Cashews are those light brown, kidney-shaped nuts that come from a tropical tree called, simply enough, a cashew tree. For humans, cashews are a nutritious snack packed with a wide variety of nutrients like vitamin K and vitamin B6. They offer a great source of fiber, a low source of sugar, and enough copper to support energy and brain development. While they’re a delicious antioxidizing treat for us, can the same be said for our canine companions?
Feeding Cashews to Your Dog
Unlike walnuts and macadamia nuts, cashews are mostly safe and non-toxic for dogs to eat, but they do not possess any positive dieting factors for them. That said, cashews are only considered safe for dogs in small quantities. If your pup simply enjoys cashews as a treat, avoid variety packs and other packaged assortments of nuts. Some nuts are extremely toxic and can be a choking hazard to dogs which can cause more problems than you should bargain for. Firstly, make sure your dog doesn’t have an allergic reaction to cashews, which can manifest itself as itching, biting, or sneezing.
Protein Protein is a must-have for dogs’ health. The amino acids eaten by dogs are received through protein and develop strong muscles and healthy skin and hair. However, there are risks involved with eating too many cashews which have a high concentration of protein. The protein content in cashews isn’t digested easily by our dogs. Dogs can have meat, eggs, and dairy to achieve an optimized level of proteins that best suits their digestive system. The inability to digest the high protein volume in cashews can cause intestinal blockages, especially for small breeds of dogs.
Dogs are very efficient in digesting fats, but the high amount of fat in just one cashew can cause their pancreas to go into overdrive. The pancreas works hard to create enzymes that help the rest of the digestive tract break down food. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, it will start to release those enzymes within itself. When the digestive enzymes are being expelled the pancreas is essentially digesting itself. This is called pancreatitis. Pancreatitis is a potentially life-threatening condition that requires veterinary care. The difference between supportive care, hospitalization, or death for your pup depends on how early you can catch the disease.
Furthermore, extremely fatty foods will lead to obesity in dogs. Regularly consuming fatty foods like cashews will increase the likelihood of developing issues related to obesity including joint inflammation and diabetes.
Cashews with seasonings on them can be a problem for dogs. Dogs are extremely “allergic” to certain flavors that are derived from other plants. For instance, onions are very bad for dogs. They contain thiosulfate, which can cause red blood cell damage in dogs and are overall toxic. They should be avoided in all forms, including seasonings. The same goes for any other member of the “allium” family of vegetables, like garlic and leeks. Garlic is used in combinations of several different seasonings on food. Therefore, ingesting flavored cashews such as sour cream and onion could cause serious problems.
If salted cashews are consumed in high volumes, they can cause water retention. Even in humans, overly ingesting salt can be toxic. Our dogs’ bodies work the same way, except we can handle much more than they can. If they eat too much salt, their cells increase fluid intake to compensate for a large amount of sodium. As a result, their bellies will appear to be round, and after prolonged ingestion of salted cashews, they could be gaining a substantial amount of weight. What’s worse, is once salt becomes toxic and too much to handle, they will begin vomiting, tremoring, and experiencing seizures.
Buying cashew butter may seem like a good idea to bypass the dangerous qualities mentioned previously. However, cashew butter still has the potential to have added salts, sugars, or oils that could be dangerous to your dog. Many times, store-bought cashew butter could have even higher concentrations of negatively impacting ingredients. You could consider making your own cashew butter out of unsalted, unseasoned cashews, but you will still need to err on the side of caution and monitor how much you feed your pet.
What Can Your Dog Eat?
We want our dogs to be happy and healthy. When they start begging for our food during our dear snack time, remember that there are some foods that they can’t enjoy without getting sick. Try opting for one of these treats instead.
Not all nuts are toxic, but some are just a little safer to eat. They don’t benefit from them nutritionally, but in case they’re whining for a snack, dogs can eat pistachios and peanuts just fine. They still contain high volumes of fat, so they should only be consumed in small quantities. Also, always make sure they’re not salted or seasoned.
Many fruits can be valuable supplements in your dog’s diet. For example, dogs can have bananas, apples, cantaloupe (and other melons, like watermelon), kiwis, oranges, and mango, to name a few. Other fruits are considered quite healthy for dogs, including blueberries, cucumbers, and cranberries. Avoid raisins and grapes should be avoided. Cherries are not considered safe because their pits and stems can be considered choking hazards. The same can be said for plums.
As mentioned earlier, alliums like onions and garlic are toxic to your dog. Instead, dogs can eat green beans, carrots, broccoli, spinach, kale, and a few other vegetables. These vegetables are great sources of fiber and vitamins that are beneficial for dogs. Remember that many of these vegetables are still considered supplements to their balanced diet and shouldn’t substitute for a well-balanced diet.
Some beans are still an excellent source of fiber and protein for dogs. Dogs can have beans in the variety of kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo, lima, soy, and butter. Beans can make them gassy, though. Try not to feed them too many beans so they don’t get upset stomachs.
Dogs can eat seafood as long as it doesn’t have high mercury content. If you feed your dog the meat of shellfish, and not the shells or the meat of the fin fish and not the bones, your dog will enjoy the food. Make sure the seafood is thoroughly cooked. Seafood like crab, lobster, shrimp, tuna, salmon, scallops, sardines, and mackerel contains low levels of fat and high levels of digestible protein. They are all great sources of omega-3s.
There is a wide variety of healthy, easily digestible foods and treats out there for your dog to eat. It’s a great idea to pay attention to their diet preferences and allergies so you know what they will try to snag when you’re not looking. Likewise, you will know which snacks are best to avoid altogether. Dogs have different digestive and health needs than we do. Some things that we find delicious are considered dangerous and toxic for them to eat.
Cashews happen to be one of the more innocent foods that aren’t necessarily poisonous but should still be given in small quantities. Anything in excess can be a problem, but the occasional cashew for a dog shouldn’t be considered dangerous and are generally safe to eat if they don’t have any allergies.