Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
Avocados are not one of those food items that immediately spring to mind when thinking of things to feed your dog. But if your furry friend has accidentally eaten some avocado, or if you’ve been tempted to see if your dog will like it, you’ve probably been wondering, can dogs eat avocado? Well, that depends on how it is prepared, and your dog’s medical condition. If it is prepared properly and the dog can stomach it, avocado can actually provide your dog with important nutrients and health benefits.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado—The Debate
Many veterinarians strongly agree that avocados should never be given to your dog, in any form whatsoever. On the other hand, some suggest that avocados can, in fact, be safe for dogs to consume, provided that dogs only consume a certain part of the avocado, and that the dog does not have an underlying health condition that may cause it to get sick if it eats avocado.
While the debate will certainly continue, the fact remains that some parts of the avocado, while very nutritious and healthy for humans, is actually toxic for dogs.
Why are Avocados Dangerous for Dogs?
The concern about feeding avocado to your dog arises from the presence of persin, a toxin found in all parts of the fruit, including the leaves, plant, and pit. Large amounts of persin is harmful to many animals, including dogs, and can induce vomiting and diarrhea.
Consuming high levels of persin can be lethal to some animals, such as birds and cattle. However, dogs are actually much more resistant to persin than other animals, and many vets have concluded after numerous studies that the ripe fruit is not toxic to dogs. Still, the potential for illness is there, so you may want to keep avocados away from your dog altogether and avoid taking any chances.
If you still want to try giving your dog some avocado, it should only be the interior fruit part, and only when the fruit is ripe. An avocado that has not fully ripened yet will contain higher levels of persin. The ripe fruit contains the least amount and will be the part that is safest for your dog to consume. However, you should avoid feeding any avocado to young puppies, as their immune system and organs are still in development and they may be more susceptible to ill effects than older dogs.
Additionally, before giving your dog avocado, (or any sort of food that is not normally considered dog food) you should consult your veterinarian first. This is especially true if your dog has some health issues. The veterinarian can tell you if avocado is a good or bad idea based on the dog’s health issues.
According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, most dogs who consume avocado and suffer adverse effects to the fruit will experience indigestion of some kind, and possibly vomiting and/or diarrhea.
How to Feed Avocado to Your Dog
Choose organic avocados, and feed your dog only small pieces of the ripe fruit. The avocado should only be given to your dog as an occasional treat, and not part of a daily meal. You can serve the dog small pieces of plain avocado, or you can mix a bit of it in with the dog food.
When first giving your dog avocado to try, monitor your dog carefully for any sorts of reaction. If your dog doesn’t appear to feel well afterward or exhibits any indigestion symptoms, avoid giving your dog avocado from that point forward.
Additionally, be aware that although avocados contain good fats, they are still very high in fat. Giving your dog too much avocado can result in weight problems and increase the risk of pancreatitis.
Instead of choosing the fruit itself, you can opt for a dog food that contains avocado as an ingredient. There are a few on the market you can choose from, but take the time to read reviews and do your research. Most brands have data showing that the persin levels in avocado are below the danger level or diminished completely by the time the fruit has been used in the dog food.
Never feed your dog larger parts of the avocado and especially not the whole fruit. The pit of the avocado is very large and could be a definite choking hazard. If it is swallowed, it can also cause an obstruction in the dog’s throat or intestines, leading to much more severe health complications.
Avoid giving your dog other products made with avocado, such as guacamole. The guacamole could contain other ingredients that are harmful or toxic to dogs, such as onions. Onions and other types of seasonings can lead to a host of different health problems, so only the ripe fruit or avocado that has been utilized in approved dog foods is recommended as safe for your dog.
How to Keep Dogs Away from Avocados
You probably already know that dogs like to try to eat anything they can get their mouth on. They’ll sniff around the kitchen table and countertops, and nose through the trash when you aren’t looking. If you are worried about your dog getting into the trash and accidentally ingesting avocado (or anything it shouldn’t be eating), you can invest in a garbage pail with a locking lid, or better yet, a dog-proof garbage can.
Also, avoid leaving avocados on the counter. Lock them away in the pantry or the fridge where your dog will be unable to get at them. If a dog manages to get a whole avocado and consumes the skin and pit, you will likely be making a trip to the vet pretty soon afterward.
Health Benefits of Avocado for Dogs
So now that you know the answer to “Can dogs eat avocado?” you probably want to know what the health benefits of avocado for your dog would be. For starters, avocados are highly nutritious, containing several vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B6, C, E, and folate, niacin, and potassium.
Avocados also contain a large amount of antioxidants that can help to reduce the risk of certain maladies and cancers. The large amount of fiber in avocados can also help aid in digestion, and the fatty acids are beneficial for a dog’s coat, helping to keep it shiny and healthy.
Again, be advised that although avocados contain good fats, too much fat of any kind for a dog is not good at all, and some dogs with medical conditions may have to be on a low-fat diet, so even a little bit of fat can cause illness and issues for the dog.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado?: In Conclusion
So, there appears to be a good argument by reputable sources both for and against giving avocado to dogs. After talking to your veterinarian, you are, of course, free to make your own decision regarding whether or not you think it is okay to give your dog avocado. Just be sure to follow the guidelines detailed above if you do and watch your dog throughout the day for any reaction.
And, be reminded that only a small amount of avocado is recommended as a treat on an occasional basis. Dog’s stomachs and systems are much more sensitive to larger amounts of food than ours, and too much avocado at once can definitely make them feel sick. Your best bet is to give them a dog food that already contains a perfect balance of avocado and all the other important nutrients your dog needs.