Nuts tend to be confusing to dog lovers. Some nuts are definitely dangerous to dogs such as macadamia nuts while others are perfectly safe. Peanuts aren’t even nuts at all – they are legumes (and they are safe for dogs). What about cashews? Can dogs have cashew nuts? Find out below.
Cashews are native to South America. Some people are allergic to cashews but cashew allergies are not as common as allergies to peanut or tree nuts. Up to 3 percent of adults have cashew allergies; and up to 6 percent of children. Even the shell of the cashew can contain oils, similar to poison ivy, that cause allergic reactions.
Cashews contain 18 percent protein, 44 percent fat, and 30 percent carbohydrates. A 100-gram serving (3.5 ounces) has 553 calories. They are high in copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. They also have moderate amounts of B vitamins, vitamin K, iron, potassium, zinc, and selenium. Cashews are also a source of dietary fiber. They are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
One ounce of cashews is about 18 whole nuts.
The monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in cashews can help lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. This can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack.
It’s been suggested that eating nuts is associated with using more energy while resting. This could help with weight control. Eating nuts on a regular basis may also help reduce the the need to remove the gallbladder.
It’s rare to find foods that are high in copper but cashews are high in this mineral. Copper is important to make collagen, elastin, connective tissue, and the scaffolding for bones.
Genuinely raw cashews are not safe to eat because they contain the substance urushiol – the same toxin found in poison ivy. Cashews are often displayed as “raw” in stores but these nuts have been steamed. Steaming removes the toxin so they are safe.
If you are allergic to nuts in general, you should avoid cashews.
Some brands of cashews are highly salted. It’s best to avoid the saltier brands.
Can you give your dog cashew nuts to eat?
You’ll be happy to know that there is nothing toxic to dogs in cashews. Your dog can safely eat them. However, you should take some precautions.
Despite the nutritional benefits of cashews, they are still high in fat. If your dog eats too many of them, they could increase the risk of pancreatitis.
Pancreatitis is an inflammatory condition that can be acute or chronic. Sometimes the cause is not known but overeating or eating a diet that is high in fat is a suspected cause in many cases.
Symptoms of pancreatitis
- Belly pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Fever or low body temperature
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
If your dog displays these symptoms, contact your veterinarian.
Even if your dog doesn’t develop pancreatitis, eating foods that are high in fat on a regular basis can put extra weight on your dog. Dogs that are overweight or obese should not have cashews in their diet.
In many cases, cashews are mixed with other nuts and ingredients. Some ingredients can include raisins or toxic nuts. If your dog accidentally ingests trail mix, raisins, nuts covered in chocolate, or unknown nuts, contact your vet. Your dog may need urgent treatment.
Cashews are used to make cashew butter and cashew milk. Your dog should be able to consume these products but you should read the label before buying them. Some nut butters have added xylitol or birch sugar (artificial sugar) which is toxic to dogs. Some of these products contain shell fragments and/or stems. Cashew milk may also contain other kinds of tree nuts.
Cashews and mixed nuts that include cashews are also sometimes very salted. If you plan to share cashews with your dog, choose nuts that are unsalted (plain) or low-salt. True salt toxicity is rare in dogs but it is possible. Dogs can become dehydrated from eating salty foods, however, even if they don’t require clinical care. It’s best to limit your dog’s salt intake.
Some dogs, like humans, can be allergic to nuts even when the nuts are not toxic. If you give any nuts, including cashews, to your dog, always watch for any signs of an allergic reaction. Symptoms would include swelling (especially around the mouth and face), itching, and hives. If you notice these symptoms, call your veterinarian.
How many cashew nuts can your dog eat?
Considering the high fat content of cashews, it’s best to only give your dog a few unsalted nuts. Just one ounce of cashews has 157 calories and nearly 13 grams of fat. That is almost one-fourth of the daily calories needed for a dog that weighs 20 pounds and about one-third of the daily fat needed.
You can give a small dog a couple of cashews. Medium and large dogs can eat a few more.
Use caution when giving your dog cashews since they can be choking hazards, especially for small dogs.
How often can you give your dog cashew nuts?
We suggest that you only give your dog plain, unsalted cashews occasionally. The high fat content makes these nuts a potential problem for dogs. They are safe in small amounts as long as they are unsalted or have very low salt. But, too many, too often can lead to weight problems or even pancreatitis.
Cashews are not toxic to dogs. They are safe in small amounts as long as they are unsalted (or low in salt). However, they are high in fat so it’s best to only give them to your dog occasionally. If they are in mixed nuts, use care that you don’t accidentally give your dog other nuts or raisins, especially anything that might be chocolate-coated.