Can Dogs Eat Avocado? Benefits and Risks
If you have been keeping an eye on healthy food trends, you could not have missed the hype around avocados. Today, this fruit is one of the most appreciated for its health benefits, versatility, and delicious taste. And, if you regularly shop for them, you have probably wondered whether your dog can benefit just as much as you do from avocados.
In small quantities, avocado can be a nutritious addition to your dog’s diet. This fruit is high in vitamins, fatty acids, minerals, and healthy fats – so much that some commercially available dog food will include avocado. At the same time, avocados contain a compound – Persin– that is highly toxic to animals.
So, can your dog have avocado? The answer is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” – find out everything you need to know below.
Why Isn’t Avocado Safe for Dogs?
The nutritional profile and benefits of avocados do not change when you are feeding avocados to your dog. These fruits contain over 20 vitamins (including vitamin K, E, C, and B), minerals (such as potassium and magnesium), antioxidants, fiber, proteins, and fatty acids – all of which are vital for the general health of your dog.
However, avocados contain Persin, a fatty acid derivative that can be extremely toxic for animals. This toxic compound is present in every part of the avocado plant, from its leaves, stem, skin, seeds, and fruit. In the avocado fruit, persin is present in particularly high quantities in the skin and the pit. When ingested in high quantities, persin can lead to severe digestive issues, abdominal pain, and, in severe cases, myocardial damage and death.
While we know that dogs have a much higher resistance to avocado than other animals such as birds, horses, cows, goats, and sheep, it is still undefined which quantities can trigger an adverse effect.
So, is avocado bad for dogs? In large amounts, it can be. If you decide to feed it to your dog, make sure to consult your vet and only prepare small portions.
The Avocado Peel Is Toxic
The first thing to watch out for when feeding avocado to your dog is the levels of persin contained in the avocado peel. The peel, or the skin, is one of the parts of the avocado that contain the largest amount of persin.
As we have seen, this chemical is present in all parts of the avocado, including the avocado flesh. However, while in the pulp this toxin is present in low levels, most of the persin of an avocado plant is concentrated on the plant’s leaves and the fruit’s skin.
If you have an avocado tree in your backyard or often buy avocados, make sure to keep the fruits away from your pets. And, if you opt for feeding this fruit to your dog, make sure to serve only the pulp. Remember: the exact levels of persons that can be lethal to your dog are unknown, and the symptoms of avocado poisoning can vary – so it is always better not to take any risks.
The Avocado Pit Is Toxic and a Choking Hazard
The persin levels in the skin are undoubtedly a risk for dogs, but the greatest hazard in avocados actually comes from the pit. The avocado pit (also called the seed) can vary in size, but it can be as large as a golf ball. The seed is usually removed when eating or preparing avocado.
However, it is not unlikely for dogs to go after it. And, if your dog finds it, you should not only worry about the high levels of persin contained in the pit but also about the substantial choking hazard it presents. If ingested, the avocado pit can easily get stuck in your dog’s throat, causing a severe blockage in the airways and requiring immediate veterinary attention.
Avocado Flesh Is Very Fatty
Even if you are careful to safely discard the pit and remove the skin, serving avocado to your dog regularly comes with nutritional side effects. If your dog eats avocado daily, it is essential to be mindful of this fruit’s high-fat content.
While avocado’s natural fatty acids are essential for general health, increasing your dog’s fat intake can lead to gastrointestinal and digestive problems, as well as life-threatening conditions such as pancreatitis.
In the long term, calorie-dense foods such as avocado (160 calories in 100g) can also cause weight gain and obesity.
When feeding avocado to your dog, you should:
- Cut it in a half, remove the pit, and discard the skin
- Serve the avocado in slices, cubes, pieces, or chunks to better control the amount.
- Start by feeding your dog a small bite and check for adverse reactions
After feeding avocado to your dog for the first time, you should check that your pet doesn’t develop intestinal problems such as a stomach upset. These symptoms can appear after a day of eating an avocado.
What About Foods Made With Avocado?
Once you have discovered the deliciousness of avocado, there is no going back. That is why we have always found new ways to eat it.
From guacamole to avocado toast, avocado oil, and smoothies, avocados seem to be everywhere in human foods. However, when feeding any of these foods to your dog, the rules seen above apply.
Additionally, you should check what other ingredients are included in the recipe. For example, guacamole is often prepared with garlic and onion, which are toxic for your dog. Lastly, depending on your dog’s diet, some of these foods might be too high in sugar, fats, fibers, or calories to be appropriate.
Always consult your vet about what foods your dog should and shouldn’t eat. And, if you are looking for a safe alternative to feed avocado to your puppy, look for commercially sold dog food that includes avocado meals.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Avocado?
Avocado toxicity in dogs can appear in many ways. Some of the common symptoms of avocado poisoning include:
- Stomach upset
- Irregular or unusual stools
- Difficulty passing stools
- Abdominal pain
In extremely rare cases, pancreatitis, myocardial damage, and death can also occur. To avoid severe side effects, watch your dog closely when eating avocado to ensure that they are not eating more than the allowed portion or ingesting skin or pits.
If you have noticed that your dog seems unwell, you should contact your vet immediately.
Safe Fruits for Dogs To Snack On
Thanks to their rich nutritional profile, avocados can be extremely beneficial foods. However, their high-fat content, persin levels, and large pits can represent nutritional and health hazards for your dog. And avocados are not the only examples of a great human superfood that is not so beneficial for dogs: coconut oil, sardines, and fermented vegetables are only a few of the foods that can be damaging for your pet.
Luckily, your dog does not have to miss out on the benefits of a nutritional and balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, apples, watermelons, bananas, strawberries, pears, and kiwis are safe, highly beneficial, and come without any side effects for your puppy.
Health Disclaimer: This post is educational in nature and doesn’t constitute health advice. Please consult your pet’s veterinarian or other healthcare professionals for specific guidance on this topic.