The truth about avocados

The truth about avocados and your dog or cat

The avocado may be one of the best sources of essential nutrients for your dog or cat in one powerful superfood. There's a lot of misinformation floating around, so here's what you need to know: avocado fruit has not been found to be toxic for dogs and cats.

But you wouldn't know that from a casual search on the Internet. So why is there still so much debate about avocado safety for cats and dogs?

The source of all the confusion is persin.

Persin is a substance found in the avocado pit, skin, bark, leaves. Persin is harmful to some animals — birds, rabbits, horses, and goats, just to name a few. However, there have been no reported cases of avocado poisoning in dogs and cats.

As Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM, noted on her Pet Health Resource Blog, "Those of you whose canine and feline companions enjoy the occasional avocado indulgence can breathe a sigh of relief: persin does not adversely affect dogs or cats."

Persin does not adversely affect dogs or cats.

— Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM

And in a PawNation interview, Dr. Tina Wismer, the ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Outreach and Education, says, "In dogs, cats and ferrets there are no reliable reports of [avocado] poisoning."

In fact, avocado fruit provides many of the nutrients your dog or cat needs in one wholesome ingredient.

The avocado has achieved superfood status for humans in the last several years, and it's just as nutritious for your dog or cat. The healthy fats in avocado fruit support skin health and a shiny coat. Omega fatty acids are anti-inflammatory agents, and the wealth of antioxidants in avocados support the immune system.

Learn more about the specific benefits for your dog or cat.

A few common-sense caveats apply to avocado fruit with your dog and cat.

Making sure they get the right balance of nutrition is important, so it may be better for your pet's health to find a dog or cat food that already includes avocado, rather than supplementing their current food.

Be aware of the choking hazard of the inedible parts of the avocado: As Dr. Dodds notes on her blog, "The primary danger of avocados to dogs and cats concerns the possibility of swallowing the large pit, which can cause a blockage or obstruction in the animal’s esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract. Be sure to exercise common sense and never let your dog or cat eat a whole avocado or the avocado pit."

Not all animals should eat avocado.

While it may be fine for dogs and cats, you should be aware that persin is toxic to many animals. "Dogs and cats don’t seem to be affected by persin. However, birds and large animals (such as horses and cattle) have issues with persin toxicity, as it can be deadly in these species," says Dr. Justine Lee, a board-certified veterinary specialist in both emergency critical care and toxicology. Goats, rabbits and guinea pigs are also among those animals affected by persin, so make sure to keep avocados out of their reach.
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