Almost 90 million dogs currently share their homes with humans according to recent reports from the pet food and supply industry. While the dogs are the ones who truly rule the roost, they look to us for nurturing and protection. In some cases, these two elements conflict with one another; of course, just which cases these may be isn’t always clear.
The Avocado Conundrum
Avocados have been in the spotlight for quite some time now because of their numerous health benefits for humans. Can dogs eat avocados, though? This dispute has been going strong for almost a century now, so we’ve gathered some expert opinions to help clear up the confusion.
What the Experts Have to Say
First off, let’s take a look at the reason behind the ongoing argument. For the most part, whether or not avocados are safe for dogs is in question because of a potentially dangerous compound known as persin. This substance is present in the bark of the avocado tree as well as its stems and leaves. It can also be found in the skin and seeds of the avocado itself.
Having said that, the meat of the avocado may be a different story altogether. Foremost authorities in the veterinary and pet care sector have spoken up on the matter.
- ASPCA: According to experts with the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, avocado is toxic to goats, cows, horses, rabbits, birds and certain other animals with Guatemalan types being more dangerous than others. Still, they point out dogs and cats are largely unaffected by the persin content aside from stomach upset for some. They add pancreatitis is also a risk because of avocados’ high fat content, but this is typically only an issue if large amounts are consumed over extended periods of time.
- VetVine®: This online educational resource and specialty consulting service concurs with the ASPCA’s findings, noting significant amounts of avocado could potentially cause stomach upset in dogs and increase their chances of pancreatic inflammation. Both agree the stems and skins of avocados should be kept away from dogs since these are the components known to hold the highest persin content.
- Pet Poison Helpline: Around-the-clock animal poison control organization, the Pet Poison Helpline offers the same details as the ASPCA and VetVine®, stating dogs and cats are rarely negatively affected by the actual meat of avocados aside from occasional digestive issues.
- American Kennel Club: Specialists with the AKC have exceedingly different opinions on the matter due to the potential risk of avocados’ persin and fat content. While they do mention veterinary studies have proven dogs are more resistant to the effects of persin than other animals, they also insist the better-safe-than-sorry approach is always best.
- JustFoodForDogs: Oscar Chavez, Staff Veterinarian and Professor of Canine Clinical Nutrition at JustFoodForDogs, a well-known prescription, custom and conventional dog food creator, seems to side with the AKC more so than other sources. Though he agrees some varieties may be safe, he also strongly advises against Guatemalan varieties and reiterates the dangers of allowing dogs to chew on the leaves and peels. Dr. Chavez emphasizes moderation for those who do choose to feed their dogs avocados but believes even minimal risks are unacceptable.
Authorities across the board caution against allowing dogs to play with or chew on avocado pits as they’re potentially deadly choking hazards and can cause digestive obstructions. VetVine further adds even small pieces of avocado pits may cause obstructions if swallowed because they’re indigestible.
Do Avocados Offer Any Health Benefits for Dogs?
According to many leading pet food producers and veterinarians alike, avocados do offer a wide range of health benefits for dogs as long as they don’t overindulge. In fact, the same compounds proven beneficial for humans can have a positive impact on our canine family members.
- Gorgeous Coats: Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids found in avocados help give dogs shiny, luxurious fur.
- Well-Nourished Skin: Omega-3s, vitamin E and vitamin A present in avocados go a long way toward retaining vital moisture and keeping dogs’ skin healthy.
- Strong Muscles: Being filled with protein and a wide range of amino acids, avocados promote healthy muscle growth and regeneration.
- Healthy Heart: Packed with helpful monounsaturated fats, vitamin B3 and a number of other nutrients, avocados may promote heart health in dogs.
- Digestive Health: Though large amounts of avocado can cause tummy troubles, they’re extremely high in fiber. This means they can aid in keeping your dog regular and happy.
Aside from these benefits, avocados are high in vitamin C. This vitamin has been found to help dogs more readily absorb vital nutrients in other healthy foods they’re eating, so they may even be more likely to enjoy good health with an occasional slice of avocado.
All Things Considered
Though some experts are wholeheartedly against allowing dogs to eat avocado, most feel the meat of the fruit is completely safe. Dogs may even experience improved health with a slice of avocado here and there.
Authorities do recommend limiting your dogs’ avocado intake due to the risk of digestive issues and potential pancreatic damage, though. Leaves, stems, skins and seeds should be kept well out of dogs’ reach at all times.