Are Avocados Poisonous to Dogs?

Sandra C. Mitchell, DVM, DABVP
Written by:
Published: June 13, 2019
Are Avocados Poisonous to Dogs?

Your heart sinks as you realize what has happened. You were slicing an avocado for your Cobb salad, and your black Labrador Retriever scarfed up a slice that slid off the cutting board. 

You panic. My dog just ate avocado. Are avocados poisonous to dogs? Should you take him right to the emergency clinic?

Relax and take a deep breath. It is likely that your pup will be just fine.

Is It Okay If My Dog Eats Avocado?

Avocado pulp is not toxic to dogs, but other parts of the avocado can be harmful to your dog.

Avocado Pit

There IS a danger when you mix avocados and dogs, but it isn’t with the skin or the meat; it is actually with the pit! The pit of an avocado doesn’t digest particularly well in a dog’s intestinal tract and might cause a gastric or an intestinal blockage.

Once a dog eats an avocado—if the dog’s system is not able to process the pit—it will become stuck partway through the intestinal tract. If this happens, the only treatment is to go in and surgically remove it—just as if it was a rock, rubber ball or any other indigestible object.

Avocado Leaves, Bark and Skin

The one known poison in avocados is something called “persin.”

Persin is a natural antifungal compound that can be produced within the avocado plant. The levels of persin vary between the different types of avocados other external factors. It is present in the leaves, skin, seeds and fruit of the avocado.

Dogs and cats do not appear to be sensitive to this poison, although other animals certainly are.

Ingestion of large amounts of persin might indeed bother a dog’s stomach, but this would require eating a lot of leaves, bark or avocado peels. Although dogs are silly enough to eat the pits, not many dogs will sit down to graze on a meal of avocado leaves!

Avocado Pulp

Despite the fact that there isn’t a known toxicity for dogs, we do know that sensitive dogs can develop pancreatitis, even if they only eat a small amount of avocado pulp.

Pancreatitis is inflammation of the digestive organ called the pancreas. In some cases, this condition can even be fatal. So as a rule, I actually do not recommend feeding avocados to dogs.

If your dog eats the pulp of an avocado, it’s always a good idea to watch them for 24-48 hours, and report any vomiting, diarrhea or signs of abdominal discomfort to your veterinarian.

While there are some health benefits to avocados—including vitamins, fatty acids and antioxidants— these benefits can be obtained by feeding other foods that are lower in fat and do not contain the risk of inducing pancreatitis. 

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