Avocado season is in full swing and they seem to be everywhere. Whether you’re adding avocado to your BLT or fixing a fresh batch of guacamole, it looks like you may have to ignore your dog’s plea to toss some avocado bits in their direction.
Though avocados are a super food for humans, full of potassium, fiber, and healthy fats, avocados aren’t safe for dogs (or cats, for that matter). In addition to all of that good stuff, avocados contain persin, which the ASPCA has noted is toxic to some animals. Persin can damage tissue including the lungs and heart. On top of that, the good fat in avocado that makes your hair shiny (it’s why some people mash them up and use avocado as a hair treatment!) can give pets stomach problems from vomiting to pancreatitis, which can be deadly if not treated promptly. The giant seed at the center of the avocado can also cause problems, both as a chocking hazard and as something that dogs can’t digest.
Though some veterinarians in San Diego County have noted that they see dogs that eat avocados without much adverse effect beyond weight gain, in general most vets recommend your dog steer clear of avocados. One reason for this could be that these pets are eating locally grown avocado, and the ASPCA notes that the fruit grown in Guatemala has been found to be the most problematic. It’s also important to know that while dogs and cats might be able to handle avocado, other animals—notably horses and some kinds of birds including canaries, parakeets, parrots, and chickens—are highly susceptible to persin toxicity and should never be given avocado.
The avocado prohibition has been controversial—some pet owners swear by the powers of this super food, and insist that it is good for dogs. Some pet foods do include small amounts of avocado oil as an ingredient, but this does not present a threat to pets. Winding up with a stomach obstruction from the pit or peel is a bigger problem, and one that should be avoided. While your dog won’t necessarily be hurt by the avocado fruit itself, given the likelihood of weight gain, there are better treats out there for your pooch!