There’s a lot to go nuts for when it comes to cashews. These creamy, protein-rich nuts are high in fiber, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and immune-boosting nutrients like zinc and magnesium. They’re also high in copper, which is good for our joints and our bones. There’s no doubt that getting more cashews in our diet is a smart idea, but does the same apply to our dogs?
Like a wide range of other healthy human foods, cashews are actually okay for your pup—but they’re not a necessary part of providing them with a balanced diet. Here’s what to know about feeding your dog cashews, plus what to look out for so you can ensure you’re not doing more harm than good.
Can Dogs Eat Cashews?
Cashews are one of a few different nut varieties that are generally considered safe to feed our canine friends (others, like macadamia nuts and walnuts, can actually be toxic). But like most tasty things in life, moderation is key. The protein, fiber, and healthy fats found in cashews can become troublesome when fed in large amounts. This is true for us as well as our dogs, but dogs have a much lower threshold for when too much is, well, too much.
As a starting guideline, skip salted cashews. Our dogs’ stomachs aren’t designed to handle much sodium, and excessive salt in their diet can lead to dehydration and gastrointestinal distress. So stick to plain cashews if you’re going to feed them, and definitely don’t feed any cashews with additional flavors on them.
Another important rule: feed cashews to your dog sparingly. All that fat—heart-healthy as it is—can pose a problem for overweight pups. In some cases, too much fat in your dog’s diet can even lead to pancreatitis—a serious illness that requires immediate treatment from a veterinarian.
And finally, go slow when introducing any new food, cashews included. It’s possible that your dog has certain food allergies you’re not aware of because they haven’t yet been introduced to the food. And some human foods may just not settle well with a dog’s stomach even if they’re deemed okay for them to eat. As the benevolent human in their life, it’s your job to monitor their diet closely and not put them in a situation where issues can occur. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include itching, swelling, and skin issues like redness and hives. Be on the lookout for any other signs of stomach distress as well, particularly serious ones like vomiting and diarrhea.
How to Feed Cashews to Dogs
Want to see if your dog likes cashews? Follow the guidelines above, and only choose a packaged, unsalted raw or roasted variety. Because other nuts can be quite toxic to our canine friends, it’s important that you do not feed your dog cashews out of a variety pack. As we know from incidences of allergic reactions to nuts in people, it only takes a very small amount of exposure to cause complications.
As for cashew butter, most varieties that you find in the store will have additional ingredients like added and/or excessive salt, sugars, or oils that should be avoided. You could consider making your own dog-safe cashew butter for your pup by combining 1 cup of unsalted cashews with a dash of honey in a food processor and blending until smooth. But again, you’ll want to use moderation in serving it.
In total, treats usually shouldn’t make up any more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Since cashews are high in calories (nearly 10 calories per nut), less is definitely more. This goes double if your dog is overweight or not very active. And if your dog has any sort of existing stomach issues or food allergies, you may be better off sticking to dog-friendly foods that aren’t quite so rich.
Nuts That Are Dangerous to Dogs
Cashews may be fine for your furry one in moderation, but some nuts need to be avoided at all costs due to their toxicity to canines. If you’re going to see if your dog goes nuts for nuts, make sure you’re avoiding the following types:
- Macadamia nuts
- Hickory nuts
As for cashews, give ‘em a try. They might just become one of your dog’s favorite once-in-a-while treats.
Salt. Animal Poison Control Center, 2020
Are Nut Butters Safe for Dogs? Rau Animal Hospital, 2020
Animal Poison Control Alert: Macadamia Nuts are Toxic to Dogs. ASPCA Animal Poison Control, 2020