Can Dogs Eat Avocados?

Yes, dogs can eat the flesh of avocados. They cannot eat the skin, leaves, or bark. Always avoid the pit which is a chocking hazard.

The avocado, widely considered a vegetable, is actually a fruit harvested from trees which grow in groves. The light yellow-green flesh, or meat, has a smooth buttery texture which mashes very easily once it has ripened. Most are grown year round in California, Hawaii, Florida and Mexico.  The fruit is pear shaped with some varieties being almost round. They can weigh from 1 ounce to up to 4 pounds each.  There are several varieties with the most common being Hass which is found in most grocery stores.

Photo Credit:  Flickr

Photo Credit:  Flickr

Avocados are cholesterol free, sodium free, and low saturated fat with only 5.0 grams of fat per serving.  In fact, most of the fat found in an avocado is monosaturated fat, a “good fat” that may help lower cholesterol.  They are an excellent source of fiber, potassium (containing 60% more than bananas), vitamin K, Vitamin B9, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 vitamin C, and vitamin E, and research suggests this fruit can lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of diabetes, promote lower body weight, and prevent cancer. 

Is It Safe for dogs?

Although avocados are toxic to horses, cattle, goats, and birds, it’s a common misconception that avocados are toxic to dogs when in fact it is only the skin, leaves, and bark which are toxic. The pit can cause a choking hazard. The flesh, or meat, is not only safe but quite beneficial to a dog’s skin and coat.

The ASPCA finally says

“The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.” under an article titled People Foods Pets Should Never Eat.  However, they have updated to say  “Toxic to horses, cattle, goats, and birds. Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark may contain a toxic principle known as persin. The Guatemalan variety, a common one found in stores, appears to be the most problematic. Other varieties of avocado can have different degrees of toxic potential … While avocado is toxic to some animals, in dogs and cats, we do not expect to see serious signs of illness. In some dogs and cats, mild stomach upset may occur if the animal eats a significant amount of avocado flesh or peel. Ingestion of the pit can lead to obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, which is a serious situation requiring urgent veterinary care. Avocado is sometimes included in pet foods for nutritional benefit. We would generally not expect avocado meal or oil present in commercial pet foods to pose a hazard to dogs and cats.” 

The Pet Poison Hotline states

“Avocado contains a toxin called persin, but despite the rumors, avocado is not poisonous to dogs, nor likely to cats. Only certain species are poisoned by persin. While dogs and cats don’t seem to be affected by persin, avocado poisoning can be deadly to birds and large animals (such as cattle). The bigger risk to dogs and cats is a foreign body obstruction, which can occur if the dog swallowed the whole large, round avocado seed; due to size alone, this seed can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract of dogs.”

Many holistic veterinarians agree avocados are safe and healthy in moderation and quite a few reputable dog foods contain avocado as an ingredient.

My Experience

Kirby, who is now 7 years old, has been eating avocado since he was a little puppy.  One of my favorite lunches is small curd cottage cheese with slices of avocado.  Kirby always gets a dollop of cottage cheese and a slice of avocado.  It's never made him ill, not even an upset stomach. He is on a rotational diet so his body is accustomed to a vast array of foods.  If your dog isn't then you may want to start him or her with a small amount to see if there's any adverse reaction such as a food allergy.

Recipes To Try

If I've convinced you that avocados are not only safe but beneficial for dogs then here's some recipes:

Tips

Is It Ripe?

Gently squeeze the avocado without applying your fingertips as this can cause bruising. If the avocado yields to firm gentle pressure then it's ripe and ready to eat.  If not, then it is considered still "firm" and will be ripe in a couple of days.  If the avocado feels mushy, it has become overripe.

Another option is to peel back the small stem or cap at the top of the avocado. If it comes away easily and you find green underneath, you've got a good avocado that's ripe and ready to eat.

How to cut open

  • Wash the outside
  • Slice in half length wise and then give a slight twist and pull apart
  • To remove the pit, take a sharp knife and carefully tap the edge into the pit to make it “stuck.”  Give a slight twist and remove.
  • Scoop out with a spoon or use an avocado slicer to remove the meat

If you’re not going to use the whole avocado, save the side with the pit. Leave the pit in and brush the exposed meat with lemon or lime juice, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Storing

  • Ripen at room temperature for up to 5 days
  • Ripen quicker by placing next to bananas or apples or even quicker in a paper bag
  • Move ripe avocados to the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze.

Freezing

  • Slice, twist open, remove pit but leave in the skin which helps to preserve the meat
  • Brush lemon or lime juice on the exposed meat
  • Wrap in saran wrap then place in a ziplock bag and remove as much air as possible. (I use a vacuum sealer)
  • Freeze for up to 3 months

To use, remove one at at a time. Vacuum seal each time for optimal freshness. Let thaw overnight, give a slight squeeze and they’ll detach easily from the skin.

Or

Use your food processor or blender to puree the meat. Fill ice cube trays, freeze, and remove.  Store in ziplock freezer bags. 

Human Tip: When making guacamole leave the pit in the bowl to keep the guacamole from turning brown.  Remove the pit right before serving.