avocados are not poisonous

4 Feb

In recent months I’ve heard a lot of people mention casually that avocados are poisonous to dogs. I’ve even seen brochures warning people of the dangers of avocados. Some people also believe they are poisonous to cats.
An avocado has many parts- and only certain parts are said to be poisonous to pets by the ASPCA. The leaves, stems and pits contain a substance called “persin”, which some people claim is the toxin.

Dr. Justine Lee, a board certified critical care veterinary specialist and the associate director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control based out of Minneapolis, MN has this to say: “Despite the rumors, avocado is not poisonous to dogs, nor likely to cats.”
In addition, she goes on to explain that the main risk associated with our pets eating avocados, along with other items that contain large, hard to digest pieces, is bowel obstruction:“The bigger risk to dogs and cats is the foreign body obstruction that can occur when the avocado seed is ingested—it’s a large seed and can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract.”

Another veterinarian, Dr. Heather Oxford, believes that persin could be toxic to dogs in very high levels, but again agrees that this substance is only found in the highest concentration in the leaves, and in lower concentration in the skin. She says,“Dog foods that utilize avocados for their nutritional value use avocado meal, which is the green fruit between the pit and skin, and avocado oil.  Neither of these parts used in dog foods are toxic.” She also agrees that persin is only really toxic to birds and small animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs.

Pet Poison Helpline, a 24-Hour poison control-type organization, says that “Avocado contains a toxin called persin, but despite the rumors, avocado is not poisonous to dogs, nor likely to cats.”

And again, another veterinarian chimes in on the not-so-toxic avocados: “Dr. Art Craigmill, UC Davis, Professor and Extension Specialist in Environmental Toxicology has said that his studies and other research in the United States and Australia have shown that the problem of toxicity is in the leaves and the pit of the Guatemalan variety; the avocado meat of the fruit and oils have not been shown to be toxic.”

Even the ASPCA, which has printed guides to harmful foods and substances for your pets in which they include avocado, says “Avocados can be harmful because they contain Persin, which can cause dogs to vomit and have diarrhea. Therefore 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.”
While they have the persin part right, what they don’t explain is that it has only been found t be toxic in birds and small animals.

I occasionally feed my cats Avoderm grain free wet food. I saw it at Petsmart and decided to give it a try, since I feed my cats 80% wet food and they can be picky at times. They love it, and I would never feed my cats anything that I knew could harm or even kill them. Avoderm food contains avocado oil that is extracted from the meal. Some of the dry formulas contain the actual meal, but I only feed the wet which contains the oil. Persin is not found in avocado meal nor oil. Avoderm has a lot of information about their products’ safety on their page. I didn’t quote them because this information could obviously be seen as biased, but  I believe it to be true considering the further research I have done.
But don’t listen to me- listen to the experts- and the majority of them (who have done their research and have not been spoon fed pamphlets) agree that there is nothing wrong with avocados.

1. VPI Pet Insurance, “Is this fruit toxic to dogs, cats and birds?”
2. LA Times blog, Ask a Vet column, “If avocados are dangerous for dogs, what’s up with avocado dog food?”
3. Pet Poison Helpline
4. ASPCA: Why is Avocado an in Ingredient in Some Dog Foods?
5. AllExperts.com, Ask the Veterinarian


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