Whether served smashed onto sourdough, sliced in a salad, or blended into a guacamole, avocados are a versatile food full of vitamins and healthy fats.
This trendy foodstuff dates back to 10,000 BC where it was discovered in Central America. It still forms a big part of the American diet - whether in a Mexican burrito or a Mississippi 'avocados and eggs'.
Over here in Australia, avocados are in season all year round and so every day can be an avocado day! We have been harvesting this green fruit for hundreds of years, with peak season running from June to November.
We are a nation of avocado aficionados, but opinion on this humble and versatile berry is very much split.
While it is known across the world, avocado is somewhat of a 'marmite food'. It is a bland fruit whose acquired taste divides the opinions of foodies everywhere. It is a fruit with a mild taste that is creamy, buttery, and earthy all at once. Love or loathe this source of heart-healthy fat, one thing is for sure: its health benefits make it one of the most fashionable and photogenic superfoods. Your social media feeds are filled with arty shots of avocado toast. This hearty brunch meal is brimming with fatty acids that, in moderation, are great for mind and body.
Whenever you have tucked into your delicious avocado dish, you may have wondered: "can dogs eat avocado?". It is a good question, as dogs are able to join us dog parents in eating other human foods, such as bread, fish, and meats. Varying the food your dog eats is a great way to keep them happy and healthy as suitable human food can be full of beneficial nutrients. Although, when it comes to dogs eating avocado, the answer is not so straightforward.
Is avocado safe for dogs to eat?
The presence of a fungicidal toxin called persin makes avocado flesh potentially dangerous for dogs. Produced within the avocado plant, persin has a structure similar to fatty acids and reaches the avocado fruit from the seeds. As a toxin, persin can cause serious health problems in many animals. In worst cases, it can cause death. Veterinarians do think that dogs are more resistant to persin than other animals, but this doesn't make avocados 100% safe for dogs. Before letting your dogs eat avocado - as with all human foods - you should consult your veterinarian.
Where is persin found?
The harmful substance that makes avocados one of the most toxic foods for animals - persin - is found in several parts of the avocado fruit. Most of the persin is concentrated in avocado trees, and in the avocado pit, leaves, and skin. There are also small amounts present in avocado flesh, which is why you must not let your dog eat too much avocado.
How much persin is harmful?
The level at which persin becomes harmful to dogs is not fully understood. What is known is that if eaten in large amounts, the persin in avocado can cause your dog to suffer from an upset stomach. Symptoms of your dog eating too much avocado include vomiting, diarrhoea, and damage to your dog's heart.
Effects of avocado in large quantities
As well as the persin toxin posing a health risk to your dog, eating avocado flesh in large portions can also be harmful to your canine friends. Avocados have a high fat content which can lead to gastrointestinal upset. It also carries the risk of inducing pancreatitis in dogs. It is also very high in calories, so excess consumption can lead to weight gain.
So, can I feed my dog avocado?
The key thing to do before your dog eats avocado is to check with your vet. The flesh of avocado can be considered only mildly toxic to dogs, and may not result in any side effects at all. If they conclude that small amounts of avocado will be fine for your pup to eat alongside their usual diet of dog foods, make sure you do give them a small serving size. Larger chunks of avocado can pose a choking hazard and so you should always make sure you serve smaller pieces.
To allow your dog to benefit from the vitamins and nutrients of avocado without the risk, consider feeding them safe dog food.
Can my dog eat avocado oil?
You should not feed your dog large quantities of any oil, as they have high fat content. However, avocado oil is on the list of safe human foods for dogs. If your dog ate a small amount of avocado oil, they shouldn't come to harm as it contains no toxins. As a non-toxic oil, it is used to make dog food that has the taste and nutrition of avocados. That said, the oil alone should not be part of your pup's diet.
How to safely let your dog eat avocados
If you would like to begin feeding your dog avocado - after all, it does have many health benefits - you can do this though natural pet food that is safe for dogs.
Some of the natural food that dogs eat contains avocado meal and avocado oil. Avocado meal is flesh that has been dried and ground, which makes it free from the toxic persin. Combined with other foods that dogs eat, these dog foods do not contain the harmful parts of avocado - the leaves, skin, bark, or pit. You can find many varieties of avocado dog meals in pet stores and from online retailers.
If you decide to feed your dog a meal that contains avocados, you should monitor them to check for any adverse response. Many dogs will process and digest avocado with no problem, but it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Parts of the avocado that dogs should not eat
If, after seeking advice and clearance from your veterinarian, you decide to feed your dogs avocados, or avocado dog food, make sure you only give the safe parts of the fruit.
These other parts of avocado present a serious risk to dogs: leaves, skin, and the pit. If your dog eats these other parts of the fruit, they could be in real danger.
The fruit of the avocado tree contains a large pit that needs to be removed before eating. Us humans know to take out the hard stone before we eat avocados, but your excited dog may try and consume the entire fruit - pit and all.
If swallowed, avocado pits can get stuck partway in your dog's intestinal tract. This means that your dog's system is not able to process the pit, and so surgery will be required to remove the obstruction. To avoid avocado pits potentially causing intestinal obstructions, make sure to keep the choking hazard pit out of reach of your dog.
Can dogs eat guacamole?
While dogs can eat small amounts of avocado pulp, you should not feed your dog guacamole. This popular dip often contains extra ingredients such as garlic and salt, which your dog cannot eat. What's more, guacamole often contains a higher concentration of avocados and so you could inadvertently feed your dog harmfully large amounts of avocado.
So when it comes to guacamole, save that for your nachos and chips n' dip! This Tex-Mex condiment is not well-suited to your pup's diet. Your dog can still enjoy avocado in its purest form, as long as you prepare it properly.
What to remember when feeding your dog avocado
When introducing new foods to your dog, you should keep an eye on them to make sure they are not suffering a reaction. If you notice any side effects, call your veterinarian immediately. Some possible side effects from excess avocado consumption can include your dog acting lethargic and exhibiting a decreased appetite. It is vital that you report these symptoms as, if left untreated, they can result in kidney failure.
- stick with avocado dog mix for peace of mind that your dog won't eat harmful skin or leaves
- if feeding fresh avocado, never feed the skin, leaves, or pit. If your dog swallows the pit it could cause an intestinal blockage
- cut avocado into small pieces before serving
- limit serving sizes as avocados are very high in fat
Safety is paramount
So, the answer to the question "can dogs eat avocado?" isn't as straightforward as you hoped. The key here is putting safety at the forefront. If your dog has no allergies to avocado, then follow the steps above and offer them small pieces at a time.
If you are keen for your dog to benefit from the health perks of avocado, don't forget you can pick up specially-formulated avocado dog food! This is a great way to ensure your dog is safe while they tuck into some delicious avo, as the food will not contain any dangerous parts of the fruit.
Remember to always consult your vet whenever you introduce human foods to your dog. They can advise on suitability for your breed, and ensure your pup stays happy and healthy.