Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
Whether your dog has eaten an avocado off the tree or a few pieces of avocado off your breakfast plate, here's what you need to know about feeding your dog avocado.
The tasty avocado, with its big pit, alligator-like skin, and delicious, fatty flesh is a popular raw food treat for foodies and regular folk alike. And given the avocado toast’s meteoric rise (and fall!) as a must-have brunch staple at tables across the world, you’re probably wondering, can dogs eat avocado? (And who could blame you? Your Instagram likes would be off the charts.)
Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
All jokes aside, if your dog snatches some avocado off the breakfast table, or even off the backyard avocado tree—will he be okay? It’s not a simple “yes’” or “no”—the answer depends on what part of the avocado you dog consumes, and how much of it.
Avocado as an Ingredient
Some commercial dog foods or dog treats include ingredients made from the pulp of the avocado—that soft, green stuff around the pit that we all enjoy on our burritos. It’s OK if your pup’s ingredient list includes items like “avocado oil” or “avocado meal” since avocado is often a small, nontoxic ingredient in these foods.
But just because avocado oil or avocado meal is considered safe in your dog’s food, doesn’t mean he should start eating raw avocados. Quite the contrary, in fact.
In their raw state, avocados contain a lot of fat, which can aggravate your dog's stomach and inflame his pancreas (which can lead to pancreatitis—a painful condition that requires medical attention). Your dog’s pancreas is a crucial organ for digestion and hormone regulation. If you're watching your dog's weight or your dog has a history of pancreas issues, consider other lower-calorie, lower-fat fruits or vegetables like carrots or apples as a safer treat instead of avocado.
Another, more serious issue with raw avocado is the presence of persin, a fungus-killing toxin found in parts of the fruit. While this toxin is not as much of a problem for dogs as it is for other animals, it's still a concern.
"The leaves, fruit, seeds, and bark of avocados all contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs," says Tina Wismer, DVM, MS, DABVT, DABT, a veterinarian and senior director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, which answers calls from pet owners and animal health professionals on potential poisonings. Persin toxicity also can cause damage to your pet’s myocardium, or heart muscle.
The pit of an avocado poses another threat to your pup, since it can create a dangerous block if it's been swallowed. Wismer says the pit of an avocado can get stuck in your dog’s digestive tract and require surgery to remove.
Is It Possible to Safely Feed Your Dog Avocado?
If your pup’s interest in this trendy green fruit persists, it’s best to check with your vet before giving him a taste. Even if you keep the pit and the persin away from him, the high-fat content can contribute to weight gain or pancreatitis. Your vet will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not your dog can safely eat avocado based on his health history and specific nutritional needs. And if your garden contains an avocado tree (lucky you!), be sure to keep the fruit out of your four-legged foodie’s reach, since raw avocados are the most dangerous to dogs.