Can Dogs Eat Avocados?
We all know that onions are dangerous for cats and dogs, but avocado flesh is not dangerous for cats and dogs.
Avocados Contain Persin
Avocados contain persin which is harmless to dogs and cats, but fatally toxic to birds even in the smallest quantities. Horses, cows, goats, sheep and other large animals are also susceptible to poisoning from persin. If they eat enough avocado or avocado leaves, they could develop inflammation and swelling of the mammary glands, mouth, head, neck, chest and heart.
Naturally, dogs and cats eat only the fleshy contents of the avocado and leave the skins and stones as they intuitively know these are toxic. Theoretically, the high fat content of avocado could cause extra work for the pancreas and digestive system, possibly contributing to pancreatitis. But because the fats in avocado are completely natural and raw, they contain the lipases required for their easy digestion and actually contribute greatly to the ease of digestion of all fats.
The main problem with avocados for dogs is the stone!
The main challenge with avocados and dogs is the tendency to play with the stone as a ball. Whilst great fun, it is all too easy for the stone to be accidentally swallowed, blocking the oesophagus (and potentially squashing the trachea), the intestines or the exit from the stomach.
This would be an acute problem requiring urgent surgical attention by your veterinarian. The pressure of the stone on the trachea (windpipe) could even prevent breathing. If this happens, quickly feel the stone through your dog’s skin and squeeze below it to push it gently back into the mouth from where it can be easily removed.
In all my 40 years as a vet, I have never seen this, but in the UK, avocados don’t grow, so they’re not found lying around for those inquisitive noses! However, I have done exactly this manoeuvre to remove a potato from the oesophagus of a cow. She belched and burped appreciatively immediately the potato was released.
In fact, the pressure from her ruminal fermentation gas was such that as soon as I had squeezed the potato up to her throat, it shot out of her mouth like a bullet. Seriously impressive! As is always my motto, prevention is better than cure ... so don’t use the avocado stone as a ball!
Avocados supply fats and proteins - very important for dogs and cats
Benefits Of Feeding Avocado
The benefits of feeding avocado are huge! It is a fabulous source of nutrients, especially fats and protein, two of the most important sources of energy for dogs and cats. In fact, approximately 75% of the fats in avocados are monounsaturated, with the remaining 25% split equally between polyunsaturated and saturated fats, so an all round healthy option.
Surprisingly, avocados are a good source of fibre, well disguised in their creamy texture. Being naturally free of sugar, sodium (salt) and cholesterol, this fat rich fruit can increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D, K and E. But don’t worry, avocados contain zero vitamin A, so there’s no risk of the osteoporosis caused by fish liver oils’ excess vitamin A.
Maybe because they grow only in hot sunny climates, there is also no vitamin D or calcium in avocados. The local people and animals get all the vitamin D they need from the sun to keep their bones, muscles and skin strong and healthy. However, virtually all the B vitamins are present in avocados, along with vitamins C, E and K.
There are many minerals too, including iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese. And one very important pair of micronutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, is found in avocados. The other great source of these two potent, eye friendly antioxidants is tomatoes.
Maybe that’s why guacamole is such a favourite. These two antioxidants are extremely important in preventing cataracts and macular degeneration. Interestingly, they also help to maintain the health of the skin, offering some protection from sunburn. Very appropriate given the climate in which they grow.
So in summary, avocados are a very healthy choice to feed your dog and cats. They form a very large part of the diet of our vegan cats and dogs (and humans!) here in Colombia.