Avocados leaves and bark contain a toxin called persin that can make dogs ill.
There are low levels of this toxin in avocado flesh and there is controversy over whether or not dogs can eat this popular fruit.
So are there any benefits to sharing your avocado snack with your dog?
And can dogs eat avocado flesh safely?
If you’re wondering “Can dogs have avocado?” or “Is avocado toxic to dogs?” then we can help answer your questions on this topic.
Interesting Facts About Avocado
The avocado, or Persea americana, can be traced back to Mexico, around 10,000 years ago.
There are three recognized varieties—Mexican, Guatemalan and West Indian.
Each variety can be broken down into different cultivars, with the “Hass” cultivar being one of the most popular. Eighty percent of all cultivated avocados worldwide are Hass avocados. In the U.S., most avocados are grown in California.
Interestingly, the avocado is classified as a single-seeded berry.
Avocado Fat Content
Avocados contain more fat than any other fruit or vegetable. Luckily this is a combination of poly and monounsaturated fats, also known as “good fats.”
Whilst many of us love avocados, is avocado OK for dogs? Or is this fat filled fruit a bad idea?
Let’s take a look at why you might want to add this fruit to your dog’s meals.
Is Fruit Good for Dogs?
Most of us know we should eat a certain amount of fruit and vegetables per day, so it can be tempting to assume that dogs require the same.
Unlike us, dogs don’t require carbohydrates. Despite this, there are some benefits to feeding your dog certain fruits.
Like many fruits, avocados contain antioxidants such as Vitamin E, as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Antioxidants are important to protect our bodies against free radicals, which are shown to contribute to a range of diseases. By eating a diet rich in antioxidants, we can reduce this damage to some degree.
Of course, our beloved dogs are also exposed to free radicals to, and it has been shown that feeding elderly dogs a diet rich in antioxidants can improve cognition when combined with behavioral enrichment.
How Nutritious Are Avocados?
As well as being delicious, avocados are also famous for containing both poly and monounsaturated fats, also known as “good fats.”
Avocados are what are known as a nutrient-dense food because they contain high levels of vitamins and minerals with a relatively low calorific content.
A 50 gram serving of avocado contains only 80 calories, but almost 20 different vitamins and minerals.
Considering all these great benefits, it’s easy to see why we might consider adding avocado to our dog’s diets.
First, though, it’s important to remember that not all of our foods are safe for dogs.
Is Avocado Safe for Dogs?
There’s a lot of conflicting information about the safety or otherwise of feeding avocado to your dog.
Some experts say they’re poisonous, others say they’re perfectly safe in moderation.
The pet poison’s helpline describes avocados as ‘mildly’ poisonous to cats and dogs
An important thing to remember here is that the avocado can be broken down into the tree, bark, leaves and fruit. The fruit can be split into the skin, flesh (or meat) and pit (or seed).
The majority of toxic persin found in avocados is concentrated in the leaves, bark, pit and skin of the avocado. The flesh contains a much lower level, which doesn’t seem to affect dogs.
Much of the controversy around feeding avocado to dogs stems from a study published in 1994 that focused on two dogs that both became ill and later died. A potential cause was they’d both eaten whole avocados and parts of the plant.
More recent studies, notably one conducted in 2012, looked at the safety of feeding an avocado extract to dogs over a six-month period. The extract, fed at up to 1.1 percent of the diet, was a “defatted, water-soluble extract of flesh, skin and pit” of avocados.
It was found that the dogs readily consumed the avocado extract and suffered no adverse health effects.
Is Avocado Bad for Dogs?
You might be worried that due to their high fat content, avocados might not be an appropriate addition to your dog’s diet.
Fats are not bad for dogs, but you do need to speak closely with your veterinarian before making any major changes to your dog’s diet.
A diet that is high in fats has previously been linked to pancreatitis.
A study in 2008 found that dietary indiscretions were more likely to increase the risk of developing pancreatitis such as eating table scraps or raiding the trash can. However, the majority of pancreatitis cases in dogs actually have no known cause.
Is Avocado Good for Dogs?
Due to their high levels of vitamins, fatty acids, fiber and many other nutrients, there’s certainly an argument that eating avocado flesh could benefit your dog.
