Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
The Essential Guide
Avocado's are everywhere and Aussies love it, but can dogs eat them too? The answer isn’t so simple, especially since the avocado plant could also be potentially dangerous to your dog.
Here’s what experts have to say about dogs eating avocado.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
As with other questions regarding human foods, the answer depends on your dog and how much they eat. According to research, avocado trees, their leaves and to a lesser extent the fruit, have a chemical compound that’s toxic to animals. This includes cats, mice, rats, rabbits and horses, but also dogs. However, small amounts of avocado pulp tend to be safe.
Overall, avocado in very small amounts is safe for dogs and can offer some good nutrients. However, never give whole avocados to your dog, since they risk asphyxiation.
The Risk Of Eating Avocados For Dogs
Avocado trees have a toxic compound
Like other plants, avocado trees (Persea americana) have certain compounds that act as a natural defence. In avocados, this compound is Persin, a fungicidal toxin. Persin is found in both the fruit –pit and skin- and plant leaves. In general, feeding avocados to any non-human animal should be generally avoided. Nowadays, researchers don’t know the specific lethal dose of persin, but as a rule of thumb non-human animals should only eat it sparingly.
In large doses, persin can trigger fluid accumulation in the lungs, making breathing harder. In some cases, persin can cause death.
The pits can be very dangerous
On top of its chemical composition, the main danger of dogs eating avocados is the pit. If eaten whole or crushed, avocado pits will cause intestinal blockage. This is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate vet assistance and might involve getting the pit surgically removed.
To stay on the safe side, keep whole avocados and avocado pits away from your dog.
PRO TIP. If your dog likes avocados already, make sure to adequately dispose of the pits. They might try to eat them if they have the chance! This means getting a secure trash can and keeping your dog away from trash bags when they’re out.
Avocados offer great nutritional value
Avocados are popular because they are rich in nutrients with known health benefits in humans. Due to its nutritional value, small amounts of avocado fruit won’t harm your dog.
From a nutritional standpoint, avocados offer different nutrients that are difficult to come by. These include healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, vitamins C, B6, B3, E, and A, and antioxidants. Because of it, some dog food brands include small amounts of avocado in their recipes.
Excessive avocado consumption can lead to pancreatitis
Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. Since it’s difficult to diagnose, many dogs spend a long time with the condition. If left untreated, pancreatitis can be fatal.
One of the biggest causes of pancreatitis is excessive fat in the diet. Because of it, avocados aren’t recommended for dogs with a history of this condition, or overweight pups. According to research, dogs that eat a high-fat, low-protein diet have a higher pancreatitis risk, so avoid feeding avocado every day even to healthy dogs.
Dogs can develop an avocado allergy
As with other human foods, it’s common for dogs to develop allergies to food they eat consistently. Keep an eye out for allergy signs if you tend to offer human foods to your pup. Most dog allergies start with skin reactions, including itching, rashes, or hair loss. However, your dog might also show other signs like sneezing, coughing, gastrointestinal distress and hives. If your dog starts acting in an unusual way after eating avocado, take them to the vet immediately.
PRO TIP: Before giving avocado to your dog, ask your vet for advice.
PRO TIP: If your pet ingests an avocado pit, contact your vet right away.
PRO TIP: For dogs that tend to go through the trash, consider investing in a dog-proof trash can.
How To Recognise Avocado Poisoning In Dogs
Avocado poisoning due to persin toxicity is relatively uncommon. To have it, your dog would need to eat at least a whole avocado, if not more. However, if you think that’s the case, or you caught your pup munching on avocado leaves, it might be an issue.
In high doses, persin causes acute respiratory syndrome (asphyxia). The symptoms include:
- Trouble breathing
- Eventually, fluid around the heart and death
After eating a lot of avocado or the whole plant, watch your pup for the following 24-48 hours. If they show any of the above symptoms, take them to the vet as soon as possible.
As a general rule, many vets don’t recommend letting dogs eat avocado. However, if you want to feed it to your dog, only offer the flesh in small quantities. On the other hand, keep avocado plants and pits out of your dog’s reach. In general, this is a treat that should be reserved for humans instead!
Want to learn more about what types of food dogs can and can't eat? Check out our below guides:
- What Food Can't Dogs Eat?
- Can Dogs Eat Tomatoes?
- Can Dogs Eat Grapes?
- Can Dogs Eat Raw Chicken?
- Can Dogs Eat Peanut Butter?
- Can Dogs Eat Cheese?
- Can Dogs Eat Mushrooms?
- Bissonnette, S et al. Common Household Foods that Should Not be Given to Dogs or Cats. https://selkirkvet.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Foods_that_Should_Not_Be_Given_to_Pets_2014.pdf
- Bertero, A., et al. (2021). Plants and zootoxins: toxico-epidemiological investigation in domestic animals. Toxicon. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0041010121000982?casa_token=CHMwlxlqUZ4AAAAA:eGaIDH9KkCv_5nOUSE3sn5B-Hypso8QqgdFw7AkdBOMzwsX_1eAeZAfJJmHQgVXYHteDR6vGfbs
- Kovalkovičová, N., et al. (2009). Some food toxic for pets. Interdisciplinary toxicology, 2(3), 169. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/8485214.pdf