Avocado is a popular health food these days. Avocado toast, avocado fries, guacamole … it’s everywhere. And when we humans find a food we like to eat, our dogs are often nearby, hopefully wondering if they’re going to get a bite. But is it okay to share this fruit with your dog?
It’s not that simple. The answer is yes … and no. Some parts of the avocado fruit contain a fungicidal toxin that can harm your dog, while other parts are safe for him to eat. There are many opposing beliefs about avocados … from “they’ll kill your dog” to “my dog eats them every day.” So read on to get the truth about avocados for dogs.
Avocados Are Nutritional Powerhouses
For people, avocados provide many health benefits. They’re full of vitamins and minerals. They’re nutrient dense, high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and fiber. Avocados are free of salt, sugar and cholesterol. They boost the absorption of vitamins A, D, K and E. And they’re creamy, making them a great first food for babies.
- Monounsaturated fats
- Polyunsaturated fats
- Dietary fiber
- Panthothenic acid
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Carotenoids lutein + zeaxanthin
Avocados are full of antioxidants that protect against free radicals.
The Truth About Avocado For Dogs
It’s fine to share some parts of the avocado with your dog, but not the whole fruit. So let’s break it down.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado Skin And Pits?
No, dogs shouldn’t eat avocado skin or the avocado pit. Avocado skins contain persin, which is a natural fungicide. Persin can be harmful to dogs, and is found in higher concentrations in the pit and leaves of avocados. Avocado pits also have persin … and they can also be a dangerous choking hazard for your dog, possibly causing esophageal, intestinal or bowel obstruction.
Persin In Avocados
The amount of persin in an avocado plant varies with the part of the plant. The highest concentrations of persin in avocado trees are in the avocado leaves, then in the skin. Avocado flesh contains only low amounts of persin, so it’s safe for most dogs.
Some dogs aren’t affected much by persin. These are the dogs who steal avocados off the kitchen counter, eat them whole and suffer no ill effects. But other dogs are more sensitive to persin, Because of this, nobody really knows how much persin dogs can tolerate, so it’s best for dogs to avoid the skins and pits completely.
You want to be sure avocado pits and skin are safely hidden away from your dog, especially if he’s sneaky. If he’s super sneaky and gets into the trash, make sure it’s out of reach … or invest in a dog-proof trash can. And if you leave avocados ripening on the counter, put them high up out of your dog’s reach or even inside a cabinet!
What To Do If Your Dog Eats Avocado Skin Or Pit
If you suspect your dog ate avocado skin or pit, keep an eye on him for signs of avocado toxicity, and call your vet if you notice any signs of poisoning.
What Are Symptoms Of Avocado Poisoning?
Some of the common symptoms of avocado poisoning include:
- Upset stomach
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Constipation or difficulty passing stools
- Abdominal pain
If you notice these symptoms, or you know your dog ate some avocado skin or pit, it’s a good idea to call your vet for advice. If he swallowed a pit whole, your dog could need emergency surgery for intestinal or bowel obstruction.
As you’ve likely realized by now, it’s safe for most dogs to have some avocado flesh … in moderation. There’s not much persin in avocado flesh, so it can be a filling snack for him with some good health benefits. Avocado oil doesn’t contain persin, so you can use that safely to cook for your dog or add to food.
Benefits Of Avocados For Dogs
Avocados provide your dog with all the nutrients listed above that make them so good for humans. In fact, pet food manufacturers understand the marketing appeal of avocados. So they’re putting avocado meal or avocado oil in some commercial dog foods to make you think the food is good for your dog.
If your dog has arthritis, avocado could help improve his mobility. Studies have shown that avocado in avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) helped reduce symptoms of knee arthritis.
Avocado can also help …
- Boost skin health
- Promote coat health
- Support eye health
- Improve wound healing
- Help absorb nutrients like carotenoids and other fat soluble vitamins
So avocado can definitely be a healthy food for your dog. But don’t go overboard … you can easily overdo avocado for your dog, because it’s such a fatty food.
Avocados have an abundance of healthy fats. About 15% of an avocado is fat. The fat in an avocado is almost 70% oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Monounsaturated fats can lower the risk of heart disease and help control blood glucose levels. But high fat is also a reason to limit the amount of avocado your dog eats.
You want to limit fat in your dog’s diet to about 10% of total nutrients. So if you give him avocado sometimes, make sure you’re feeding him very lean meats. Then you can afford to give him some fatty avocado with its wealth of nutrients.
There’s also a risk your dog could develop pancreatitis from the high fat content in avocados, if he eats too much of this rich treat.
How To Give Your Dog Avocado
Choose ripe avocado for your dog. It’s not as important to buy organic avocados as it is other fruit. Avocados top the Environmental Working Group’s Clean Fifteen list of produce that’s lowest in pesticides. In 2021, fewer than 2% of avocados tested had any detectable pesticides.
Remove the flesh and get rid of the skin and pit before your dog has a chance to grab them. Then you can cut up the flesh and give him small pieces as a treat, or add a little to his food.
Watch him for signs of stomach upset and stop feeding avocado if you notice any sensitivity or allergic reaction.
So … avocado can provide your dog with some good fatty acids and other nutrients, but stick to small amounts.
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