In fact, Dr, Guy Whitney, from the California Avocado Commission suggests that there can be many positive benefits, saying: “In California, there are around 7,000 family farmers who grow avocados and almost every one has dogs that actively seek out fruit that has fallen from the trees to snack on.
The happy, well-filled out and shiny-coated orchard dog is a familiar sight to anyone in this industry and we have NEVER had a report of a family orchard dog getting sick from eating avocados.”
There are also commercially available dog foods containing avocado meal and oil.
Feeding Your Dog Avocados? Here’s How to Do It Safely
If you like the idea of feeding your dog avocado but are concerned about preparing it yourself, some dog foods are available with avocado included.
AvoDerm Natural dog food contains avocado oil and avocado meal—made from only the flesh of the avocado itself and never from the leaves, stem, bark or seed.
If you like the idea of feeding your dog fresh avocado too, then there are a few considerations you’ll need to keep in mind.
- The leaves, bark, pit and skin is toxic
- The pit is a serious choking hazard
Cut the avocado into small pieces, taking care to remove the pit and skin. Dispose of these in a safe place where your dog cannot access.
Start off with only a small amount of avocado, as any new food has the potential to give your dog an upset tummy.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado Every Day?
Whilst dogs are certainly less susceptible to the effects of the toxin persin than other species such as birds and cows, it’s still not a good idea to feed them excessive amounts of avocado.
Too much may cause your dog to develop a mild case of toxicosis, which could be seen as diarrhea and vomiting.
It’s suggested that Guatemalan avocado varieties are most associated with toxicosis.
So it’s probably best to stick to feeding fresh avocado as an occasional treat only.
If you have made the decision to feed a dog food enriched with avocado then that’s a different matter, as the quantities have been deemed safe for everyday consumption.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats an Avocado Seed?
If you come home to find your fruit bowl on the floor and think “My dog ate avocado,” then try not to panic.
Some dogs will eat the flesh and leave the seed and skin. See if you can find any scraps that might indicate if that’s the case.
The main risk of your dog eating an avocado is that the seed can cause a blockage in its esophagus, stomach or intestines.
So, if you suspect your dog has swallowed an avocado seed, call your vet and ask for advice.
If your dog has eaten a lot of avocados, then he may develop an upset tummy.
Signs to look out for include:
- Lack of stools
Is Avocado Safe for Dogs, in Summary
Avocados are a source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and good fats.
So, is avocado OK for dogs?
Yes, as long as you only feed the flesh of the avocado as a treat every now and again. Choosing a dog food that contains avocado extract is also a great option if you want to feed avocado on a more regular basis.
Your dog’s health relies on a range of factors including a balanced diet, exercise, and a safe and loving home environment.
While some dogs will definitely enjoy an occasional treat of fresh avocado, it shouldn’t necessarily form a regular part of their diet.
References and Further Reading:
“Avocados–Learn All About Avocados,” What’s Cooking America
AvoDerm Natural Dog Food. “Why Avocado?”
Buoro et al., 1994. “Putative avocado toxicity in two dogs,” Onderstepoort Journal of Veterinary Research
California Avocados, “Avocado Nutritional Facts and Health Benefits”
Chen at al., 2008, “Tracing the Geographic Origins on Major Avocado Cultivars,” Journal of Heredity
Davenport et al., 2012, “Tolerance and safety of an avocado-based ingredient for adult dogs,” The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dodds, W.J., 2013, “Avocados–Poisonous to Companion Animals or Not?” Dr. Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource Blog,
Gwaltney-Brant, S., et al., 2018, “Avocado,” Merck Veterinary Manual
Head, E., 2007, “Combining an Antioxidant‐Fortified Diet with Behavioral Enrichment Leads to Cognitive Improvement and Reduced Brain Pathology in Aging Canines,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Landon, A., 2009, “Domestication and Significance of Persea americana, the Avocado, in Mesoamerica,” Nebraska Anthropologist.
Lem et al., 2008, “Associations Between Dietary Factors and Pancreatitis in Dogs,” Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association
Pet Poison Helpline, “Avocado”
Pippa, “Do Dogs Need A Low Fat Diet?” Dogs Net
Watson, P., 2004, “Pancreatitis in the Dog: Dealing with a Spectrum of Disease,” In Practice
Storey, W.B., 1973-74, “What Kind of Fruit Is the Avocado?” California Avocado Society Yearbook 1973–74.