Can I Give My Dog Cashews?
Even toddlers who have grown up with dogs are well aware of the canine fondness for peanut butter—every dog, from the massive drooling Saint Bernard to the tiniest, most refined toy Poodle will eagerly lick peanut butter off any given surface. Many jars of peanut butter have fallen to the tongues of our beloved canine companions, and most of us do not think twice about feeding our pets moderate amounts of the child-friendly nut butter.
Since (xylitol-free) peanut butter is a perfectly fine treat for pups, most of us are more than happy to share the occasional peanut with our dogs. But, as you examine your bag of trail mix, you may find yourself wondering: “Are all nuts good for dogs?” In a world where our friends carry Epi-Pens and many public schools ban many nuts outright, we are understandably cautious when it comes to feeding anyone—whether they be our toddlers or our beloved dogs—a new nut.
The ever-popular cashew, now frequently used as a nondairy substitute for cheese in vegan dishes, is one of those nuts. We love to snack on the little kidney-shaped nuts, but what about our dogs? Can our dogs grow into the fancy cashew butter the way we have, or do they have to stay at the kids’ table with the peanut butter lovers?
The answer: In small amounts, cashews are okay to feed to most dogs. They are about as safe as peanut butter, and so long as they have not gone rancid, they should not cause any harm. That being said it is important to keep the serving size small—while nuts are linked to health and longevity in humans, they are not as much of a superfood for our omnivorous canine friends.
While many of us rely on cashews for healthy fats, dogs do not need these mild-tasting nuts in order to maintain optimal health. The only potential benefit is thanks to the high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, which can help fight dry skin, reduce inflammation, and maintain a healthy, shiny coat. Though they also contain high amounts of antioxidants, they are not an ideal source for dogs. If you are looking for high-antioxidant, cancer-fighting foods, you may be better off finding specially formulated dog food or treats.
When it comes to dogs, nuts really cannot even be considered a ‘medicinal’ food—there are almost no health benefits for dogs who eat cashews in any amount. While they do contain small amounts of fiber, they also contain quite a bit of fat. If you are looking for a way to add fiber to your dog’s diet, it may be a better idea to turn to natural foods in the vegetable family, such as carrots.
That being said, when used as a rare treat, cashews are not a terrible food to introduce to your dogs. Assuming the cashews you choose are not heavily flavored, they are a natural, whole food, which means that your dog will not be exposed to potentially dangerous artificial colors or sweeteners. In addition, cashews are slightly lower in fat than other nuts (like pecans or macadamia nuts), which means that they are one of the better nuts you can feed your dog.
Things to Keep in Mind
While the occasional cashew probably will not hurt your dog, it is important to keep serving sizes small and pay attention to how your dog’s body responds. If your dog has any health problems like pancreatitis or digestive issues, they should not eat any nuts whatsoever. The high fat content can worsen their symptoms, and, if consumed in high enough doses, may put their life at risk. Dogs who are overweight should avoid nuts, too, because the high calorie content may greatly increase their risk of weight gain, bladder stones, gall stones, and even heart problems.
Just as in humans, nuts are one of the most common allergens in our canine friends. If your dog eats cashews and exhibits symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, extreme thirst, hives, or facial swelling, stop feeding them nuts and take them to your veterinarian immediately. While a mild allergy may just be unpleasant, severe nut allergies can be life-threatening. Just like people with nut allergies, dogs with nut allergies are at risk of going into anaphylactic shock, which is fatal if left untreated.
While there are some health risks associated with cashews, in most circumstances, it is okay to feed your dog these nuts every once in a while. If you do make the decision to feed your healthy dog a couple cashews as a treat, go for roasted options that are relatively low in salt—raw cashews are poisonous, and added salt is unhealthy for dogs (and for people!). Just remember to keep the serving size small and to monitor your dog for any adverse health effects.
Dog Eating Cashews Video: