As long as there have been humans, there have been dogs at our side. Since the emergence of our species, we’ve had dog there to help us hunt, to protect us, to lead the way. The bond between dogs and humans is incredibly strong, and because of that, it can be tempting to give them some of our food, especially when they’re begging for it. Or worse – waiting adorably by the table for their turn.
There are plenty of human foods that dogs can eat, but is avocado one of them? Can dogs eat avocados? Keep reading to learn the answer to that question!
Where Did Avocados Come From?
Avocados originated in central Mexico and were popular among the ancient civilizations that lived there. It wasn’t until the conquistadors of the sixteenth century that Europeans enjoyed their first avocado. There were breeds of dogs that existed in ancient Mesoamerica; some of them were treated like members of the family and ate dinner with the household. Others were served as dinner. Because of that dichotomy, it’s hard to know the relationship between avocados and dogs.
Can Dogs Eat Avocados?
In modern times, avocados are just one more human food that dogs want to eat. Can they eat avocados? The answer is technically yes, but moderation is key.
How Much Avocado Can a Dog Eat?
Dogs don’t know how to limit their food intake. They’re pack animals, evolved from wolves. They’re wired for scarcity. Some hunts were bountiful, but others were slim pickings. It’s believed that the first domesticated dogs were the wolves who were smart enough to hang around human camps and eat their leftovers. Much easier than having to hunt in the wilderness.
The scarcity and eating-leftovers instincts live on in them, which is why we need to be the guardians of their diet.
The flesh of an avocado is safe for a dog to eat, so long as they don’t overdo it. “Overdo” is a relative term, based on your dog’s size. You can let them lick your plate or eat small pieces, and then monitor to see if they have any signs of an upset stomach. Signs of an upset stomach include vomiting, not eating their regular food, and lethargy.
Your dog may try avocados and not be interested. Dogs are omnivores and don’t have a need for fruit and vegetables in their diet. They aren’t wired to sniff out produce.
Can a Dog Eat the Skin and Pit of an Avocado?
Nope. Hard pass to both.
Keep them away from eating the avocado skin, which contains the toxin called persin. Persin is an oil-soluble fatty acid, which in large quantities can cause stomach and heart damage. If a dog swallows a few flecks of avocado skin by accident, they’ll most likely be fine. For the adventurous dog who eats a whole avocado skin, reach out to your vet. They may pass it in their stool, but it’s best to get him checked out.
Additionally, the pit isn’t digestible. It’s a big, slippery ball and could lead to choking incidents with dogs, especially if it’s still coated with excess flesh. A dog may start licking it, and it could easily wind up in its throat. It’s best to throw it out and get them a chew toy instead.
What If My Dog Does Eat an Avocado?
Nine time out of ten, they will be fine, so long as they didn’t eat an excessive amount. If they do eat more than scrap amounts, keep an eye on them for 24-48 hours to see if there’s vomiting or any signs of an upset stomach. Being withdrawn or refusing to eat their regular food is a potential sign that the avocado isn’t sitting well with them. On the flip side, they may want to go to the bathroom more often than usual as it works its way through their digestive system.
The Proof Is In the Pudding.
And by pudding, I mean poop.
Our dog’s stool can tell us a lot about them. It’s like a smelly crystal ball. The consistency and frequency of your dog’s excrement can tip you off if something isn’t right with your dog. Even behaviorally, if your dog is experiencing stress or anxiety, it might manifest in their waste.
When you walk your dog, get a good look at their stool.
- Is it runny or mushy?
- Is the consistency different than what usually comes out?
- Are they having trouble going?
- Are they going multiple times on a walk?
- Is it a different color? (If they binged on avocado, their poop may have a green color.)
Many times, when they eat something they shouldn’t, it’ll reflect in their excrement. Not at all dogs respond well to avocado. That’s why feeding them a little bit will be a safe test to determine how they handle it. If avocados aren’t agreeing with your dog, here is where you’ll find out.
Onto better-smelling topics…
Can Dogs Eat Avocado Oil and Guac?
Yes to avocado oil. Since avocado oil doesn’t have any skin, you don’t have to worry about persin. Some dog foods have avocado oil mixed into their food to help keep dogs’ coats shiny. But check with your vet before actively feeding them avocado oil.
Guac is a no out of caution. The avocados in guac shouldn’t upset their stomach. However, if your guac includes onions, keep them away. Onions are very toxic to dogs. They can lead to anemia.
Spicy foods also don’t sit well with dogs. The chemical capsaicin, found in hot peppers, is another toxin that doesn’t agree with their stomachs, though not to the harsh extent of onions. The salt content in guac, and in other human foods, could lead to dehydration and urinary issues with your dog if overdone. If your dog has a few licks of onion- and spice-free guac, they should be fine. But like with avocado oil, consult your vet before actively adding this to their diet.
Can I Make My Dog Vegan?
One reason why pet owners may want to steer their dog to avocados is to have them go vegan. Dogs are meat-eaters by nature. Avocados are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and antioxidants. However, dogs should be able to get these nutrients from their dog food.
There are concerns that a plant-based diet could lead to pancreatic issues for dogs. If you want to transition your dog to a vegan diet, please reach out to your vet. You two can discuss feasibility and put together a game plan. Trying to fashion a vegan diet modeled on yours could lead to health issues with your dog. Dogs and humans have a strong bond, but our bodies and dietary needs are not the same.
Perhaps as a healthy medium, you can look into brands of dog foods that contain traces of avocado blended in. AvoDerm is a brand of dog food that is blended with avocado oil, which they claim can help preserve the sheen of your dog’s coat. There are also vegetarian brands of dog food like Wysong. But again, have a conversation with your vet before you transition your dog to their options.
If your dog had their way, they’d eat avocados and anything else on your plate. You can let your dog have a few licks of avocado off your plate, as they’ve done for thousands of years, but you need to moderate their intake. A little avocado here and there should be fine. Monitor their poop to see if it’s causing any digestive issues.
But if you’re curious if dogs can eat avocado because you want to transition them to a plant-based diet, then you must discuss with your vet. Removing meat from your dog’s diet is a major shift and needs to be done with the utmost care. In our hunter-gatherer days, dogs helped protect us. Now it’s our turn to protect them.
Curious about whether or not other kinds of fruit are safe for your dog? Read our other “Can Dogs Eat” blog posts to learn the answers.