11 October 2017

Are Cashew Nuts Poisonous To Dogs?

From time to time I get questions from clients who are concerned that cashew nuts are toxic in some way to the dog, sometimes they are urgently seeking advice as to expected adverse symptoms where their dogs have swallowed cashew nuts and of course advice on treatment options. Well the good news is that cashew nuts are not toxic as such to dogs, but there are concerns, in particular pancreatitis, but see below ...

cashew nut toxic dog
Cashew nuts have a high fat content, this can sometimes cause problems to dogs.

1. There seems to be some sort of urban myth concerning cashew nut toxicity in the dog. The good news is that cashew nuts are not toxic as such to dogs but they do have a high fat content so I have sometimes seen this trigger a bout of vomiting and / or diarrhoea. Of course the severity of such symptoms depends on the quantity of cashew nuts swallowed. Where it was just a few cashew nuts then most dogs will get away with it and not show any symptoms, but where larger amounts are ingested then some degree of gastroenteritis may follow. There is another concern here, while this is very rare in my experience it is possible that the high fat content of cashew nuts could trigger an episode of pancreatitis in your dog, and this can be a very serious and sometimes even fatal disease.

2. Where a dog has swallowed a small amount of cashew nuts you will probably get away with just monitoring your dog as adverse symptoms will not be expected, where larger amounts have been ingested and you want to spare your dog any distressing symptoms then you may want to try inducing vomiting to recover the nuts, this can be successful if you can do it in the first hour after ingestion. A commonly used way to induce vomiting in the dog is with 3% hydrogen peroxide { Not hair colouring peroxide } A usual oral dose is one teaspoon { 5 ml } per 10 pounds of body weight. Vomiting should occur within 15 to 20 minutes but if no vomiting occurs, you can safely repeat the process a second time.

3. However where vomiting and or diarrhoea has set in and the dog is still fairly bright and alert then there are things you can safely try on a home remedy basis to help resolve thing. For example ...

A. I am aware that some owners use Pepcid to treat their dogs with gastro-enteritis and report success. a typical dose rate would be 0.5 mg per pound of the dog's bodyweight given orally twice a day for two or three days.

B. Some owners also try and control the situation with diet alone before they try anything else. This is logical and often works, the basis of this is to give the intestinal tract a complete rest and then bring it back slowly to function, resting the alimentary tract is the critical factor. It would go something like this ...

1. Starve your dog for 24 hours but make sure he or she she has access to water.

2. The next day feed her four or five small light meals in the day. These meals should be the likes of chicken, fish, scrambled egg etc. with a little rice.

3. If the dog then picks up on this diet you can gradually reintroduce his or her her normal diet over the next few days.

4. But what if you are dealing with pancreatitis? Well you will usually soon know. The dog will be very much sicker than just a regular uncomplicated gastroenteritis and will often be getting steadily worse. Expect to see loss of appetite, marked lethargy, serial vomiting, signs of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fever and weakness.

The bottom line? If in doubt about pancreatitis then get a vet involved as soon as possible, even if you have to use and ER vet. Better safe than sorry ...