Avocado toast. Avocado ice cream. Avocado pancakes. Admit it, humans are obsessed with avocados. But what about our dogs and cats? You may have heard that avocados aren’t safe for pets to eat, but that blanket statement is a little misleading. The skin of an avocado contains low concentrations of persin, a fungicidal toxin that is harmful to some animals (though dogs and cats are not considered to be among them). And the pit of an avocado is definitely a choking hazard. But the meat of an avocado—the only part you want to be eating anyway—is filled with beneficial nutrients. Just as this green superfood has become a mainstay of the American pantry in recent years, it’s becoming an increasingly popular treat for our furry ones, too. So forget what you’ve heard and embrace the avocado as a wholesome addition to your pet’s healthy diet.
The avocados we buy from the grocery store are the fruits of avocado trees. They come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, but the avocado you’re probably picking up at the store is the Hass avocado, which is grown in California, Mexico, and South America.
There are 20 different vitamins and minerals in an avocado. Among them, you’ll find:
Vitamin K: crucial for bone health
Vitamin C: supports healthy bones, blood, vessels, and skin
Vitamin B5: promotes oxygen circulation in the body
Vitamin B6: supports adrenal function and helps
maintain a healthy nervous system
Vitamin E: offers an antioxidant that prevents cell damage
Folate: maintains proper brain function
Potassium: supports healthy blood pressure
Magnesium: regulates nerve function, muscle function, and blood sugar
Iron: supports red blood cells in the distribution of oxygen throughout the body
Zinc: wards off bacteria and viruses
In addition to these important benefits, avocados are high in healthy fats, including omega fatty acids, which are great for your pet’s skin, coat, and immune system.
It is healthy for pets to eat the green, inner meat of the avocado, but never give your dog or cat access to an entire avocado, as the skin and pit can pose health hazards. Instead, cut up small bits of the inner flesh for your pets to enjoy as a treat or meal topper.
Though the fat in avocados is healthy, it’s still high in calories, so limit the amount and use in place of—as opposed to in addition to—other treats. Limit your pet to just a small bit a day, and if you notice any weight gain, cut back.
For cats, as well as dogs with smaller mouths, use a fork to mash the avocado meat before serving, instead of simply cutting it into pieces.
If you’d rather feed your pet avocado in a more regulated manner, there are some great commercial pet foods that include avocado as a main ingredient.
• Avocado is considered safe for dogs and cats, but the persin in the skin is toxic to some animals, including horses, birds, cattle, and goats. The most toxic variety of avocado for these types of animals is the Guatemalan.
• The riper the avocado, the softer the meat and the easier (and tastier) it is to consume. Wait for avocados to ripen prior to feeding to your pets.
• The main concern with avocados is the pit, which can cause a serious obstruction if swallowed. Always keep avocado pits far away from your pets, especially those who already like the taste of the fruit and may go searching for more.