Can Boxers Eat Avocados?

Despite a persistent myth that avocado is toxic to dogs, this fruit is nutritious and safe for your Boxer.

Never feed the skin and remove the seed, which can cause choking and intestinal blockage.

The actual flesh of ripe avocado is fine to feed and has significant health benefits for your Boxer.

Avocados are so packed with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they are considered a superfruit.


This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. I encourage readers to see my full disclaimer here.


Which Parts Of The Avocado Are Safe For Boxer Dogs To Eat?

You can happily feed your Boxer the same part of the avocado that you eat: the flesh.

Avocado skin, stems and leaves should never be consumed as they contain a fungicidal toxin called persin.

There is a very small amount of persin in the flesh and pit (which is a choking and obstruction risk so your dog should not eat it anyway).

According to the well-known integrative veterinarian Dr Karen Becker, the minute amount of persin in avocado flesh is too small to be toxic, and could even be beneficial — small doses of persin have been shown to kill cancer cells.

Nutritional Benefits of Avocados For Boxer Dogs

Avocados contain many valuable nutrients including:

  • folate
  • vitamin K
  • vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin C
  • potassium (even more than bananas)
  • magnesium
  • vitamin E
  • niacin
  • riboflavin

Avocados are low in calories.

They’re beneficial for gut health because they’re high in fiber, and promote a balanced microbiome (the bacteria that live in the gut).

Avocados also contain anti-inflammatory phytonutrients called carotenoids, known for their cancer-fighting properties and their protective effect against heart disease and macular degeneration in the eye.

Another good thing about avocado is that it’s among the fruits that harbor the least pesticide residue.

Avocado tops the Environmental Working Group’s “Clean Fifteen” list, based on analysis of produce samples tested by the US Department of Agriculture.

(Strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes make up the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” of most pesticide-contaminated fruits and vegetables.)

Why Do So Many People Say Avocado Is Toxic For Dogs?

The myth that dogs can’t eat avocado can be traced to a single South African study of two dogs, published in 1994.

The dogs in the study were starving and found an avocado orchard.

They died from heart and organ failure after regularly consuming not just avocado flesh, but also the skin, stems, leaves and bark of the avocado trees.

Avocado leaves are known to be toxic to both people and animals.

(Incidentally, the leaves of the tomato plant are also toxic to dogs.)

The flesh of the avocado is totally safe for dogs — as demonstrated by a Procter & Gamble funded study in 2012.

Beagles ate an extract made from blended avocado pits, skin and flesh for six months with no problems.

You can read the study for yourself. It’s listed in the References below.

Despite the evidence, many organizations that should know better perpetuate the misinformation about avocados.

In doing so, the American Kennel Club, ASPCA and others not only show themselves to be misinformed, but create a lot of unnecessary confusion amongst dog owners .. and deny dogs the benefits of eating avocado.

Even PetMD now acknowledges that avocado flesh is non toxic to dogs and says that dogs would have to eat a large quantity of leaves, bark or peels for it to cause a problem.

The Merck Veterinary Manual says the ingestion of avocado has been associated with poisoning and myocardial necrosis (death of heart muscle) in animals like cattle, goats, horses and birds but says “dogs appear to be relatively resistant compared with other species”.

The persin content of different avocados varies.

Merck says Guatemalan varieties of avocado have most commonly been associated with problems.

According to Whole Dog Journal, one avocado should be fine for a medium-sized dog.

WDJ says too much avocado can cause gastrointestinal upset in both dogs and humans, the signs being vomiting and diarrhea.

But Doesn’t Avocado Contain A Lot Of Fat?

Avocado is high in plant fat, which is healthy for dogs (and people) to consume.

It is the overconsumption of cooked, animal fat that is associated with pancreatitis.

The fat in avocado actually helps your dog’s body absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E and K.

Avocado also contains lipase, the enzyme that breaks down fat .. which helps make the healthy fats in avocado highly digestible and bioavailable. This is the beauty of whole foods.

Avocado fat also contains a substance called avocatin B which, according to a study published in the journal Cancer Research, kills leukemia cells while leaving healthy cells untouched.

How To Feed Avocado To Your Boxer

Your Boxer should never eat these parts of the avocado tree:

  • leaves
  • seed
  • skin
  • stems
  • bark

But nor would you, right?

The highest concentration of the cancer-fighting carotenoids is in the dark green portion of the flesh, closest to the peel, so it’s best to peel the quartered, pitted fruit with your fingers to retain this goodness.

Be sure to feed avocado that’s very ripe.

This is how you should feed all fruits to your dog.

With avocado, there’s added incentive: persin concentration in the flesh is higher in unripe avocados, but negligible in ripe ones.

As when introducing any new food, feed a tiny bit on the first occasion and increase it slowly thereafter.

In any case, avocado will only make up a very small portion of your Boxer’s diet.

In general, fruit and other plant food is best fed separately to meat.

This is one of the principles behind the raw feeding method known as “rotational monofeeding”.

It mirrors the way dogs eat in the wild, consuming meat alone .. but eating fruit when prey is scarce.

It makes sense, because fruits and other plant foods (which are simple sugars and carbohydrate) digest much faster than meat due to its high protein and fat content.

Because avocado has higher fat content than most fruits and plants, it’s probably best fed on its own as a tasty snack for your dog.

If you have to choose whether to either feed it with meat or with other plant foods.. opt to group it with the plants/fruit.

But Why Would You Feed A Boxer Fruit? Aren’t Dogs Carnivores?

Dogs are facultative carnivores, which means they eat meat as their preferred food .. but can maintain themselves on a secondary food (fruit) when prey is scarce.

Feeding fruit to your Boxers has several benefits including:

  • provision of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients
  • hydration (high water content)
  • it provides a break from high-protein meat (rests the kidneys)
  • it digests much faster and more easily than meat (provides more digestive rest, which confers similar benefits to fasting, by allowing the body to direct energy that would have been expended on digestion, to cellular repair and regeneration)
  • incorporating fruit days into your dog’s routine lowers the overall fat content of the diet (dogs in the wild each lean, game meats compared to the products of human agriculture, which are deliberately fattened for slaughter)
  • it mirrors the way dogs eat in the wild (wolves don’t eat meat every day, more like 1-3 times per week or even less in times of scarcity. This is how they are evolutionarily adapted to thrive)

Remember to feed fruit separately to meat, not combined.

Conclusion

Dogs can eat the flesh of ripe avocados, the same as humans can.

It’s important not to give your Boxer avocado skin or other parts of the avocado tree like leaves and stems as these contain the toxic substance persin.

Other fruits your Boxer will love include:

Bananas

Mangoes

Dates

Watermelon

One fruit your Boxer should never eat is:

Grapes

References

Tolerance and safety of an avocado-based ingredient for adult dogs, Gary M Davenport et al, The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal, 1 April 2012

Love Avocados? Thank Man’s Best Friend, Dr Karen Becker, August 23, 2018, Mercola Healthy Pets

Targeting Mitochondria with Avocatin B Induces Selective Leukemia Cell Death, Eric A Lee et al, Cancer Research, June 15 2015

Avocado, Sharon M Gwaltney-Brant, DVM, Merck Veterinary Manual, May 2013

Can Dogs Eat Avocado?, Jordan Gigler, Whole Dog Journal, June 12, 2018

Are Avocados Poisonous to Dogs?, Sandra C Mitchell, DVM, PetMD, June 13, 2019

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