Can dogs eat avocados? There isn’t a short yes or no answer. Avocados can be dangerous for dogs, though reports that they are actually toxic are sometimes blown out of proportion. So long as they are prepared properly, avocados are usually safe for dogs to eat. Much of the controversy around avocados concerns persin, a toxin contained in all parts of the avocado, especially if it is unripened, though persin levels in the ripe fruit drop to almost undetectable levels. This toxin mostly affects birds and large animals, such as cattle. Dogs are fairly resistant to persin, as are humans, and as long as dogs are only served the ripe fruit of the avocado without the skin, stems, pits, or leaves, they are usually fine and may even gain some health benefits from eating avocados. This is not the case with every dog, and there are some words of caution you should consider before feeding your dog avocados. You should always ask your veterinarian before sharing human foods with your pup. Here is what you should know about feeding avocados to dogs.
How Are Avocados Good For Dogs?
The ripe, green fruit of the avocado contains many beneficial nutrients that can give dogs a health boost, and they have even been used in some kinds of dog food. Avocados are a source of vitamins A, B6, C, and E, as well as fiber that can aid in digestive health, fatty acids that are good for the coat, and other substances like folate, niacin, potassium, and antioxidants that may help fight disease and cancer.
Avocados contain what some refer to as “good fat,” which may help lower cholesterol, however too much of a good thing is never a good thing. Dogs that eat too much fat can develop pancreatitis, though it would likely take a lot of exposure to avocados for that to be a problem. Still, some dogs have medical conditions that require low-fat diets, and some dogs may develop gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, or diarrhea if they eat too much avocado. Discuss these issues with your veterinarian before you give your dog avocados.
Why Are Avocados Bad For Dogs?
Persin, a substance that is toxic mostly to birds and large cattle, is present in all parts of the avocado, though this is unlikely to be harmful to dogs. The persin content of avocados is higher in unripened fruit, but ripe avocado fruit has fairly low levels of persin. If a dog is fed only the ripened fruit, the likelihood of persin poisoning is extremely low, though some dog owners may still be concerned and choose not to feed their dogs avocados for this reason.
The main dangers for dogs who eat avocados come from the stems, skin, and pits of the avocados. The stems and skins are difficult to digest, as is the pit, even if it is ground up. Consuming these parts of the avocado can result in gastrointestinal blockage and cause serious complications. Additionally, the hard pit presents a choking hazard. It is not safe to let your dog eat these parts of the avocado, and if you have an avocado tree on your property, make sure your dog does not have access to the fruit.
Even fruit that is prepared properly can cause gastrointestinal upset in some dogs, especially if it is served in high quantities, and the high fat content of avocados may make them a poor choice for dogs with certain medical conditions. As with almost any food, there is a chance that your dog will be allergic to avocados. Rarely, this can lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. If you see the signs of an allergic reaction in your dog, including sneezing, coughing, swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing, stop giving your dog avocados and contact your veterinarian.
Should You Feed Your Dog Avocados?
You should always ask your veterinarian or nutritionist before making any choices about what human foods to share with your dog. Certain medical conditions may be worsened by avocados, so they aren’t for every dog. If you are concerned about persin poisoning, you can choose other foods that provide similar health benefits without the persin.
If you do decide to serve avocados to your dog, choose organic, ripe avocados that are free of chemicals and additives. Remove the pits, skins, and stems. It is best to serve avocados plain, or you can mix them in with your dog’s other regular foods. It probably isn’t a good idea to serve your dog guacamole, as other ingredients may be harmful to dogs. Again, it’s best to ask your veterinarian before serving your dog these human foods.
Do you ever feed your dog avocados? How do you prepare them? Let us know in the comments below!