Can Dogs Eat Avocado? Is Avocado Good Or Bad For Dogs?

can dogs eat avocado

Today’s question: can dogs eat avocado? Is avocado good or bad for dogs? Scroll down for detailed answers.

Ever since the fruit of the avocado tree (also known as avocado) was discovered many thousands of years ago, humans have enjoyed the tasty treat.  The fruit is native to Southern Central Mexico, but now cultivated in many tropical and Mediterranean climates, and eaten the world over.   The endearingly smooth texture and subtle flavors make it very popular, and of course, it is found most commonly as the base of the popular Mexican dip, guacamole.  Avocado is also used in many recipes, smoothies, and natural ingredients within dishes that are considered to be ‘whole foods’.  The popularity of the avocado extends to the skin as well.  Avocado is used as cleaners and moisturizes for the skin and face, and as a conditioner for the hair. There are so many uses for the avocado, finding a favorite is quite difficult. Since avocados have multiple benefits, many dog owners wonder: can dogs eat avocado?

can dogs eat avocado

Good for humans, but what about their canine companions? Can dogs eat avocado?

The short answer is a cautious yes. The flesh of avocado is safe to feed to your pooch in moderation.

While avocados have become so popular in households across the world, there may be an overabundance of them laying in the fruit bowl, begging for use.  You may also love your avocado and your dog so much you wish to pair the two up.  Do dogs like avocado?  Would this avocado conditioner work on the stiff hair of my dog?  Can dogs benefit from avocado like humans?  While undoubtedly a favorite with humans, many dog owners ask: but can dogs eat avocado?

Having a higher fat content than many other fruits, the avocado is a useful alternative to other high fat content foods such as fish or dairy products.  The fat is considered to be a healthy fat and an important part of a balanced diet when used correctly and in moderation.   The answer to whether dogs may eat avocado is still a contested issue and there has been some disagreement between leading authorities.  There are instances of people feeding dog’s avocado for years without problems and there are also examples of a dog eating avocado and then having had a terrible experience. Just as certain food agrees with the stomach of one dog and not the other, tolerance of avocado is difficult to judge simply based on the experiences of dogs outside of your own.  Ultimately it is important to recognize that like humans, all dogs are different.  The breed, size, hidden allergies, or even personality of your dog will affect how the body tolerates avocado.

The avocado tree, especially the pit (big seed in the middle of the fruit), the outer skin/peel of the fruit, bark and the leaves all contain persin. Persin is a fungicidal toxin, which is harmful for many animals, but recent studies suggest it is not actually harmful to dogs.  The skin and pit may not be harmful to dogs because of the lack of toxin within them, but the skin and pit can be intestinal hazards.  Choking is a big risk with any type of fruit pit a dog may swallow, and is intestinal blockage.  Be careful feeding your dog any fruit with a pit, whether the pit is deemed harmful or not.  Also be careful of feeding your dog the avocado with persin since the ingredient has had an effect on other animals, even if deemed ok for dog use.  Our dog may be the one dog who does not tolerate the persin.

Take proper precautions with your pet

can dogs eat avocado pit and peel

The confusion of which fruits to offer a dog, and whether Persin is to be tolerated, arises due to the large numbers of animals that do find this chemical toxic (especially birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and large cattle).  Also it is worth noting from above (even if it were to be harmful to dogs) where the persin is found in significant quantities, and more importantly where it is not – the fleshy fruit part itself, which is the part that is actually eaten.  If persin is not in the center part of the avocado that is made into dips and enjoyed as baked treats, the dog may enjoy the fruit without toxin risk and without risk of choking on a pit.

However, one danger that is universally agreed upon is the potential possibility for internal obstruction due to the large pit in the middle of the avocado.  The possibility of swallowing the pit can easily obstruct and block a dog’s intestinal tract, esophagus or stomach.  Blocking the intestinal tract can lead to poisoning of your dog unintentionally from the back up of waste.  The dog could also develop bloat and die within a few hours if the stomach becomes distended.

For the reason of choking and potential intestinal hazards, dogs should never be given a whole avocado, and the pit must always be removed. Being the adventurous scallywags we all know and love, it is advisable to keep them well out of reach, as dogs have been known to pounce and steal them right off the kitchen counter!  In the event you have a dog who has stolen avocados off your counter and eaten the avocado whole, call the veterinarian and receive advice on how to proceed.  Also, keep a close eye on the behavior and wellness of your dog to ensure s/he does not have any adverse reactions.

Another potential problem, (although not just specifically for dogs) is the vulnerability of the fruit to bacterial, viral and fungal diseases.  The appearance of the fruit should indicate freshness, either by looking perfect as a picture, or looking a funny color (a dark green outer skin, and a lighter green fleshy body).  Strange spots on the skin or fruit are a warning sign as well.  These avocados with signs of disease should be avoided by humans as well as dogs!

