dog looking at avocadoes lying on the kitchen counter

Can dogs eat avocados & why should they be avoided?

In the human world, avocados are considered a delicious superfood, rich in nutritious goodness. You’ll find them in salads, on toast and even mashed into a delicious dip to enjoy with crisps, vegetables and whatever takes your fancy. So does that mean dogs can relish a tasty avocado snack too? Unfortunately not! Avocados contain a toxin that can cause health issues for dogs, so it’s important to avoid feeding it to your pooch.

Read on to learn more about why dogs cannot eat avocado and whether there are any exceptions (such as if dogs can eat avocado oil or food containing avocado). We’ll also cover what could happen if your dog were to eat some avocado and what to do in this scenario.

Can dogs eat avocado?

As we touched on above, the answer to if dogs can eat avocados is sadly no. Avocados contain a fungicidal toxin called Persin that can be harmful to some animals. In extreme cases it can cause death of larger animals such as cows and horses, and while dogs are more resistant to it, it can still cause health issues such as vomiting, diarrhoea and heart complications.

Persin is mostly found in avocado skin, leaves, bark and pits, however, a small amount can also be found in avocado flesh. This means that no part of a fresh avocado is truly safe for your pooch to eat.

Dogs can enjoy the delicious nutty taste in other ways though. For example, dogs can eat peanuts and cashews, but beware of other varieties that are toxic, such as macadamia nuts. Nuts can also be a choking hazard, so nut butters that don’t contain the artificial sweetener Xylitol (this is toxic for dogs) are a great way to let your pooch savour the nutty flavour.

Can dogs eat avocado oil?

While fresh avocado is out of bounds for our four legged friends, dogs can eat avocado oil safely as it doesn’t contain the toxin Persin like fresh avocado does. This said, dogs shouldn’t be eating any type of oil in high amounts due to its high fat content and because it can irritate their stomachs.

Avocado is among a few other foods for which different rules apply at different times, for example dogs can eat tomatoes in small amounts if they are ripe, but they should never eat unripened tomatoes or the stems, as they contain a toxin called tomatine. This is why it’s important to do your research and talk to your vet before feeding your dog something new.

Is fresh avocado safe for dogs?

Unfortunately it’s not safe for dogs to eat avocado skin or pits, or the leaves and bark from an avocado tree. That’s because they contain the fungicidal toxin, Persin that can make your pooch unwell. Avocado flesh also contains it in small amounts (especially if not fully mature - as under ripe avocados contain more persin), so it’s best to avoid letting your dog have any.

Will a small piece of avocado hurt my dog?

Dogs love a scrap, so bits of avocado that make their way onto the floor will likely make an enticing snack. There’s no need to worry if this does happen, as the flesh only contains a very small amount of the toxin Persin and is unlikely to cause your dog harm, unless a lot of avocado is eaten. 

What happens if dogs eat avocado?

If dogs eat avocados in large quantities it can leave them feeling quite unwell. Due to the toxin Persin found in avocados, eating too much - or eating the pits or skin - can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and damage to the heart’s muscular tissue. Heart complications are usually the result of eating lots of avocado over a longer period of time, while eating a lot in one go is more likely to cause a stomach upset and sickness. This is not only because of the toxin in avocados, but also because they have a high fat content which irritates the stomach and, if eaten in excess in the long term, can cause pancreatitis.

If your dog does manage to eat a large amount of avocado, especially if they get hold of the skin or pit, get them seen by a vet as soon as possible.

Is dog food containing avocado safe?

You’ll often find commercial dog food that contains avocado, so all this advice can seem a bit confusing. That’s because these products will usually contain avocado oil or avocado meal, which is where the flesh is dried and ground. Neither of these contain Persin, making it completely safe for your pooch. In fact, eaten this way, avocado can be a good source of vitamins A, B6, C and E, as well as fibre.

So, now you know the answer to “can dogs have avocado?” - skin, flesh, pit and all. Although dogs can eat avocado flesh, if it’s limited to a small bite or two, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid it. After all, there are plenty of other tasty foods that they can eat safely!

You can find out more about what other foods you should avoid feeding to your dog in our article on toxic foods for dogs.