For decades, avocado has been considered toxic to dogs and many veterinarians and animal associations have recommended dog parents to avoid it completely.
However, a 2012 study proves that avocado toxicity in dogs is a myth, and people can safely feed avocado flesh to their dogs as an occasional treat.
The amount of persin, a natural fungicide, found in the avocado flesh is harmless to dogs; however, it’s the leaves, pit and skin that can cause problems if ingested.
So, is the avocado on the list of safe fruits for dogs? Keep reading to find out more about how to feed avocado to your dog and why the leaves, pit, and avocado skin should never be given to dogs.
Is avocado good for dogs?
Yes, but only the flesh of the avocado can be safely fed to dogs.
The avocado tree and fruit contain persin, a natural fungicide that can be toxic to dogs. However, the highest concentrations of persin are found in inedible parts such as the avocado leaves, skin, and pit, and very little in the avocado flesh.
That being said, you can give avocado to your dog and share the healthy benefits of this nutritious superfood, but make sure you only feed the avocado flesh without the peel.
My dog Pax is crazy about avocados and interestingly, he knows exactly what is good for him. When he finds an avocado fallen from a tree, he skillfully eats the inside and leaves the peel and pit behind.
Here is a little video of him enjoying his favourite fruit:
Health benefits of avocado for dogs
If you look at the nutritional profile of the avocado, there’s little surprise that it has become one of the most popular additions to our diets and why it would be a great snack for our dogs, too.
Avocados are composed of 70% oleic acid, an essential fatty acid that supports the cardiovascular system and the heart, helps to reduce bad cholesterol levels in the blood, increases the absorption of carotenoids and lowers inflammation.
But that’s not all — aside from healthy fats, avocados also contain high amounts of essential nutrients such as:
Potassium: maintains healthy muscle and heart contractions, supports optimal nervous function, and balances electrolytes.
FIY, avocados are a better source of potassium and have much less sugar per serving than bananas, another healthy snack you can add to your dog's diet.
Vitamin B9 (Folate): regulates metabolic processes such as red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis and repair, cell division and tissue growth
Vitamin B6: supports healthy nervous and cardiovascular function and regulates hormones
Carotenoids (α-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, β-carotene): have powerful natural antioxidant effects, promote optimal eye and joint health
Fibre: supports the growth of good bacteria in the gut and improves digestive health
How to safely feed your dog avocado
Feeding avocado to your dog is similar to feeding it to a child. Remove the skin and pit first and cut the flesh into small cubes or slices. There are some exceptions, like my dog Pax, who never eats the peel and pit, but I suggest you never feed the whole avocado.
You can also mash some avocado and spread it onto a lick mat or put the mix inside a Kong Toy to make your dog’s snack time more entertaining.
Feed avocado in moderation as you would with any fruit or veggie you add to your dog’s diet. Remember: regardless of how healthy the food is, too much of anything good can have the opposite effect.
How many avocados can a dog have?
Depending on your dog's size, the amount of avocado your dog can eat will vary but take the same approach as you would eating avocados.
If you want to add more vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients to your dog’s diet, treats such as fruits or veggies are not enough mainly due to soil and nutrient depletion.
Natural nutritional supplements for dogs can help cover all your dog’s nutritional needs and treat deficiencies to avoid premature aging and health issues.
If you don’t know where to start, you can try the Healthy Dog Tool and get a free personalized supplement plan with recommendations and dosage.
What are the risks of dogs eating avocados?
The avocado pit represents a serious choking and gastrointestinal obstruction hazard for dogs. If ingested, the pit may get stuck in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and need to be surgically removed. If your dog eats an avocado pit, please refer to this article on how to prevent surgery if your dog swallows a foreign object.
As mentioned above, the leaves and skin of the avocado contain a high quantity of persin and can lead to diarrhea and vomiting in dogs if eaten by mistake.
Some dog parents may also be concerned about the risk of pancreatitis when feeding avocados. While avocados contain a significant amount of healthy fats, they also contain lipase, an enzyme that breaks down fat.
In fact, a diet high in carbohydrates and grains is more likely to cause pancreatitis in dogs than a high-fat diet. That’s why pancreatitis is more prevalent in dogs fed a kibble diet.
Interesting avocado facts you didn’t know about
Ancient superfood: Avocados have been around for thousands of years and were a staple in the diet of the ancient Aztecs and Mayans, dating back to 500 B.C. These civilizations considered avocados as a symbol of love and fertility because the fruit grows in pairs.
Name origin: The word avocado comes from the Aztec word “ahuácatl,” which was altered to "aguacate" and "palta" by Spanish conquistador and chronicler, Pedro de Cieza de Leon, who wrote about Peru between 1532 and 1550.
Historical trade routes: The Spanish conquistadors were responsible for bringing avocados to Europe in the 16th century. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that avocados began to gain popularity outside of Central and South America.
The Hass variety: The most popular variety of avocados, the Hass, was discovered by chance by Rudolph Hass, a postman from California, in the 1920s. He patented the variety in 1935, revolutionizing the avocado industry in the decades to follow.
Celebratory day: National Avocado Day is celebrated on July 31st in the US and highlights the growing popularity of the fruit and its impact on international food culture.
Can dogs eat avocados - FAQ
● Is avocado safe for dogs to eat?
Yes, you can safely feed your dog avocado, but only the flesh. Always remove the skin and pit as these contain high levels of persin, a toxin that causes severe gastrointestinal problems in dogs.
● How much avocado can a dog eat?
Depending on your dog's size, the amount of avocado your dog can eat will vary but it’s best to take the same approach as you would eating avocados. I don’t recommend feeding avocados every day and it shouldn’t exceed more than 10-15% of the overall meal amount.
● Will a small piece of avocado hurt my dog?
No, giving your dog a small piece of avocado won’t cause any side effects. Many dogs love the taste and texture of avocado, and this fruit can help keep their skin, coat and heart in healthy shape.
● Is avocado poisonous to dogs?
The avocado peel, leaves, and pits contain high amounts of persin, which can be toxic to dogs and cause gastrointestinal issues if ingested. However, avocado flesh is safe for dogs and has several health benefits, including optimal heart and brain function, healthy skin and coat, and better digestion.
● What happens if my dog eats avocado?
If your dog steals a few slices of avocado from your plate without you noticing, you shouldn’t worry, as avocado is rich in healthy fats and fibres that help with their skin, coat and gut health. However, eating too much avocado at once can cause diarrhea in some dogs.
● Can dogs eat guacamole?
You can offer your dog a small amount of guacamole if it doesn’t contain onions or hot peppers. A small amount of garlic is also safe. However, if you want to feed your dog avocado, plain fruit is the best choice.
● Can dogs have avocado oil?
Yes, avocado oil is safe for dogs in moderation. If you feed your dog cooked meals, you can use avocado oil as an alternative to olive or coconut oil.