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Avocado Poisoning in Dogs, Here's What Vets Say

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Avocado Poisoning in Dogs

While many animals can get ill from ingesting avocados, avocado poisoning in dogs is not something to be particularly concerned about. Despite many rumors, avocados are not particularly poisonous to dogs or cats, but their toxicity mostly poses a danger to birds and some large animals such as cattle. So can you give your dog avocado? The answer is that in small quantities, avocado is not likely to cause any major problems, however, ingestion of avocado is not without any danger. It is therefore best to err on the side of caution. Following is some information vets want you to know about giving dogs avocado.

Dog ate avocado

Avocado Poisoning in Dogs 

If your dog happens to eat a little bit of avocado you have chopped for a salad, it's not the end of the world. According to the Pet Poison Helpline , in dogs, the level of toxicity of avocado is mild, while in birds and ruminants such as cattle, goats and horses, it can range from moderate to severe.

The main toxic component in avocado is a toxin known as persin. Persin acts as a defense mechanism to protect the avocado fruit from fungus. Indeed, persin is a fungicidal toxin (meant to kill fungi) that is contained in the pit and that leaches into the fruit. Persin is mostly concentrated in the peel, pit, and leaves of the avocado plant.

Because persin is more concentrated inside the avocado's pit, it's more dangerous when the pit is crushed. If the pit is swallowed in a large piece, there's therefore less risk of toxicity, but then you should be worried about the pit causing an obstruction, explains veterinarian Dr. Drew.

The risk and implications of obstruction as a result of a dog eating an avocado pit are explained further below.

"Avocado contains persin, a substance that can prove fatal to birds. For dogs and cats, it’s unclear how toxic it is, but it is recommended that avocados or anything made from them not be fed to your pets."~DVM360

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A Matter of Fat 

On top of persin, avocados tend to have a high fat content and this can sometimes cause problems. Just consider that just a 100 gram serving of avocado contains 120 calories and 10 grams of fat out of which 2 grams are saturated and the remaining 8 grams are unsaturated.

This high fat content may cause in sensitive dogs a bout of acute pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the dog's pancreas,and affected dogs can get very sick and tend to develop severe vomiting, abdominal pain and fever explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona.

dog ate avocado pit

My Dog Ate an Avocado Pit

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It may sound surprising, but the biggest risk to dogs when consuming avocado is ingestion of the pit. However, the issue is mostly not because of the pit's persin content, but rather because of its size. Once swallowed, based on the dog's size and the size of the pit, the pit may pass through uneventfully or it may get stuck and cause a blockage in the dog's esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract.

While at times, when dogs ingest something potentially harmful, inducing vomiting may be an option, it could be risky business with an avocado pit due to the fact that it could get stuck in the dog's esophagus making problems even worst.

And if the pit was chewed, consider that its jagged surface can cause injuries as it's brought back up. "I would not induce vomiting without radiographs," points out veterinarian Dr. M.

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"Certainly, I would not suggest inducing vomiting at home because of the risk of asphyxiation if the pit becomes lodged in the upper esophagus or pharynx, potentially blocking the airway."~Dr. Drew.

Signs of Trouble

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Ingesting significant amounts of avocado may cause in dogs the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms may be due to eating too much avocado, but they can also be the first signs of an inflamed pancreas or even a blockage, if the dog managed to eat the pit.

In some dogs with a sensitive stomach or small dogs, just a small amount of avocado can be at times enough to cause symptoms. If your dog ate avocado and is vomiting frequently or showing other signs of discomfort, it's important to see the vet.

 If your dog ate the avocado pit, it may be wise to see the vet sooner than later, especially if it was a recent ingestion such as just a couple of hours ago. In such a recent ingestion there are chances that the pit is still inside the dog's stomach and an endoscope can be used to remove it, sparing the dog from going through an invasive surgery. However, not always this option is feasible and at times surgery remains the only way to get the truoblesome foreign object out.

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References:

  • Pet Poison Helpline: Avocado
  • Merck Veterinary Manual: Avocado Toxicology
  • DVM360: Keep pets safe at your Superbowl party, Guacamole

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