Just the other day I was making one of my favorite Mexican dishes, chicken enchiladas with a very large side of guacamole. My dogs have one job in my household – to clean the kitchen floor. They take this job very seriously. As I was preparing the avocado, something I have never mastered with grace, a large piece fell to the floor, at which time my 10 lb rat terrier mix named Lotti gladly took care of it for me.
The thought crossed my mind – “Should I be worried? She’s pretty small and that WAS a giant piece…” Even veterinarians fret about their dogs from time to time. Sometimes my knowledge causes me more anxiety, and sometimes it eases my nerves. In this particular instance, the fact that she had not long ago downed an entire bag of mini powdered donuts without the slightest of complications, combined with my knowledge that avocados are not technically toxic to dogs left me to just wait and see how she did. But this approach does NOT fit every situation. Read on to see why.
Can Dogs Eat Avocado?
There is a lot of confusion over whether or not Avocados are toxic to pets. Cattle and birds are especially toxic to a compound found in the fruit called persin. Persin is a natural anti-fungal, which is found in highest concentrations in the pit but diffuses into the flesh and skin of the fruit as well.
The greatest danger an avocado poses to dogs is as an obstructive foreign body. Often times, dogs will get a hold of the entire fruit, and unlike us, they are indiscriminate about which parts they swallow. An avocado pit may be easy for most dogs to swallow whole, but there are segments of the intestines in which it could become lodged in, blocking the flow of ingests and leading to a ruptured bowel. Obstructive foreign bodies are one of the most common gastrointestinal emergencies in dogs and should be addressed as soon as you know your dog has eaten something that is not digestible.
Is Avocado actually good for Dogs?
While intestinal obstruction poses the greatest risk, it is not the only one. Many dogs, particularly schnauzers and small breeds, are predisposed to a condition called pancreatitis. Nobody knows exactly what induces an episode of pancreatitis in dogs, but one strong link is to the recent ingestion of high-fat foods. Since avocados contain a whopping 21 grams of fat, they have a higher likelihood of leading to pancreatitis than other human foods. Additionally, one avocado contains more calories than one 10 pound dog should consume in an entire day. Obesity rates in dogs in the U.S. have exceeded 50%, and calorie control is the most important aspect of keeping pets at a healthy weight.
Is a small sliver of Avocado going to harm your dog? Probably not. But there are plenty of lower-calorie options in the kitchen to treat your dogs with, so it is best to not make a habit of treating with Avocados.
My dog ate avocado – what should I do?
If your dog ate the flesh of the avocado only, the best plan of action is to monitor it for vomiting and diarrhea. If it has more than 1 episode of each, it is time to make an appointment with your veterinarian to avoid dehydration. Lotti’s iron gut handled the avocado she scavenged just fine without any intervention.
If your dog at the entire avocado, it is best to go to the veterinarian right away. It is possible to induce vomiting and get the pit out of the stomach to avoid the risk of an intestinal obstruction altogether, but only within the first hour or 2 of ingestion. If you miss that window, it is likely your veterinarian will super-hydrate your dog with IV fluids in hopes of helping him pass the pit on his own. If the pit does become lodged in the intestines, surgical removal lends the best chance of a full recovery.
Anything missing? How about your dog’s experiences with avocado?