Avocados are considered to be a superfood with many people touting the benefits of eating an avocado a day. If you want to share this goodness with your pooch, you’ve most likely done a bit of research online, which provides conflicting evidence. Some sites say that dogs shouldn’t eat avocados at all, while others contain avocado-based recipes for dogs. So what’s the real deal with avocados? Should you be feeding avocado to your dog?
The root of this controversy is a compound found in avocados called persin. Persin is a fungicide and is known to be very toxic to goats, sheep, and other ruminants. In high doses it can cause damage to these animals’ heart muscles. It can even be fatal. However, most of the studies done on the toxicity of persin have been conducted in ruminants, and dogs are considered to be more resistant to persin than other animals. Persin is most concentrated in the skin and leaves of the avocado plant, while the flesh contains a very small amount, especially in ripe avocado fruit.
In addition to containing persin, avocados are also high in fat, which can lead to the development of pancreatitis in dogs. All told, it’s very important to speak with your vet about whether or not an avocado is a suitable addition to your dog’s diet. They’ll be able to advise you on the safety aspects (in light of your dog’s breed, weight, age, etc.) as well as provide you with more comprehensive guidelines regarding how (if at all) to feed your dog avocado safely.
If you want to err on the side of caution, you can simply avoid giving your dog any avocado at all. There are many other fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs and contain many of the same nutrients as avocados. However, avocados do contain high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that form part of a dog’s healthy diet.
How to Feed Avocado to Your Dog Safely
Always make sure that your dog eats avocado under your supervision. If you love avocados and have many of them lying around the house, be sure to store them in a place that your dog can’t get to. While you can control their portion and what part of the fruit they eat, they can’t, and leaving avocados lying around can lead to a trip to the vet.
When you feed your dog avocado, make sure that the fruit is fully ripened. Fully ripened avocado flesh contains minimal amounts of persin. You can also opt to buy avocado cultivars that are known to contain less persin. Avoid giving your dog the skin or pit to eat. The skin contains a much higher amount of persin, while the pit is a very serious choking hazard.
Start by feeding your dog a small amount of avocado in the beginning. Some dogs may find avocados too fatty, resulting in diarrhea. Other dogs may be at risk of developing pancreatitis, especially if you feed them fatty foods regularly. After feeding your dog avocado, keep an eye on them for any signs of gastric distress for the next 48 hours. If you see any signs of vomiting, abdominal discomfort or diarrhea, take your dog to the vet immediately.
If you have an avocado tree on your property, be sure to monitor your dog around the tree. Some dogs love to chew on the tree bark, which contains a large amount of persin. It’s a good idea to prevent your dog from getting near the tree. As an extra precaution, trim the tree so that leaves and stems are high off the ground.
What About Avocado Oil?
Avocado oil contains many of the same benefits as avocado flesh, including high concentrations of fatty acids and vitamins that can help reduce inflammation and keep your dog healthy. Avocado oil is traditionally made from the flesh of the avocado. Thus, it will contain relatively low quantities of persin.
The main concern with feeding your dog avocado oil is its high-fat content. While it may be good for your dog’s skin and joints, you need to feed it to them in very small amounts. As with avocado pulp, be sure to monitor your dog to make sure that they’re not in any type of gastric distress after feeding.
Avocados contain a wide range of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and fiber, but feeding avocados to dogs is controversial. While dogs appear to be resistant to persin, some owners may prefer to err on the side of caution and not feed their dogs avocado at all.
If you decide the health benefits outweigh the risks, be sure to discuss the situation with your vet beforehand. They’ll be able to advise you on the best course of action for your particular dog.
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