Nowadays, it seems to be more trendy than ever to eat avocados, and they’re winging their way into more and more of our meals as time goes on.
A treat for foodies indeed – but for pets, not so much. While human beings can eat avocados quite happily with no ill effects, there are complications that a responsible pet owner simply has to keep in mind.
Can dogs eat avocados, then? It’s certainly not advisable – read on to find out why.
Are avocados good for dogs?
In the strictest sense, no. A responsible dog owner is much better off avoiding feeding dogs avocados, and instead looking to more reliable and less exotic fruit and vegetables if you’re looking to boost the vitamins and antioxidants present in your pooch.
Many experts are correct in saying that dogs have a little more resistance and resilience to the untoward parts of avocados than other animals.
However, they’re still best avoided, because although your dog would likely make it through accidentally being given avocado or guacamole by someone well-meaning, this foodstuff is still safest if left entirely off the menu for pets altogether.
The risk is somewhat higher in today’s society, where avocados and people enjoying them seem more numerous than ever.
It’s likely your dog has never encountered an avocado before, especially if yours is a puppy or a young dog, and it’s only natural they will be curious and intrigued by any potential new treat that they come across.
But it’s highly advisable to dissuade your dog from avocados altogether wherever possible.
There is a toxin present in the fruit and the other parts of the plant altogether that can make your pet incredibly poorly – and in the worst case scenario, can potentially prove fatal too.
And that’s before you consider the other risks of feeding avocado to your dog, which we’ll dive into all the more as we go.
Dangers of avocados for dogs
Because it’s now easier than ever for dogs to get hold of avocados by mistake – they’re everywhere in modern dieting and dining habits – responsible dog owners are advised to be extra cautious when taking their pet out and about.
This is especially the case if you know anyone who, through no fault of their own, is prone to handing tidbits to your pooch of all kinds of food without considering how an animal might react to it.
While humans are safe in enjoying avocados, animals run the risk of falling afoul of a toxin called persin.
By and large, dogs prove more resistant to persin than any other animals, but that certainly doesn’t get them off the hook in eating avocados – it just means that a dog eating avocado by accident might not be in as immediate danger.
Persin has a nasty effect on the animals that ingest it though, which is why dogs should avoid eating avocado.
Persin is found throughout the plant, in the fruit as well as the steam and the seeds and pits of an avocado.
At its worst, persin can cause heart failure and mastitis in dogs and other animals, and in especially bad cases of persin toxicity in dogs, the results can be fatal.
Luckily, the more common reaction is far less life-threatening for your dog, but still pretty nasty – persin in dogs can cause vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as nausea and an upset tummy.
Your dog’s body and internal systems will fight hard to be rid of persin as found in avocados. Luckily, the part that we eat is the fruit, where persin seems to have a lighter presence – not that this means dogs get off scot-free or should be fed avocado.
Yet not only is persin higher in parts of the avocado like the stem, the leaves and the seeds, but the risks to dogs from these parts of the plant manifest in other ways.
In fact, avocado pits and seeds, in particular, are very hard and somewhat large, and a dog that tries eating them runs a very real risk of choking on them.
Of course, dogs are often stubborn, and you might find they force down an avocado pit before you can stop them.
If this is the case, you’re advised to seek out help from your vet or induce vomiting in your dog as soon as possible – it’s vital to stop the persin getting into your dog’s system.
What happens if your dog eats an avocado
Avocado fruit has an interesting flavour and texture that a curious pooch can’t help be intrigued by.
Likewise, the smell could well entice them, especially if the avocado has been used to make guacamole in Mexican food.
Yet one of a number of things could happen if your dog eats an avocado. Either the pits and seeds within it will cause a severe choking hazard, or the persin present in the plant will begin to horribly affect your dog’s internal systems.
While persin is less present in the flesh of the fruit altogether, that only lessens the risk for your dog, rather than eliminating it.
Their saving grace is that your dog might well be able to fight off this nasty toxin on their own if only a bit of fruit was eaten, but they’re still going to have an awfully upset tummy.
The persin is going to really mess with your dog’s health in a rapid way though, so it’s vital that professional help is sought as soon as possible – especially if your dog has eaten avocado leaves, large portions of the fruit or swallowed pits and seeds from the plant.
What to do if a dog eats an avocado
Maybe your dog has been rummaging in the garbage and found an old avocado there, or maybe he or she has been a bit cheeky in helping themselves to unattended grocery bags mistakenly left in the kitchen.
Worse still, maybe someone unfamiliar with dogs and what they can or can’t eat has given some avocado or guacamole to your pet, not realising the very real danger this puts them in.
Either way, when your dog eats an avocado, they’re going to feel very unwell rather rapidly, so it’s important that you remain calm, but able to act fast on their behalf.
A dog who senses his or her master panicking will only begin panicking more themselves.
The first course of action must be identifying what part of the avocado your dog has eaten.
If it is an entire avocado, or more specifically the pits and seeds, identify if your dog has been having any trouble breathing due to blocked or closed airways and choking hazards.
If necessary, try to induce vomiting in your dog either by offering more food to trigger a reflex in the stomach, or using hydrogen peroxide to trigger their gag reflex.
This can feel like a nasty thing to do, but it could save your dog’s life.
Hydrogen peroxide can be administered to your dog either by squirting it into their throat via a syringe, or with doses from a teaspoon.
Your dog will likely not be interested in ingesting it, especially if they are already in distress thanks to persin, but it’s very important that vomiting is induced.
The risk of toxins entering the body are drastically reduced the earlier that vomiting can be induced.
If you feel you’re way over your head though, definitely make sure you get your dog to a vet as soon as possible – they will have everything they need to make sure your pet gets through this ordeal unhurt.
Of course, as an aside, it’s likely that you have discovered that your dog has only eaten a little bit of avocado, and is seemingly fine.
Your pooch may well be hardy enough to be fighting off persin all on their own, but definitely keep an eye on them for a day or two after all this to make sure they’re alright.
All being well, your dog should get through this with just an upset tummy and a lesson learned.
Sharing our favourite meals with our pets is always a pleasure, but it’s absolutely vital that we stay educated on what is good and what isn’t good for the beloved animals in our lives too.
Therefore, with the rising popularity of avocados in trendy food, these are meals best enjoyed with your human friends rather than your canine ones.
Although dogs are fortunate enough to have a higher resistance to the toxin found in avocados – and by extension, guacamole and avocado derived products – than other animals, that doesn’t detract from the dangers of feeding avocados to your dog.
In particular, make sure your dog never eats the stem, pits or seeds of this fruit – not only is the persin toxin most concentrated there, but the choking hazards these parts of avocados present can prove just as dangerous.