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Can dogs eat cashews? This is a question that you and other pet parents may have wondered about as you consider what food you can safely give to your furry friend. The short answer is that, while dogs can safely eat cashews, I really do not recommend that your dog eat cashews — or most other nuts for that matter. At least, not in large quantities.
Dogs are known for their love of food and their ability to eat just about anything. But that doesn’t mean that all foods are safe for dogs to consume.
Why Shouldn’t Dogs Eat Cashews?
Cashews are a type of nut that is often enjoyed as a snack by us humans. I like these tasty tropical nuts myself, but for my dogs? Not so much.
Yes, cashews are high in nutrition. Can’t argue with that. Cashews are wonderful sources of healthy fats and protein, and they are a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium and zinc. They’re also non-toxic to puppers. However, when it comes to dogs, they’re not exactly the best choice for a healthy diet. And these are the reasons why:
1. Cashews have a high fat content.
One of the main reasons why cashews are not recommended for dogs is that they are high in fat. While dogs do need some fats in their diet, too much can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Cashews are also high in calories, which can contribute to weight gain if given in large quantities.
Don’t attempt giving your overweight dog cashews or other tasty nuts. These are gonna wreck your pet’s diet. But if you only intend on giving these nuts occasionally and to your not-so-chonky dog, feeding your pet cashews is fine.
2. Cashews can cause gastrointestinal issues.
Another of my concerns with cashews is that they can upset your dog’s stomach and cause gastrointestinal issues. Cashews are not easily digestible for dogs, and can cause a stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is especially true if a dog is not used to eating nuts, or if they are given too many nuts at once.
3. Cashews may contain aflatoxins.
In addition to the above concerns, cashews contain the risk of carrying a substance called aflatoxin, which is a toxic compound produced by certain types of mold. Aflatoxin contamination can affect different nut varieties, and cashews are one of them.
While the risk of aflatoxin contamination is not quite as high for cashew nuts as they are for other nuts, it’s still a bit of a risk. And one that is easily preventable.
I’d like to make one thing clear, though. Cashews for sale contain only a maximum of 4 pbb aflatoxin for every kilogram, and the maximum allowable by the US Food and Drug Administration for any food is 20 pbb. So the 4 pbb is actually a small amount.
You can feed your dog cashews if you wish because a small amount of aflatoxins may not cause your dog any harm, but take care not to do it frequently or in large amounts. It’s best to limit the amount of cashews that a dog consumes to be on the safe side.
4. Feeding your dog too many cashews can lead to pancreatitis.
Nuts in general can be harmful to dogs as they are high in fat and oil, and consuming a high fat meal consistently might lead to a serious condition called pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is a condition that affects the pancreas, which is an important organ responsible for producing hormones and enzymes that aid in digestion. When a dog consumes a high-fat diet, it can cause the pancreas to become inflamed and stop functioning properly.
This can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, the disease can even lead to death.
5. Feeding your dog cashews may lead to choking.
Cashews are considered a choking hazard, much like other small hard foods. Dogs have a tendency to swallow food whole, and cashews, being a hard and dense food, can be difficult for them to chew and digest properly. This can lead to blockages in the airway, which can be dangerous and even fatal.
6. Feeding your dog cashews may trigger an allergic reaction.
The chances of your dog developing an allergic reaction to cashews is relatively low because nut allergies are pretty rare in canines. But remember that it only takes a little amount to trigger a full-on allergic reaction.
Be watchful when giving your pet new food for the first time and check for symptoms of food allergies, such as itching, hives, and swelling.
7. Feeding cashews may lead to bladder stones.
Feeding your dog cashews frequently may lead to serious illness and health issues down the road. Cashews are excellent sources of phosphorus, but feeding too many cashews and often can directly harm your dog’s kidneys and cause them to malfunction.
How About Cashew Butter or Other Cashew Products?
Cashew butter is a spread made from ground cashews and is often used as a substitute for peanut butter. Pups think it’s yummy (because it is!), and it’s sometimes used in doggie treats. However, just like cashew nuts, its butter form is also high in fat and calories, and can cause the same health issues.
Can dogs eat cashew butter? Yes, but I don’t recommend this at all as part of your pup’s regular snack. (I know of some dog owners who give their furry buddies small chunks of pure nut butter as a treat, and this is a big no-no!) However, if the cashew butter is an ingredient in a dog training treat or snack that you don’t habitually give or only dole out in small amounts, it would be totally fine.
Dangerous Nuts To Feed Your Dog: Macadamia Nuts & Black Walnuts
So we talked about cashew nuts and how they can be safe if given to your dog in moderation. Your next question might be, “Are there nuts that are considered toxic?” Yes, there are.
1. Black Walnuts
Black walnuts get their name from black mold and are highly toxic and dangerous to your dog’s health. Ingesting these can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and tremors in your canine.
2. Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts are often included in lists of foods that you should never give to your dog. Canines that ingest these nuts may display weakness, lack of coordination, vomiting, tremors, overheating, and depression.
One or two pecan nuts, and your dog might be fine. More than that, and these nuts can pose dangerous health risks to your dog. Pecans contain juglone, a substance that is highly toxic to dogs.
Researchers don’t know what is it in a couple of these nuts that affects a dog so much as they don’t affect humans nor cats. But whatever the specific toxins are that can make dogs so ill, remember that even small quantities can cause a severe reaction. If you’re tempted to give your dog even a little taste, don’t.
Safe Nuts To Give Your Dog
Unlike macadamia nuts or pecans, which are both dangerous to feed to your canine companion, there are also nuts that are safe to give your pet once in a while. Aside from feeding your dog cashews, you can also give your dog these:
1. Plain peanuts
Peanuts are legumes, and you often see legumes like peas and lentils in dog foods. Like cashews, peanuts are healthy and tasty things that a lot of our canine companions enjoy. If you’re going to toss a few of these to your dog, make sure that they’re shelled.
2. English walnut
This kind of walnut is generally safe to feed your dog, but offer these sparingly and not as a whole piece to avoid choking and blocking issues.
3. Pine nuts
These aren’t technically classified as toxic for a dog, but these have a really high fat content so they’re not something your dog should be eating on the daily.
Can Dogs Eat Cashews?
So, can dogs eat cashews safely? Yes, in moderation (roasted cashews only, NOT raw!), although there are other healthy alternatives. While cashews are not toxic to dogs, they are not the best choice for a healthy diet. If you do want to give your dog a treat, there are many other options that are healthier and more appropriate.
Aside from cashews, there are many other types of nuts that are safe for dogs to eat (but always in moderation!). Keep in mind, though, that even if these are non-toxic, nuts are not completely safe because they still pose a choking hazard for your pup.
It's also important to remember that while cashews can be a good source of protein, healthy fats, and other nutrients, they should not make up a large portion of a dog's diet. Dogs are primarily carnivorous, so their diet should be mostly meat-based.
If you do decide to feed cashews or other types of nuts to your pet, make sure to give these in small quantities and preferably in pieces rather than as a whole. And always opt for the unsalted and unseasoned option when you feed your dog.