I wrote about avocados and what they can do if a dog eats the fruit back in 2018. Three years on and the idea of including avocado in pet food is becoming a reality. Some companies are using it based on nutritional benefits of the berry, others rely on avocado meal as a fibre replacement for beet pulp or cellulose. But does it mean that avocado is good for our spaniels?
Essentially, avocado is still considered toxic to dogs by WSAVA, ASPCA and veterinary manuals. As I’ve previously written, the fruit, skin, leaves, stems, bark and stones are high in persin. If you give persin to a human, the substance may actually fight cancer and increase effectiveness of cancer fighting drugs. If you give it to an animal, including dogs, it can cause an accumulation of fluid in the lungs, breathing difficulties and death. Small quantities of the fruit will lead to diarrhoea and vomiting. The high fat content will increase the risk of pancreatitis or weight gain (and cockers are genetically prone to both). And the stone can cause obstructions or, if it’s crushed, repeat the worst-case scenario as above.
Of course, the parts of avocado contain different levels of toxin. Leaves and bark are the worst. The light green flesh you’d use in a guacamole, is least toxic, which does not make it safe – it simply means you are less likely to lose your dog. Studies have shown that feeding dogs small quantities of avocado didn’t always make the canines unwell visually, but their bloods had elevated levels lactate dehydrogenase, alanine aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase. When rats were given avocado oils in another study, their livers showed abnormalities.
What is also important to consider is that avocados are usually used in pet food in a form of meal. And the meal can contain any parts of the plant due to natural contamination during manufacturing process. In other words, you may be lucky and have “light green parts” or not to lucky and give your dog a treat or food containing traces of bark or leaves.
Does it mean that avocado is bad? Avocado is a fantastic source of fatty acids (the “good” fats), vitamin A, E, K and folate, minerals magnesium and potassium, as well as fibre. It’s packed with antioxidants, too. But this only applies to human diet.
This also means that simply because something is really good for humans, it does not necessarily need to become an ingredient in canine diet.
And please do check the ingredients list on your dog food and treats to ensure that they are avocado-free. Maybe one day there will be long-term studies to prove us wrong or a new process developed to make avocados safe for dogs. But honestly, why not simply focus on other sources of the above mentioned vitamins and minerals that are known and proven to be safe for dogs than trying to alter a fruit known to cause problems. Not everything in nature is meant to be tamed to suit the human brief or financial interests. But that’s how I feel about it.