Are avocados poisonous for dogs or a healthy and nutritious treat? That is the day's question. Last week we wrote a post about National Poison Prevention Week that included information about avocados being toxic for dogs. After reader Adri commented that her two Dachshunds eat avocados on a regular basis and that she was not aware of possible negative effects, I decided that a follow up post was in order.
First, let me stress that Adri is not alone. A lot of pet guardians allow their pups to have avocados. Some lucky California folks just have an excess of them in their yards. Others intentionally incorporate the fruit into their dogs' diets to enhance their coats. There is even a popular brand of pet food called AvoDerm. All this would lead people to believe that avocados are fine for dogs.
The experts, however, tend to disagree. The ASPCA maintains that they are dangerous for dogs. "Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain a toxic principle known as persin,” according to Dana Farbman, CVT, of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “The Guatemalan variety, which is the most common variety found in stores, appears to be the most problematic.”
In addition, the ASPCA includes avocados on the list of people foods that are unsafe for pets, with this warning, "The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal."
With this in mind, many pet parents may wonder why avocados are sometimes included in commercial dog food. This very question was recently addressed on the ASPCA website: "The safety profile of foods and other products formulated with avocado is a difficult question for us to answer definitively, because we do not know specifically how avocados are processed for these foods, what types of avocados are used, or what minimum dose of the toxic principle results in clinical effects. Therefore, we have refrained from making an overall assessment of the safety or toxicity of products that contain avocado."
To add to the confusion, there are animal experts who believe that fears about avocados are overblown. For some vets the main concern is not poisoning, but potential weight gain due to the fruit's high fat content and the chocking hazard posed by the large seed.
So, what's a dog guardian to do? I would suggest discussing the avocado conundrum with your own vet. Personally, I do not feed them to Greta and Dewey - partially because Greta had an allergic reaction once, and also because I try to ere on the side of caution. Although many pet parents report no negative side effects from their pooches' avocado consumption, it's important to recognize that all dogs are different. For more perspectives on the avocado dilemma, check out this story.