FoodFact: Can Pet Dogs or Cats Eat Cashew Nuts?
Cashews have always been the super nut for Indians. Once considered a privilege of the rich, Cashew (Kaju)- the smooth, cream-colored nut has now become an integral part of Indian delicacies. Whether it be savory breakfast dishes like Upma or our favorite Gaajar ka Halwa, it can be added in any dish to enhance its flavor and texture. Its high-fiber, high-vitamin content also makes it an excellent on-the-go snack! But like humans, can dogs and cats eat Cashews too?
In a nutshell (pun intended), yes, in moderation for dogs. But a strict NO for cats. Cashews are high on fats so they need to be given in small quantities to dogs, and just like humans, you need to watch out for signs of allergies in them or consult a pet nutritionist before feeding it to them.
So where does this super snack originate from?
Cashew Nuts, botanically known as Anacardium Occidentale is related to the family of mango, pistachio & poison ivy. They require warm and humid conditions to grow so it originated in Brazil, and slowly spread to the Indian and East African sub-continents via the Portuguese sailors in the 16th Century. Now they are grown widely in countries like Vietnam, Brazil, India, Indonesia & Nigeria among others.
India’s love for Cashews!
Cashew Nuts are highly popular in India. You can find a jar full of them in almost every household and are likely to be served sweets made of them during festivals. The major reason is that Cashwes are relatively cheaper and easily available in the market, unlike other nuts like almonds, walnuts, etc. Cashews can also be used in a variety of Indian delicacies. They can be roasted, fried or eaten raw and can be easily stored owing to their long shelf-life.
Also, the Indian sub-continent has suitable geographical and climatic conditions to grow Cashews. This makes us one of the highest producers & consumers of Cashew Nuts in the world. We are also the second highest exporters of Cashews in the global market and even export the cashew shell liquid extracted from the nut. It is widely grown in the Souther & Western states of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Goa & Maharashtra since the Portuguese got them here.
Do Cashews have any nutritional value?
Cashew Nuts are rightly known as the super snack. They are a powerhouse of energy and contain the goodness of vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. A 100 gms serving of cashews contains 553 calories, making it a perfect mid-day snack! Cashews are also rich in Monounsaturated Fatty Acids like oleic, palmitoleic, and Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids like Omega-3. These help lower the Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) Cholesterol, considered ‘bad cholesterol’ and increase the High-density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol, preventing coronary artery disease and strokes in humans.
They also have an abundance of essential minerals like manganese, potassium, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium & selenium – some of which act as a co-factor for enzymes, and are powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants help reduce inflammation. Increase in the intake of copper can also reduce iron deficiency and improve blood circulation in the body.
Vitamins like Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, B1 & Niacin are also present in Cashews. They help in the metabolism of protein, carbohydrates, and fats at the cellular level. Niacin also helps prevent “pellagra” or dermatitis. Cashews also contain small amounts of Zeaxanthin that accumulates in our retina and protects our eyes from harmful UV rays.
But are Cashews any good to my pet dog?
The amount of nutrition present in Cashews can work wonders for humans. However, we need to understand that the digestive and cardiovascular system present in dogs are very different from that of humans; but Cashews still have health benefits in store for your pawpaw.
Firstly, the antioxidants present in Cashews prevent degenerative conditions in the cells and slow down the aging process of your dog which works great for senior dawgies. They also reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases and promote a ‘healthy heart’.
If your dog has dry, flaky skin & brittle fur instead of lustrous, thick coat then the omega-3 fatty acids can come to the rescue! Addition of these to the dog’s diet will help restore the healthy skin and thick fur that your dog lacks.
Potassium present in the Cashews assists calcium in strengthening the bones and teeth of your dog. It can even reduce the risk of liver and prostate cancer. The high amount of dietary fiber aids in the process of digestion and strengthens the gut.
The minerals mentioned earlier like zinc, copper & iron are critical to a healthy growth & essential body functions as they help in the formation of hemoglobin and enzyme development. Collagen, another fundamental block in their body which connects the various tissues together is also formed through the minerals present and zeaxanthin can work wonders on their eyesight.
When it comes to Cats, Cashews have very often proved to have a toxic effect. The reason for this is still unclear, but keeping your kitty cat away from nuts is a practice for the best.
So why do I have to feed my dog Cashews in small amounts?
First & foremost, your dog can be allergic to Cashews and so you need to be careful. In spite of the health benefits, Cashews can be detrimental to your dog’s digestive system if consumed in large quantities and can lead to the development of bladder stones. It’s a strict NO for dogs with pancreatitis. The high-fat content can also lead to weight gain in your dog.
Most Cashews are salted and consumption of those can cause salt toxicity in your dog which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. The shells of Cashews contain Urushiol which is a toxic substance also found in poison ivy. The Cashews for dogs need to be inspected for mold which has Aflatoxins, a toxin which can lead to liver failure in canines.
Is the Cashew Fruit poisonous too?
Cashew Nuts are seeds of the ‘Cashew Fruit’. The fruit has a sweet & sour flavor and its juice is consumed in various countries. However, the Cashew Fruit is poisonous for your dog as it also contains Urushiol. The nut is covered with a double layered shell which can be toxic for your pet too.
Precautions while feeding your dawgie Cashews
Your dog doesn’t really have a natural appetite for Cashews! They aren’t toxic if given in moderation, but they aren’t advisable. However, if you really feel like sharing them with your pawpaw then you need to cook or roast, and not FRY them before giving it to your dog as raw cashew nuts can be poisonous. They should be unshelled, unsalted and inspected for mold before cooking. Also, make sure they are broken into small size bites so that your pet doesn’t choke on them.
Sweets and chocolates made of cashews are strictly forbidden. The sugar present in them can create sharp spikes in your dog’s energy levels. Look out for organic cashews for dogs rather than packaged or processed ones as they may contain harmful preservatives. Also, steer clear of feeding your pet, that Shaahi Paneer, Koftas or other food preparations that contain cashews. That is definitely not a way to include cashews in your dog’s diet!
So, to sum up, whether Cashew Nuts are good for dogs or not; we can agree that they are good but exercising moderation is necessary. They are packed with nutrition for your pet and are far better than walnuts, pecans & macadamia nuts which may lead to gastrointestinal distress. They especially work wonders on senior dawgies and keeps cancer at bay. The fatty acids present are great for their heart, and the vitamins & minerals will help improve blood formation and strengthen their bones and teeth. Just remember to check for allergies before feeding and that’ll be all!
Got questions left unanswered? Post them in the comments below!
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