Can I Give My Dog Avocados?
When we think of savory fruits, most of us imagine bright red tomatoes, watery cucumbers, or some varieties of squash. These are all delicious, of course… but there is no savory fruit as delicious as the rich, creamy, versatile avocado. This fruit, most commonly consumed in the summer, improves almost any dish you put it in—tacos and sandwiches, smoothies, nachos, burgers, pastas, and even desserts like pudding and brownies. Avocados also have the benefit of being both healthy and delicious, which makes them a favorite among health-conscious folks.
In a world where more and more pet owners are horrified upon reading the ingredients in their dog’s treats, many of us are constantly on the lookout for health-friendly, whole food alternatives. So, are avocados a reasonable alternative to dog treats? Can dogs have avocados?
Though the Internet is full of conflicting information about avocados and their effects on dogs, rest assured that dogs CAN, in fact, eat avocado flesh in moderation. Some bloggers have said, mistakenly, that avocados should be off-limits due to a chemical called persin. While persin is something to consider when approaching avocados, the risk of poisoning is rather low once the pit and peel have been removed. Just remember that this food should be fed to your dog in moderation.
Health Benefits of Feeding Your Dog Avocados
Most of us are aware that avocados are incredibly healthy for humans, but fewer of us know that many of these health benefits apply to our canine companions, too. Avocados are incredibly nutritionally dense—they contain moderate amounts of important nutrients like protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B vitamins, potassium, and niacin, as well as high amounts of B vitamins and healthy fats.
Avocados contains all eight of the amino acids required to make a complete protein, which makes it an excellent food for athletic dogs who may need more protein to build and repair muscle and organs. Protein, after all, is the raw material that most of the body is made out of! Without the materials necessary for upkeep, the health of the whole body suffers.
Dogs need to get more of their calories from protein than humans do, too. If your pet does not consume enough protein, they may suffer from a compromised immune system, skin problems, and poor coat health. If your dog’s coat is dull and thin rather than thick and shiny, you may want to make sure they are getting enough protein.
Avocados are known best for their high amount of healthy fats. Healthy fats are required for skin, coat, and even brain health. In addition, healthy fats can actually lower cholesterol, countering the effects of the less healthy fats common in meat and junk food.
Many of the fatty acids in avocados also have powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals, which may prevent illness and alleviate the symptoms of many existing illnesses. For example: pets who have arthritis and eat anti-inflammatory foods may experience a reduction in pain and swelling, as well as an improvement in joint mobility. Anti-inflammatory foods can also be helpful to dogs who are recovering from injury, illness, or stressful situations.
Things to Keep in Mind
One of the avocado’s superpowers is its high antioxidant content. Antioxidants, which are naturally occurring in many fruits and vegetables, boost immunity and reduce the risk of a wide range of potentially chronic or life-threatening illnesses. They do this by destroying free radicals, the highly charged particles responsible for causing the cell damage that can lead to diseases like cancer. In a world of unhealthy food, chronic stress, and environmental toxins, dogs are just as likely as we are to struggle with a high level of free radicals in the body. Antioxidants can be a great way to minimize their effects.
Though avocados contain a chemical called persin, which is very toxic to horses, rabbits, and some other animals, the amount of persin found in avocado flesh is unlikely to harm your dog. Most of the avocado’s persin is found in the skin and the peel, so make sure to remove these before feeding avocado to your dog. The biggest risks associated with feeding your dog avocado flesh are indigestion and weight gain—both of which can be largely prevented by practicing moderation. Healthy or not, avocados are very high in fat, and you should not allow your dog to gorge themselves on them.
In the end, avocados are a perfectly safe (and even healthy!) treat option for your dog. They are high in vitamins and minerals, protein, healthy fats, anti-inflammatory compounds, and antioxidants. To make avocados safe for your dog, it’s important to remove the pit and the skin, which contain high amounts of persin and may pose a choking hazard. Finally, make sure to give this high-fat food to your dog in moderation, and as always, remember to monitor your pet every time they try a new food.