there shouldn’t be enough poppy seeds in things like bagels or bread to cause toxicity. If your pooch has gotten into your poppy seed-laden baking, you may notice gastrointestinal upset at the most.

While your dog would need to eat a lot of seeds (e.g., your entire bag of poppy seeds for baking) to experience the most severe side effects of poppy seed poisoning, if just enough of the seeds are ingested, you may notice some of the following symptoms

  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Crying
  • Energy rush
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Trembling
  • Sedation
  • Respiratory depression
  • Slow heart rate
  • Limited coordination
sick dog on bed
Image courtesy of Pixabay

What Do I Do If My Dog Ate Poppy Seeds?

Poppy seeds can be potentially dangerous to your dog, depending on how much they’ve ingested.

It may be unlikely that your St. Bernard would have any extremely severe effects if it were to eat a single poppy seed cracker, but it may get a slightly intoxicating effect. A chihuahua who gets into a bagel of poppy seed bagels, on the other hand, might have much more serious side effects simply because their bodies are smaller and metabolize foods differently.

Either way, if you know your dog ate poppy seeds, we recommend reaching out to your vet for advice. Opioid poisoning can kill your pet much faster than it can a human, so the moment you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, get your dog to the vet.

Final Thoughts

Poppy seed poisoning can cause a host of side effects and could even be fatal if ingested in large amounts. If your dog gets into a single poppy seed muffin, it is unlikely it will have any ill effects other than potential gastrointestinal upset.

If you have poppy seeds in your home, do your best to keep them far out of reach from your curious pets. If you do a lot of baking with the seeds, familiarizing yourself with the signs of poisoning will help you identify the symptoms quickly so you can get your dog the medical attention he needs.


Featured Photo Courtesy: Pixabay