Holy Guacamole! Here’s what you need to know if your pet ate avocado
The avocado plant, Persea americana, is toxic to many animals, but in varying degrees. If your cat or dog ate an avocado or chewed on the plant, it’s important to know what to watch for. Let’s discuss avocado toxicity, including expected symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and other possible emergencies!
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Why is it dangerous for pets to eat avocado?
The toxin, persin, is in the seeds (pit), skin, fruit pulp, and leaves of avocado plants. It exists in highest concentration in the leaves. Avocados from Guatemala seem to be highest in persin. This can cause gastrointestinal upset in dogs (vomiting and diarrhea) but can be much more toxic and even fatal in other animals (birds, horses, rodents, and large farm animals such as cows, goats, sheep).
Birds are the most sensitive and can easily die from even a small amount of avocado ingestion, as it can affect their liver, kidneys, lungs, and heart. Large animals tend to develop edema (swelling) around the head and neck, mastitis, and/or heart damage.
What will happen if my dog eats avocado?
In dogs, the bigger concern may be if the avocado pit is swallowed. This can cause stomach or intestinal obstruction, requiring emergency surgery.
However, the fruit itself can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) due to its high fat content. Pancreatitis can range from a very mild gastrointestinal upset to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, hospitalization for multiple days with supportive care, and even death in severe cases.
Is avocado safe for dogs in small amounts?
For the reasons noted above, even though avocado in small amounts may not be harmful to a dog, it’s better to avoid it. The consequences of avocado toxicity may be uncertain and/or severe. In fact, there are a few cases of reported myocardial necrosis (death of heart tissue), which typically occurs in birds and large animals only, but it’s still not worth risking illness in our pets.
What should I do if my dog ate avocado?
If you believe your dog ingested any part of an avocado plant, contact your veterinarian. Depending on the size, age, and health of your pet as well as the amount of avocado and part of the plant consumed, they may need decontamination and treatment. This could include making the pet vomit and providing supportive care such as IV fluids and nausea medication.
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