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Ask a vet: If avocados are dangerous for dogs, what's up with avocado dog food?

November 29, 2009 | 10:31 am

Have a non-emergency question about your pet's health?  Dr. Heather Oxford of L.A. veterinary hospital California Animal Rehabilitation (CARE) is here to help!  In this installment of Ask a Vet, Dr. Oxford tackles canine nutrition -- and a commonly found food that can be harmful to your pets.

Avocado Unleashed: I've heard that avocados are bad for dogs, but I also see avocado dog food on the shelves.  What’s the deal?

Heather Oxford, DVM: The toxic principle in avocados is called persin, a fatty acid derivative that is highly toxic to birds, horses, guinea pigs, goats and rabbits, among others. 

Dogs seem to be less susceptible to the toxic effects; nonetheless, excessive amounts can cause fatal problems with the heart as well as gastrointestinal effects such as vomiting and diarrhea.  Persin is located in highest concentrations in the leaves and is likely in the skin in lower concentrations. 

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.

To submit your question for Dr. Oxford, just leave a comment on this post and look for her answer in an upcoming installment of Ask a Vet!

About our vet: Dr. Oxford received her bachelor of science degree at Bowling Green State University, Ohio.  She also received a master's of public health degree in epidemiology from Emory University and went on to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. She then went to the University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine, where she received her doctor of veterinary medicine degree.  She practices at California Animal Rehabilitation and is also certified in veterinary rehabilitation and acupuncture. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Wade, and German shepherd, Tess.

Photo: Eric Boyd / Los Angeles Times

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