When it’s OK to feed Avocado to Dogs (and When to Avoid It)
July 26, 2021
Although avocados are listed on the Humane Society’s list of foods that can be poisonous to pets, small amounts will likely not harm your dog, and they may benefit from eating the fruit. Avocado is actually an ingredient in certain dog food brands.
What are the nutritional benefits of avocados for dogs?
Avocados, also known as alligator pears, are not only tasty, but also have numerous nutritional benefits. The avocado flesh contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, ensuring the fruit boasts a high nutritional value. Vitamins A, B3, B6, C, and E help your dog maintain healthy skin, fur, and bones. Other benefits include:
- Healthy coat — Fatty acids, niacin, potassium, and folate contribute to your dog maintaining a healthy, shiny coat.
- Good vision — The phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin provide antioxidant protection for your dog’s eyes, minimizing damage from ultraviolet light.
- Strong bones — Vitamin K supports your dog’s bone health by increasing calcium absorption, and reducing urinary calcium excretion.
- Improved digestion — Fiber helps prevent constipation, and helps your dog maintain a healthy digestive tract.
What are the dangers of avocados for dogs?
The most dangerous aspect of your dog eating an avocado is their risk of choking on the pit. This large seed can easily become lodged in your dog’s airway, causing them to choke. If swallowed, the pit is large enough to become stuck in your dog’s intestine, causing a blockage and damaging their intestinal lining. Other factors that make this seemingly innocuous fruit a danger include:
- Persin — This fungicidal toxin is found in an avocado’s leaves, stem, pit, skin, and flesh. Dogs are mostly resistant to persin, and would have to eat large amounts of avocado to experience problems. Other animals, such as birds, horses, sheep, goats, and cows, are much more sensitive to the toxin, and have more serious issues related to avocado ingestion. If your dog eats too much avocado, signs will include stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Fat — Avocados have a high fat content (i.e., about 30 grams per avocado). If your dog eats too much fat, they can develop pancreatitis, a painful and dangerous condition. The pancreas typically works to aid in digestion by releasing enzymes that are normally activated once they reach the small intestine. In a dog with pancreatitis, these enzymes are activated when they are released, resulting in damage to the pancreas and surrounding tissue. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and fever.
- Food allergy — Dogs can be allergic to any food, and avocado is no exception. Signs include hives, itchy skin, diarrhea, and gas. Always offer only small amounts when introducing your dog to new foods.
If your family regularly eats avocados, dispose of the skin and pit carefully, and prevent your dog from accessing the garbage. If you have an avocado tree on your property, keep your dog away, and clean up any leaves or branches that fall to the ground.
Can dogs eat guacamole?
While dogs can eat avocado in small amounts, they should not eat guacamole, because other ingredients can be extremely harmful. Dangerous ingredients include:
- Onions, chives, and garlic — These vegetables contain N-propyl disulfide, a sulfur compound that is extremely toxic to dogs. This compound attaches to the oxygen molecules in your dog’s red blood cells, and prevents the cells from carrying oxygen properly. Also, your dog’s body begins attacking the red blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia. Signs include lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, pale gums, and incoordination.
- Tomatoes — You can safely feed your dog ripe tomatoes in small amounts, but unripe tomatoes contain a high content of solanine, a poisonous compound. Signs include diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, dilated pupils, and excessive drooling.
Is commercial avocado dog food safe?
In an attempt to add nutritional value, many manufacturers are adding avocado oil and avocado meal to their dog food products. These ingredients do not contain persin, and are completely safe for your dog when incorporated into a commercial dog food. However, never feed your dog large quantities of avocado oil, to prevent pancreatitis development.
Should I feed my dog avocado?
Always ask your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet in any way. If your veterinarian does allow your dog to have avocado, feed them only the flesh. Always remove the skin and pit before offering the fruit to your dog, and give them only small portions. Never allow your dog to have guacamole. Monitor your pet closely the first time they eat avocado, and call Animal Poison Control with any questions or concerns.
What other fruits and vegetables can I feed my dog?
Many other fruits and vegetables have nutritional benefits for your dog without the avocado’s high fat content. Healthy vegetable treats include carrots, green beans, celery, and peas. Fruit should be fed only in moderation, since they contain high levels of natural sugar. Dog-safe fruits include apples, bananas, strawberries, oranges, and pears. Never feed your dog grapes, which are extremely toxic for dogs, and can cause kidney failure.
Numerous online recipes for dog treats include avocados as an ingredient, but you should always consult your veterinarian before offering your dog any new dietary element. However, you can rest assured that your dog will likely be fine if they sneak an avocado slice from your plate.
https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-avocado/. American Kennel Club. February 2019.
https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/are-avocados-poisonous-dogs. PetMD. June 2020.
https://trupanion.com/pet-care/can-dogs-eat-avocado. Trupanion.https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270406. MedicalNewsToday. September 2017.
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