Updated - Sep 23rd, 2020
Avocado is not a recommended snack for dogs, but if they eat a small amount accidentally it could be pretty harmless.
For us humans, avocados are a superfood — full of health benefits like fiber, vitamins A, vitamin E, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids just to name a few. No wonder we love our avocado toast! But is it a healthy option for our pups, too?
Many vegetables and fruits are OK for dog parents to share with their pooches, and some of them are even recommended because of the healthy nutrients they offer. Unfortunately, avocados are not one of them. Learn which parts of the avocado are considered the most dangerous and what steps to take if your dog chows down on one
Why isn’t avocado a healthy snack for my dog?
Avocado trees contain a fungicidal toxin called persin. This toxin is more concentrated in the pit and skin of an avocado, but there are some low levels contained in the flesh as well. Persin is considered only mildly toxic to dogs, but depending on how much was consumed, it can cause an upset stomach, vomiting or diarrhea.
Because of the avocado’s high fat content, it can also cause pancreatitis in dogs. Pancreatitis means inflammation of the pancreas, and it can produce symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, fever, lethargy, and a decreased appetite. Some dogs are more prone to pancreatitis than others, and if it’s a severe case, your dog may need to be hospitalized for supportive care.
Avocados have a large pit, which can be a choking hazard and can also cause a blockage inside your dog’s body. Because of the fibrous nature of the pit, dogs can’t digest them easily and instead may develop an obstruction in their intestinal tract. If this happens, it can become life-threatening – the only way to remove the obstruction may be through surgery.
Which part of an avocado is the most dangerous for my dog to eat?
The pit is the most concerning portion of the avocado. Aside from being a choking hazard and potentially causing intestinal obstructions, avocado pits also contain a more concentrated amount of persin than the flesh.
What should I do if my dog eats avocado?
Don’t panic! Depending on which part of the fruit your dog ate and how much, they may be just fine. Let’s dig into the details.
- Flesh: Since the avocado flesh is only mildly toxic to dogs – if your pooch eats a small amount, they’re more than likely going to be OK. That said, keep an eye on them for about 24-48 hours after eating avocado flesh, and report any vomiting, diarrhea, or decreased appetite to your veterinarian so these symptoms can be treated.
- Skin: Avocado skin does have a higher concentration of persin than the flesh, but it’s still considered only mildly toxic to dogs. The skin of an avocado doesn’t carry as much fat, which means it’s less likely to cause pancreatitis in your dog than if the flesh is eaten. However, if your pup does eat avocado skin, make sure you monitor for any vomiting or diarrhea. If these symptoms occur, it’s a good idea to contact your veterinarian.
- Pit: If your dog eats a pit, it’s possible they’ll be able to pass it through their system with some irritation of the stomach and intestinal tract. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know whether they’ll be able to pass it or whether it will become a blockage in their intestines. It’s best to contact your local veterinarian for recommendations soon after the pit is ingested. If you notice your dog is vomiting, straining to poop, in pain or acting lethargic, have them examined by a veterinarian right away.
Can I feed my dog avocado?
Because of the possibility of mild toxicity, pancreatitis, or an intestinal obstruction from the pit, you shouldn’t feed avocados to your dog. Most pups love sneaking human food, and if your dog wolfs down a piece of avocado flesh from the floor before you can stop them, they’ll most likely be just fine — especially if you monitor them for any of the symptoms outlined above.
What if my dog eats avocado oil?
While no type of oil should be given to dogs in large quantities due to their high fat content, avocado oil doesn’t contain any persin and is considered completely non-toxic to dogs. The same goes for avocado meal — avocado flesh that has been dried and ground — which is an ingredient commonly used in avocado-enriched pet foods, such as AvoDerm.
What if my dog eats guacamole?
If your sneaky pup gets into some guacamole, the fatty acids from the avocado can still cause pancreatitis. Many types of guacamole also contain onions or garlic, which are both highly toxic to dogs. If your dog eats even a small amount of guacamole containing onions or garlic, take him to the vet as soon as possible.
If your dog eats any ingredients you think may be toxic (avocado included!), it’s also a good idea to contact the ASPCA pet poison helpline. They can accurately answer any questions you might have about side effects and symptoms, and will let you know if your pup needs immediate medical attention.
What fruits and vegetables can I feed my dog instead?
Thankfully, there are lots of other very safe options if you’re looking to supplement your dog’s diet with veggies. Some nutritious options include: carrots, celery, green beans, and peas. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage can also be shared with your dog, but should be given in very small amounts only since they can cause gas and some stomach irritation in dogs.
Fruits can also be offered as healthy treats in moderation. Most fruit has a high sugar content, so you should never feed large amounts or offer them too regularly. Some dog-safe fruits include: apples, bananas, blueberries, cantaloupe, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, strawberries, and watermelon. Make sure you’re removing the core, pit, and seeds from all your fruits before offering them to your dog.
All of these dog-friendly fruits and veggies offer many different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can be great supplements when given with high-quality dog food. With so many nutritious and delicious options, your pup won’t miss avocados one bit!