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Eat Avocado?

Can Animals Eat Avocado?
June 23, 2024

It’s no secret that humans love avocados, and there’s no denying that the heart-healthy fruit loves us back! Your furry friends might try to convince you they, too, love the green fruit. And while avocados provide humans with nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, it’s essential to be sure it’s safe for pets before sharing. Can animals eat avocado? Better yet, should they?


The short answer is no — animals should not eat avocado. It’s best to leave the guac and other avocado dishes to your two-footed human friends and family. Dogs, cats, and other pets, such as birds and rabbits, can be sensitive to avocado and may even experience severe distress if exposed to certain parts of the fruit. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why.


Why Can’t Animals Eat Avocado?

Most of the avocado tree and the fruit, including the skin and pit, contain a substance called persin. This fungicide is fat-soluble and is actually similar in structure to the polyunsaturated fats in avocados, which can irritate some animals’ stomachs and can even be toxic to others. The persin molecules are found in the avocado pit and skin, and as the fruit matures, getting fattier, tastier, and more tempting while ripening on the tree, they can migrate into the oily flesh of the fruit.


Fortunately, the levels of persin found in an avocado’s smooth green flesh have no toxic effect on most humans.


1. Can Cats and Dogs Eat Avocado?

Cats and dogs should not eat avocado, but you don’t need to worry too much if they accidentally snag a bite of your avocado toast — just monitor them closely for any signs of distress. Some cat and dog foods are actually made with avocado oil, and these levels are generally considered safe. However, eating a significant portion of the green flesh or the leathery peel can cause stomach upset for your furry friend, and swallowing the large seed could lead to a blockage requiring an urgent vet visit. So, it’s better not to share your avocado. (More for you!)


Keep your avocados out of your pet’s reach by storing ripe avocados in the fridge and unripe avocados in a paper bag.


2. Can Rodents Eat Avocado?

Other pet owners need to be more careful. Smaller fuzzy friends, such as rabbits and mice, don’t tolerate avocado well at all. Rats and hamsters can eat small amounts of avocado meat, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, as eating the peel or pit may cause serious digestive, respiratory, or heart problems in small rodents. In fact, dried avocado seeds have historically been an ingredient in homemade rodent deterrents. Sorry, Mr. Fuzzywhiskers.


3. Can Birds Eat Avocado?

Birds who get their beaks into an avocado can experience life-threatening respiratory symptoms. This is true for smaller indoor breeds, such as canaries and parrots, as well as larger agricultural breeds. Certainly, don’t feed your avocado scraps to backyard chickens or ducks, and be sure to pack up any remnants of your avocado picnic to ensure curious wild animals don’t get a taste.


The effects of avocado on birds could be part of the tree’s defense mechanism, not just against invading fungus but against any feathered flock that might descend into its branches for lunch. Though it keeps the fruit safe from hungry critters, this also presents a challenge for the future of the avocado plant since most fruit trees rely on animals to disperse the seeds and keep the growth cycle going. The Resplendent Quetzal, native to Southern Mexico and Central America, is among the only fruit-eating birds that can safely ingest the avocado and regurgitate the unpassable seed.


Prehistoric Avo Eaters

Another animal known for consuming the avocado whole and disposing of its pit was the giant prehistoric ground sloth. Now extinct, this large mammal may be part of the reason we still have avocados today.


4. Can Livestock Eat Avocado?

If you have a backyard farm full of animals, it is important to remember that larger animals should also avoid avocado. Keep the fruit away from horses, as well as any ruminants like cattle, sheep, and goats — just because they will eat anything doesn’t mean they should! Even fish should avoid avocados, so keep the scraps out of the fish tank and stick to pellets to prevent increasing the toxicity of the water.


What to Do if Your Pet Eats Avocado

Vets generally advise against sharing table food with your pets, but we all have moments of weakness when we see those puppy eyes. Learn what other foods pets should avoid here, but when in doubt, try to refrain from giving handouts.

Any symptoms of distress should be evaluated and treated by a vet. If you aren’t sure what to do and suspect avocado toxicity, contact the folks at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435), who can help you with advice if your pet has consumed avocado.


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