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Avocados have grown in popularity over the past few years. Today, you see them everywhere: from traditional guacamole on tortilla chips to sliced avocado on toast, blended in a smoothie or even spread on some toast. As humans, we're taught that these fruits are highly beneficial to our health. If you're a pet parent, it's only natural that you'd wonder: Can my dog or cat eat avocados?
If a food you love is healthy, you may feel inclined to share it. But some foods can make our favourite furry friends sick. Let's learn more about our pets' relationship with this popular health food.
Can Dogs & Cats Eat Avocados?
Unlike some dangerous human foods for pets (see: chocolate), the answer to this question is slightly more nuanced than a straight "yes" or "no". If your pet consumes a very small amount of avocado, they will most likely be unharmed, which I will explain later. However, if a cat or dog consumes more avocado than their body can handle, they're entering toxin territory. In short, if you're bringing home avocados for yourself, your best bet is to keep them away from your four-legged friends.
Why Are Avocados Risky?
According to Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, avocados are actually poisonous to dogs as "avocado plants contain a substance called Persin which is in its leaves, fruit and seed and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea in dogs."
If you're wondering, can cats eat avocados? The answer is similar: It's not advised. It's not just the "meat" of the avocado that contains persin. In fact, every part of the avocado — from the pit to the flesh to the leaves — has the potential to poison your pet. And while the amount of persin is unknown, there are some side effects that the AKC notes in pets who have consumed large amounts of the toxin, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal upset and heart muscle damage.
Avocado also has other, nontoxic risks to consider. It's a high-calorie food that can cause your pet significant weight gain more quickly than expected, if eaten in larger quantities. And the stone pit at the centre of the fruit may cause animals to choke on it, if swallowed. While an avocado pit will likely not fit in a cat's mouth, you do have to be cautious with larger dogs who might view the pit as a toy!
My Pet Ate Avocado, What Should I Do?
We now know that larger amounts of avocado may be dangerous for cats and dogs. But if your pet has eaten avocado, you might be worried and wonder: Can dogs eat avocado, even in small amounts? What about my cat?
If your pet has consumed some avocado — or food containing avocado, like guacamole — don't panic. The first thing you should do if your cat or dog has eaten the fruit is remove whatever remains of the food from their mouths. Then, call your vet or animal poison control and ask them how to proceed. If possible, take note of how much avocado you believe your pet has eaten so that you can share this information with your vet. If your pet consumed a food containing avocado, do your best to note all the other ingredients in case there are other toxins to consider when asking for their advice.
In summary, can pets eat avocados? It's certainly not something worth testing intentionally. Plus, not sharing means there will be more for you to eat!
Remember, there are a lot of alternative snacks and foods you can give your pets as rewards to strengthen your bond without risking their health. Consider providing your pet a healthy treat like plain turkey or chicken, or even a fruit like watermelon, for a job well done. They'll thank you — and their bellies will, too.
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghost writing, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Instagram @ErinOllila or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.
Reviewed by Dr. Hein Meyer, DVM, PhD, Dipl-ECVIM-CA and Brana Bonder, B.S, M.S