Can Dogs Eat Avocados?
Written by: Alicia Boemi, Dogly Wellness Advocate & Canine Nutritionist
Pet parents are often torn on whether it’s safe to feed avocado fruit to their dog. Rightly so, this human food comes with a lot of misinformation about the health benefits and dangers for dogs eating avocado. Avocados can be consumed by dogs but with a few important safety protocols to follow. Fun fact, avocado fruit is actually part of the berry family because it fits in the botanical criteria for berries. The avocado pit is actually called the avocado seed in botanical circles thus making it fit the description of a berry. Avocados can be a healthy way to boost your dog’s food as it contains healthy good fats, but dog owners must understand all the parts not to feed and how much to feed. We’ll cover the parts of the avocado that are dangerous for your dog to consume so you can avoid any issues, and we’ll discuss how much avocado to feed a dog plus all the health benefits of avocados for dogs.
Are Avocados Safe for Dogs?
While avocados are generally safe to feed your dog, you’ll want to make sure to avoid feeding the avocado pit, skin, and leaves. The avocado pit poses a major choking hazard and can get stuck in your dog’s intestinal tract causing a life-threatening blockage. Also, the avocado pit, skin, and leaves contain a fungicidal substance called persin, which is toxic to dogs. Persin is also found in the avocado flesh but is not as concentrated as it is in the avocado leaves, pit, and skin of the avocado plant. The entire avocado tree contains persin but again, there is less in the avocado flesh itself. This means you’ll want to avoid feeding the avocado pit, skin, and leaves to ensure your dog does not ingest this toxic substance and you avoid any unwanted side effects.
Because persin is present in the flesh of the avocado, pet parents will want to make sure to feed small amounts to their dog as too much avocado can cause gastrointestinal upset. In large amounts, persin can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Be sure to consult your veterinarian if your dog has ingested any parts of the avocado she shouldn’t or is showing signs of gastrointestinal upset after consuming avocado.
Avocado also contains high fat content and calories. Dogs who cannot tolerate additional fat in their diet, or who have pancreatitis, should avoid avocado as a whole. While the fat in avocado is considered healthy fat, dogs who cannot absorb excess fat will be prone to gastrointestinal problems if they consume too much fatty food such as avocado. Also, if your dog is prone to obesity or is trying to lose weight then it might be a good idea to skip the avocado until your pooch’s weight is under control.
What are the Health Benefits of Avocados?
Avocados are a very healthy fruit that are rich in nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, Vitamins A, C, E, and B-complex vitamins. Avocados are most known for their healthy fats content. These beneficial fatty acids found in avocados are not only anti-inflammatory but can also improve heart health. You don’t need a lot of avocado to gain the nutrients from it, for example 1 teaspoon is loaded with folate, beta carotene, lutein, plus the vitamins and minerals mentioned above.
Vitamin E: is a critical vitamin for a dog’s skin and coat health. It also can reduce oxidative stress and cellular damage throughout the body. Vitamin E also supports overall immune system function and lowers inflammatory responses in the body.
Niacin: Niacin, Vitamin B3, is necessary for energy metabolism and aids in continued support for brain function and supporting neurotransmitters. Niacin is a very important vitamin that repairs DNA if it gets damaged.
Lutein: is a carotenoid that is only found in plants. It has many anti-inflammatory properties and can help greatly in improving your dog’s eye health. It’s also been shown to aid or even prevent age-related disease.
Folate: is part of the B Vitamins (B9) and is critical in helping control anemia while supporting the other B Vitamins as they work to support many systems throughout a dog’s body. Folate is necessary to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow and to convert carbohydrates to energy.
Feeding Avocado as a Healthy Treat to Dogs
The best way to feed avocado to your pup as a healthy treat or addition to your dog’s diet is to avoid feeding large amounts of the avocado flesh. Size does matter when it comes to how much food a dog can consume but in this case, large animals should not necessarily eat more avocado. Stick to feeding your dog small amounts and avoid large quantities of avocado whether you add a piece to their dog food or feed it as dog treats.
It’s best to avoid feeding store-bought guacamole as that usually has additives like onion and spices that are not safe to feed to your dog. You can make your dog a high-quality homemade dog-friendly guacamole by mashing avocado and adding in dog-friendly fruits and vegetables. Remember though, keep the portion of avocado you feed on the small side.
Overall, feeding avocado (flesh) to your dog is safe and has many health benefits! Stick to these guidelines we’ve given you so when your dog eats avocado, he will be able to optimally digest and absorb all the nutrient benefits of avocado.