Research is showing that humans benefit from healthy fats by increasing our immune systems, assisting in our cognitive function, and improving the health of our bodies. This might leave you wondering how healthy fats can help your dog’s health. Avocados are tasty and full of nutrients and antioxidants, but are they safe to feed to your dog?
Can You Feed Your Dog Avocados?
The meat of avocados are quite healthy with their dense concentration of nutrients and fatty acids, but the skin and core of the avocado can be toxic because they contain persin, a chemical that is poisonous to some animals. Guatemalan avocados, the most common kind found in grocery stores, have the highest amount of persin. Of the most common household pets, birds and rabbits are the most sensitive to avocados and they can experience difficulty breathing, fluid build-up around the heart, and congestion. Some can die depending on how much they’ve eaten or how sensitive they are to the persin.
Dogs, luckily, won’t show these more severe symptoms. Some dogs might end up with mild stomach upset, but they won’t show the deadly side effects their avian counterparts might. The biggest danger comes from eating the pit. Because of its size, it can wind up getting wedged in the intestines and cause an obstruction. Intestinal obstructions can be deadly if they aren’t treated with surgery. If you suspect your dog ate the pit, you should seek veterinary attention immediately.
The Dangers of Too Much Fatty Foods, Like Avocados
Too much fat in your dog’s diet has similar effects on dogs as it does humans. Of course, too much fat will lead to your dog becoming overweight or obese. Dogs that are significantly overweight are more prone to developing diabetes, which can be difficult to manage in dogs. Smaller dogs are also more likely to wind up with joint problems from carrying too much weight. These can vary from mild knee problems to disorders requiring expensive orthopedic surgery.
But the biggest danger from excessive fat consumption is pancreatitis. While gradually eating excess fat everyday won’t lead to the disorder, the same can’t be said for gorging on fat in one sitting. Eating a lot of avocados can cause pancreatitis, so if your dog seems to have a taste for them, it’s important to keep them where your dog (especially if he’s a counter-surfer) can’t reach them. Pancreatitis is a very painful inflammation of the pancreas. Dogs affected will have no appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, a very painful abdomen, and a fever. Dogs with a painful abdomen will walk around with a hunched back and seem like they’re tip-toeing around when they move.
Options Besides Avocado for Fat in the Diet
If your vet has recommended your dog needs more fat in their diet, there are a few ways to do so. Dogs get their omega-6 fatty acids in meat products, but omega-3 acids are found in plants and fish. With your vet’s guidance, you can supplement your dog’s diet with fish oil capsules or things like soybean or flax oils.
If you’re feeding your dog something that isn’t quite natural to their diet, it’s important to talk to your vet before letting him have it. Like everything, some things are better in moderation than excess.