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A bowl of cashews

The essentials

  • Cashews aren’t toxic — But overly salty, processed nut mixes are bad for your dog’s health. If you use cashews as an occasional treat, opt for natural options.
  • What about cashew butter? — Raw, unsalted, “pure” cashews in any form are deemed clinically “safe” for your dog to eat in moderation.
  • Some might not be so “nuts” for nuts — Like humans, dogs can have nut allergies, though they may manifest differently. Most canines get skin disruptions while some might have breathing disruptions.

Savory, sweet, and deliciously crunchy — it’s no wonder our furry friends love to snack on a nut every once in a while. If you’re concerned because your pet got into the cashew bowl, don’t be (unless you have macadamia nuts hiding in there!) Cashews are generally safe for dogs, so long as they aren’t overly processed, salted, or mixed with other nuts.

Here’s what you need to know about nut safety for your dog.

Can my dog eat cashews?

Yes — but before you go buying a can for your furry friend’s treat time, let’s discuss your pet’s nutritional needs.

Dogs need protein

Dogs are omnivores , meaning they can enjoy both meat and plant sources of dietary nutrition. Unlike cats, they can get their protein from a range of options, including meat such as beef or chicken, or veggies like peas, sweet potatoes, and spinach.

Nuts might fit into this nutritional landscape for some pups, acting as an occasional treat after a training session. With an estimated 5 grams of protein per ounce, they’re a great plant-based solution if you’re looking to add more to your dog’s diet.

About 22-33% of a puppy’s diet should come from protein, a need that should slowly level off as they reach their next life stage. Since nuts offer valuable protein (but would likely have to be given in extremely high amounts to satisfy regular dietary needs), most owners enjoy giving them as treats.

As with all aspects of your dog’s nutrition, it’s best to connect with a vet and ask about your pet’s specific dietary needs prior to feeding them any treat.

Other vitamins and minerals important to a dog’s diet

Much like humans, dogs need a range of vitamins and minerals to stay healthy over the course of their lifetime. Below, we’ve compiled a short list of the vitamins and minerals found in cashews that could benefit your pup’s health.

  • Vitamin K  This vitamin supports healthy blood flow and clotting in your pet.
  • Vitamin B6 — This is one of the most important vitamins in your pet’s diet, helping regulate nervous system function and your pet’s immune system.
  • Magnesium — This element helps form strong bones in your pet.
  • Copper — This compound helps red blood cells form and encourages a healthy absorption of iron.
  • Manganese — This element is considered a trace element, and is important for your pet’s bone and cartilage health.

Fiber and fats in canine diet

Your furry friend needs both fiber and healthy fats to live a long, happy life. These two elements help to:

Regulate your dog’s bowel movements. Fiber helps your dog at many steps in the digestive process. After fermenting, it breaks down into fatty acids, reducing overgrowth and discomfort. It also bulks up the poop so your dog can pass waste easily and efficiently.

Support healthy neurological function. Fats directly contribute to the health and wellness of your dog’s brain. This is why healthy fats are important in a pet’s diet; even small amounts can enhance function.

Regulate their blood sugar. Fiber doesn’t just help the GI tract — it goes the extra mile and helps your pet regulate their blood sugar, slowing the digestive process and allowing complete absorption to occur.

Support healthy weight. Fiber helps your pet stay at a healthy weight, allowing them to feel fuller with fewer calories.

Cashews are rich in fiber and have large quantities of healthy fats. The same is true for treats like cashew butter and cashew milk.

👉 Remember: Cashews are safe for your dog so long as they are not fed consistently in large quantities, and so long as they are plain cashews (unsalted cashews that are otherwise unflavored). 

Possible health benefits of feeding your dog cashews

Beyond being a great snack for our canine companions, cashews offer a wealth of potential health benefits for your pet. Here are just a few of the perks you’ll get after adding these nuts to your treat rotation:

  • A healthy antioxidant boost — Antioxidants are invaluable, helping your pet reduce the amount of harmful free radicals that naturally occur as a result of aging . This helps to ward off cancer and other diseases, managing inflammation and healthy cell replication.
  • A healthier immune system — Omega fatty acids play a vital role in immune regulation and coat health — and cashews are rich in these compounds.
  • A well-rounded nutritional treat — Cashews are packed with high fat content, fiber, protein and compounds like zinc, iron, and copper, keeping your friend fuller for longer (and boosting their potential benefit).

🛑 While uncommon in dogs, cashew nuts can be an allergen to some pets. If you’re concerned that your dog got into a handful of cashews, call your veterinarian and watch for signs of an allergic reaction — such as skin disruptions, GI issues, or trouble breathing. 

