Avocado is a wonderfully healthy food for humans, making numerous “healthiest foods” lists. As pet owners know, though, not everything that’s good for humans is good for canines.
It’s hard to resist those eyes that beg for just one bite, though. And what if you’re cutting up an avocado and a piece slips to the floor, only to be quickly scooped up by your pup? Should you be worried? The short answer: no.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
Peeled and pitted, avocados are fine for dogs to eat and may even provide some health benefits.
“Avocados do have some anti-inflammatory fat in them. It’s generally a healthy food, so in small quantities, there’s nothing wrong with them,” said Dr. Susan Wynn, DVM, CVA and veterinarian in the integrative medicine and nutrition department at Blue Pearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital in Georgia.
Dr. Steve Barghusen, DVM, a veterinarian at Pet Crossing Animal Hospital & Dental Clinic in Minnesota, agreed, noting that avocados are a source of many nutrients such as healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. However, both veterinarians agree that avocados aren’t really something a dog must have in his or her diet.
“A dog that is on a high quality, properly formulated diet should not need any additional nutrients from other sources,” Barghusen says.
According to Wynn, the fruit should be treated as more as a supplement to a dog’s diet than part of a meal.
“If [your dog likes the taste of avocado], you have to think about it as any other treat,” she says. “The general rule for dogs is that a treat should be the size of a blueberry. Because dogs generally don’t chew [and swallow treats] whole, they don’t care how much they get, they care how many they get.”
Multiple dog foods even contain avocado for its health benefits. AvoDerm Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula dog food is rich in high-quality fats and oils, as well as omega-6 and 3, from avocado for skin and coat support from the inside out.
Potential Side Effects of Giving Your Dog Avocado
Although the flesh of an avocado is okay for a dog to eat, he or she should never be given the pit, Barghusen said. “The pit is probably the most dangerous part since it can cause gastric or intestinal blockage due to its size and density,” he says. “Vomiting is the chief sign associated with GI obstruction.”
Another potential problem that can be associated with giving your dog avocado has to do with the amount of fat in them.
“The high fat content in avocados has the potential to trigger pancreatitis, which can be a severe and even a life-threatening problem,” Barghusen says. He also said that persin, a toxin in avocados, could potentially cause gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting in dogs.
Even though avocado is fairly safe for dogs, keep in mind that it can be toxic or harmful for other animals in or around your house. According to the ASPCA, avocado can be toxic to horses, birds, goats and rabbits.
If you have questions about your dog’s diet, be sure to talk to your veterinarian, who can help you determine the best diet for your dog.
Elizabeth Xu is an Ohio-based freelance writer focusing on pets and travel.