Wondering if your dog can eat avocado? Get the scoop on how avocados can be dangerous and how they can be healthy!
As I was chasing my dog this week after she tore away with a renegade avocado pit in her mouth, I started wondering: Can dogs eat avocado?
I’m familiar with the standard “do not eat” list for dogs: grapes, chocolate, coffee, xylitol sweetener— but what about avocado?
With the avocado growing in popularity due to its many healthful benefits, and knowing a lot of my readers take a more natural and healthful approach to life, I figured this would be a good question to answer.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado? Well . . . It Depends.
Yes, you guessed it – this is one of those “it depends” answers. Specifically, it depends on what part of the avocado you’re talking about. Some parts of the avocado have health benefits for dogs, some parts could be dangerous.
What Toxin Makes Avocado Dangerous for Dogs?
Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called persin. The highest concentrations of persin in avocados is in their skin and pits (and stems and leaves if you happen to have an avocado tree in your yard).
According to the Pet Poison Hotline website, “While dogs and cats are rarely affected by persin, avocado poisoning can be deadly to birds and large animals (such as cows, goats, sheep).” Different animals have different sensitivities to the toxin, and fortunately dogs aren’t as sensitive to it
The website goes on to say the biggest risk to dogs is not the toxin, it’s actually the pit!
Can Dogs Eat Avocado Pits?
The avocado pit is dangerous for dogs, but not for the reasons you might think.
It does have a higher concentration of persin, and since dogs shouldn’t have large quantities of persin, that is one reason that avocado pits should be avoided.
But the real danger of the avocado pit is possible obstruction in the esophagus, stomach, or intestinal tract.
As soon as I read this, I immediately could picture it in my mind: you are cutting up your avocado, the pit goes flying, and the dog grabs it. You reach down to grab it out of their mouth and what do they do?
They gulp it down whole. Shudder. I saw a dog do this with a 5” bully stick – when they think you might take something away it can almost be a reflexive response to gulp it down.
Once they swallow it, it can get stuck in the esophagus, the stomach, or the intestinal tract.
Site after site said that if your dog eats a pit to get your dog to the ER vet where they can monitor it and surgically remove it if they determine it’s stuck.
Is Avocado Skin Safe For Dogs?
Avocado skins are much less dangerous than pits.
First of all, dogs are much less likely to eat avocado skin. If you’re ever had a tiny piece of skin that was left on the avocado you’re eating you know why: they are tough and don’t taste good.
The skin has small amounts of persin so definitely don’t give it to your dog on purpose, or leave a pile of skins out that your dog can counter surf and chew if they are bored.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado Flesh? (the yummy green part)
Avocados have many healthful benefits. They are a good source of vitamins A, C, B6, and E, and fatty acids which are good for your dog’s coat.
They contain fiber which benefits digestive health, and components such as antioxidants, folate, potassium, and niacin which may help fight disease.
On the flip side, there can be negative effects if a dog eats too much avocado flesh. For one, large quantities might upset their stomach (just like large quantities could upset our stomach!). Dogs with medical conditions that require low-fat diets, such as pancreatitis, should avoid avocados because of their high fat content.
So, is adding a few slices of avocado to your dog’s meal OK? In most cases, yes. Avocado flesh contains very low amounts of persin so that is not going to be an issue if consumed in small amounts.
Use your common sense, though: if your dog gets diarrhea, vomits, or gets an upset stomach, then avocados are not for them. And if your dog has any medical issues or is on any medications, check with your vet first!
I would also avoid things like guacamole, which may contain additional ingredients that will upset your dog’s tummy.
So . . . Did MY Dog Eat The Avocado Pit?
In case you’re wondering how my avocado chase ended, I did catch up with my dog and get the avocado pit out of her mouth before she tried to swallow it. Fortunately, she is more of a chewer than a gulper.
I have to admit I was surprised when I researched this article and learned that the most serious danger of the avocado is the risk of esophageal or intestinal blockage from swallowing the pit whole.
After learning about the dangers of swallowed avocado pits, next time I will go running to the treat cupboard and drop a handful of treats on the floor instead of grabbing my dog, which could cause her to gulp it down.
The Final Word on Dogs and Avocados
Based on what I learned, dogs can have avocado, just be careful with the pits!
Definitely don’t go out and start giving your dogs some of your chips and guac, but feel free to give them a slice of avocado here and there as a treat!
Until next time-
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