Possible risks of feeding your dog cashews

Now that you know the possible benefits, it’s time to look at the risks that pet parents may face when feeding large amounts of cashews to their dogs:

  • Pancreatitis — This condition occurs when the pancreas is inflamed, causing GI upset, blood pressure issues, and sepsis. Pancreatitis is linked to overconsumption of cashews, as they have an incredibly high amount of fat compared to the rest of their nutritional profile.
  • Kidney malfunction — Kidney issues can occur if you feed your dog cashew nuts that contain salt, which might throw off your pet’s kidney function if they are consumed in large amounts.
  • Gastrointestinal distress — General stomach upset happens if your pet eats too many cashews due to the high amount of fiber in each nut. It can also cause intestinal obstruction if your dog gets into too many.
  • Weight gain — This can happen if your dog eats too many cashews, as the high fat content and fiber can cause weight gain.

How to safely feed cashews to dogs 

It is possible to feed your dog cashews in a way that boosts your dog’s health. Unlike other types of human food that can lead to health problems later, cashews have a relatively low risk profile when fed in small quantities (like as a treat!)

Here’s a few tips to consider the next time you feed your dog cashews!

Choose the right cashews. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (because it’s just that important!) Choosing the right cashews can make the difference between helping and harming your pet. Cashews in a mix or flavored cashews can have toxic ingredients that harm your pet, causing abdominal pain or liver damage.

  • The size of the nut can also cause potential problems. It should be small enough to not be a choking hazard. Depending on the size of your pet, you might consider chopping the nuts to preserve the nutrients without the risk of airway obstruction.

Select the proper portion. Too many cashews can wreak havoc on dogs’ stomachs. The key? Finding just the right amount for your furry friend. Generally, you can give this healthy treat in a quantity that doesn’t exceed one ounce — giving your pet the benefit of the essential nutrients without the risk of obstruction.

Give everything in moderation. This can be true for any treat — whether it’s green beans or another pet-safe food. Too much of anything can cause health concerns, which is why it’s best to start with small pieces in moderate amounts.

  • General guidelines for giving this healthy treat can vary depending on your pet’s size. After all — what might work for a 10-pound dog or a 20-pound dog wouldn’t work for a larger, 50-75-pound dog! Consider reaching out to your vet for the best recommendation for your furry friend.

Other safe nuts and seeds for dogs 

Now that we know that whole cashews are OK for your dog, you might be wondering: Are there other safe nuts and seeds for dogs? After all, nuts and seeds can be a good source of protein for pets in moderation.

The good news (and short answer) is, yes! There are other nuts and seeds that can be fed in small portions that offer a low number of risks.

Here are some example nuts and seeds that your dog will enjoy, actin as great sources of fiber for your furry friend:

  • Pumpkin seeds These delicious treats are high in fat and offer essential nutrients, such as magnesium and selenium. They’re also high in iron, which is great if your dog is living with a condition like anemia.
    • Due to their fat content, however, health issues can occur if too many are given at one time. The general guidelines recommend one seed be given (ground up or chopped) per 10 pounds of your dog’s weight. This lowers your dog’s risk of diagnoses like heart disease or pancreatitis that can be caused by excess dietary fat.
  • PeanutsThis nut is considered “safe,” so long as it is given in a raw, unsalted, dry-roasted form. However, many owners might find that their dogs don’t care for peanuts due to the blandness of the treat compared to others.

Frequently asked questions

What happens if a dog eats a cashew?

Likely nothing, unless your furry friend has had too much or has a food allergy. The nuts are generally non toxic for dogs, making them a high-fat and high-protein option for pets who might have a special diet.

What nuts are toxic to dogs?

There are certain nuts that can cause a problem for dogs — such as walnuts and macadamia nuts. These are in a lot of mixed nut combinations, so it is imperative you do not give any mixed nuts to your dog. Common symptoms to watch for if your pet gets into these include stomach upset, obstruction, or seizures, as these nuts are very prone to tremor-causing mold growth.

Can my dog eat moldy nuts?

Any source of moldy food can pose an issue to your dog. Even a trace amount can lead to ataxia (trouble walking and balancing) or seizures, depending on the pet’s size. If you’re concerned about possible ingestion, always reach out to your vet.

Do cashews mold?

Cashews can mold, as they have a significant amount of trace liquid and moisture in each nut. Signs of bad cashews include a rancid taste and odor, visible mold growth, and slimy texture.

What does it mean when cashews have black spots or holes?

This generally means that bugs got to your pet’s treats before they did — and the nuts should be tossed out. The damage can lead to a bitter, unpleasant taste, and possible mold growth. This can be harmful for your dog.