Avocado

Poisonous to+

cats, dogs, cows, birds

Level of toxicity+

In dogs and cats: mild. In other species (e.g., birds, ruminants, etc.), moderate to severe.

Common signs to watch for+

In dogs and cats:
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Lack of stool production

In birds:
Inability to perch
Difficulty breathing
Organ failure
Death

In ruminants:
Acute death

Description+

Avocado contains a toxin called persin, but despite the rumors, avocado is not poisonous to dogs, nor likely to cats. Only certain species are poisoned by persin. While dogs and cats don’t seem to be affected by persin, avocado poisoning can be deadly to birds and large animals (such as cattle). The bigger risk to dogs and cats is a foreign body obstruction, which can occur if the dog swallowed the whole large, round avocado seed; due to size alone, this seed can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract of dogs.

Pet birds should never be fed avocado, as canaries, parakeets, cockatiels and large parrots are extremely susceptible to persin toxicity. Signs of persin poisoniong in birds includes the inability to perch, respiratory distress, fluid accumulation around the bird’s heart and lungs, liver and kidney failure, and sudden death.

If you suspect your pet has avocado poisoning, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for treatment advice.

Alternate names+

Persea americana

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Avocado

Pictured: Avocado
Photo by: Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC