Avocado: Toxic to Pets?

In addition to grapes and raisins, avocado is another fruit that many pet owners don’t realize may pose a danger to pets. I was guilty, myself, of allowing my cat to eat small bits of avocado. Avocados contain a substance called persin which can cause digestive upset in your pet, such as vomiting and diarrhea.  Persin is in the avocado fruit, skin and seed, as well as the leaves and bark of the avocado tree.

There is no data regarding the specific amount of avocado ingestion that may be toxic and, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, “A single case report exists of 2 dogs developing myocardial damage secondary to avocado ingestion.” The Pet Poison Helpline notes that avocado is poisonous to cats, dogs, cows and birds, but notes that the level of toxicity in dogs and cats is mild, while in other species such as birds and cows, the level of toxicity is moderate to severe.

Some dogs eat avocado with no apparent ill-effects, and there are some brands of dog food, such as Avoderm, that list avocado among the ingredients. The ASPCA notes “…the primary concern with dogs eating avocado is gastrointestinal upset. However, some dogs can eat this fruit without having any adverse reactions. In fact, we haven’t heard reports of commercial foods with avocado being dangerous for pets.”  A bigger risk may actually be the avocado seed which can be a choking hazard, or cause intestinal obstruction.

While it may be safe for most dogs and cats to eat a small amount of avocado, it is safest to avoid feeding this to your pet, and certainly if you have a pet bird, do not ever feed avocado to your bird.

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