Do an online search for, “can dogs eat avocado?” You’re going to get a good mix of yeses and nos on your results page. So can dogs have avocado or not?!
Dogs can eat avocado flesh, if they like it, without problems. The reason some say not to give avocados to dogs is because avocados are known to contain a toxin called persin, which is quite dangerous to other animals like horses and birds but is in fact harmless to dogs in small amounts. Avocados hold the highest concentrations of persin in their leaves, thick skin, and pits; avocado flesh contains low levels of this chemical – a negligible amount for most humans, and for most dogs too. We don’t eat the leaves, skin, or pits of avocados, so don’t give these to your dog. A few thin slices of fresh avocado over your dog’s dinner, or as a nutrient-rich treat, however, will be fine for your dog, unless of course he has a food allergy to it.
If you happen to live in the right climate and have access to avocado trees, whether on your property, a neighbor’s property, or out in the community, you are probably already aware of dogs’ tolerance to the fruit. Dogs will munch happily on avocados, usually avoiding the skin and pits on their own (both parts are notoriously tough and hard, and probably don’t taste very good). This doesn’t mean you should let your avocado-eating dog scarf them down unsupervised, however. Avocado pits present a serious choking hazard to dogs, and some do try to chew or swallow them.
Even if you know your dog only tries to eat the avocado flesh, you should still limit the amount of avocado your dog gets. Too much avocado can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs (and people) – vomiting, diarrhea, or sometimes both. One avocado should be fine for a medium-size dog, but two or three in a day? That is too many avocados for a dog.
Keep in mind the nutritional make-up of avocados. One medium-size avocado contains roughly 320 calories and 29 grams of fat. Yes, it’s the “good” fat, but it is still fat that must count towards your dog’s daily nutritional intake. Therefore, a dog who needs to lose weight, or has pancreatitis, should not eat avocados (consult your vet, as always).
Commercial Avocado Dog Food
What about avocado dog food? A growing number of pet food companies are marketing avocado oil and avocado meal as healthy components of their dog and cat foods. Neither avocado oil nor avocado meal (avocado “meal” is avocado flesh that had been dried and ground) contain persin, and both are completely safe for dogs.
Is avocado dog food somehow healthier than other high-quality packaged dog food?
As with any commercial dog food, you need to feed a product to your dog and watch his response over a few days or weeks to determine if an avocado-based dog food is right for your dog. If you see the onset of any diarrhea, vomiting, itching, or any other adverse response, switch back to a food he has previously eaten without an adverse response. But keep in mind that it may or may not have been the avocado present in the food that caused his reaction; avocado oil or meal typically makes up a small percentage of the ingredients in the foods that contain it.