The benefits

The avocado can be a great source of essential nutrients for your canine companion.  The natural fats in the fruit can help to keep the skin healthy and give dogs a shiny, vibrant looking coat.  The omega fatty acids can work as anti-inflammatory agents and the high levels of antioxidants provide assistance to the immune system.  The skin will be smooth under the furry coat and be less prone to breakout, rashes, and itchiness.   Skin irritants may cause your dog to eat his/her foot and chew on the skin, causing damage and possible infection.   Avoid this and offer occasional avocado to keep the skin healthy.

The fruit is chock full of 18 amino acids, including the eight required to make a complete protein so (though not as a substitute), works well alongside the main source for proteins found in meat and fish, providing the essential foundation for muscle growth and fully functioning vital organs. Like all things, there is a healthy balance that needs to be found as the high fat content (which can be fine as fats are essential to a healthy dog) can lead to obesity and resulting heart problems.

Can puppies eat avocados?

A tiny lick would most likely not do any harm. However, avocados are really not recommended for puppies. All puppies that are under 6 months old should be fed a specially formulated puppy food.

If your pup is over 6 months old, you can give a tiny piece of avocado to your pooch and see how he reacts to it. If your pup doesn’t show any unusual symptoms, you can continue giving him avocado as occasional treat and in small quantities.

Can dogs be allergic to avocado?

Dogs can have different types of allergies, like us, humans do. Dogs can be allergic to the traces of persin in the flesh of an avocado. Make sure you start out with a small piece first and then monitor your dog. If everything seems fine and your dog doesn’t show any symptoms of digestive issues, diarrhea or any other unusual behavior, you can continue feeding him avocados.

Can dogs eat avocado skin?

No, dogs shouldn’t be fed the skin. The skin has a hard texture and is difficult to digest it. Remove the skin and any other parts of the avocado except the flesh before giving it to your dog.

Can dogs have avocado oil?

Yes, your dog may eat the oil in moderation. Actually, many commercial dog foods contain avocado oil.

Avocado oil shouldn’t pose any harm to your dog.

Can dogs eat guacamole?

can dogs eat guacamole

No, dogs shouldn’t be eating guacamole. Guacamole is usually made with garlic or onions which are toxic to dogs. You can mash up plain avocado and give it to your dog but don’t feed him guacamole with harmful ingredients.

How to prepare avocado for dogs

Remove the skin, pit, bark, and leaves. Avocado pits are pretty big,  heavy, and pose serious digestive blockages. The peel is hard and scratchy and needs to be removed as well, dogs have a hard time digesting the peel.

Cut the avocado into small sized slices and offer them to your pooch. Make sure the avocado is fresh without brown spots. Monitor your dog afterwards to make sure he is not allergic to the fruit or have any issues digesting it.

What to do if your dog ate too many avocados

Too much of anything is never good. One avocado once in a while is safe to feed to your pooch.

If your dog has eaten too many avocados, you need to monitor your dog carefully. It also depends on what part of the avocado was eaten. If your dog had ingested a pit, you should take him to the vet immediately.

If your dog had eaten the flesh or the peel, make sure to monitor your dog for the next 24 hours. Your dog may most likely experience diarrhea, stomach discomfort or vomiting.

If your pet’s symptoms don’t improve after 24 hours, you should consult with your dog’s veterinarian.

Conclusion

Whether dogs can eat avocados has been a very contentious and much discussed topic. As with any other type of food, research and care should be taken into consideration. Even the most elementary searches on the internet can bring up conflicting opinions.  Using your own common knowledge to decipher the good form the bad, as far as information goes, will help you figure out the best offering for your particular pet.  Verifying your decisions with a veterinarian is also important and he/she can guide you on your way.

It is now generally accepted that the toxin persin, which is found in parts of the avocado tree (but very little in the actual fruit) is not harmful to dogs. However the fact that it can be deadly to many other creatures causes natural concern and alarm amongst many dog owners.  Persin has a reputation as a toxin, and for good reason.  When many types of animals are poisoned, it is a safe bet to avoid the mineral for fear of toxin ingestion in your pet.  However, just because Persin is toxic to one animal does not mean persin is toxic to all animals.  Just as some people and animals like one type of food, others find intolerance and have a reaction.  Persin should not be judged simply based on reputation, but on facts and advice given by your veterinarian.

Regardless of the persin argument, the one thing all dog owners should know is the size of the pit in the center of the fruit is a clear hazard to the dog and can lead to many problems with the digestive system. The pit must be removed if you are thinking of sharing your avocado with your dog.  You would probably not eat the pit yourself, so while you are peeling and pitting the fruit for your own consumption, offer the same respect for your dog and keep their health in mind.

If you wanted to take a safety first, zero risk option then no avocado would be the way forward. All the same you may be denying your companion some of the benefits and health giving qualities found in avocado.  In the event you wish to avoid avocado as a food, you may be able to offer your pet the benefits of the nutrient via supplement.  A supplement may give your dog the pretty hair and skin, and strong immune system, just without the goodness of taste and texture.  Skin treatments and hair washes with avocado extract can be applied topically to your dog, without the fear of toxic ingestion or choking upon a pit. The uses of avocadoes are endless, so with a little effort, you can choose the right measure of avocado for your dog.

 

References:

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-non-toxic-plants/avocado

http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/avocado/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=5

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