Can Dogs Eat Nopales, Prickly Pear, or Cactus Fruit?

Nopales are used in a variety of different Mexican cuisine dishes. When cooking in the kitchen, your dog may want a taste of what you’re making, and it’s only natural to want to give your dog some. Can dogs eat nopales? What about other parts of a cactus? Find out if it is safe for your dog to eat nopales here.

Can Dogs Eat Nopales

What is Nopales?

A nopal is a cactus plant often referred to as the prickly pear cactus. This is a cactus that is grown in Mexico and certain parts of the United States. There are a variety of nopal species around, and it is used in a lot of meals.

People can eat a nopal in the raw form or cooked. Your local grocery store may even sell cactus leaves, and you may not even know it. They will be curt from the plant, and the spikes will already be removed and likely sliced. However, some people wonder if their dog can enjoy this tasty treat with them, and in this article, we will find out can dogs eat nopales.

Can Dogs Eat Nopales?

No, dogs should not eat nopales because they naturally contain oxalates. These oxalates can poison your dog, causing terrible symptoms like upset stomach, vomiting, and digestive problems. The side effects your dog experiences will differ from other dogs depending on the size of the dog breed and past health history.

The best way to keep your dog is safe is by keeping your dog away from nopals in general. If you have cactus in your yard, I suggest removing it or moving it to an area where your dog does not play. If your dog does experience some symptoms, you will want to consult your local veterinarian.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Nopales?

While you shouldn’t generally give your dogs Nopales at all, you can if they have been cooked, but you can have a possibility of risks. This is because when you cook nopales, it decreases or deactivates some of the harmful oxalates found inside of them.

Again, some of those oxalates can still be present after cooking, so you will need to decide if you want to give your dog a small amount. Since there is still a possibility of that risk, I recommend just avoiding it all together.

If you decide to take that risk (which I do not recommend), make sure you do not give your dog nopales with any seasonings on it. Most seasonings are actually harmful to dogs and should not be given to them. If you give your dog some of this treat, then make sure it is cooked plain and not with added salt, garlic, or other seasonings.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Nopales

What Happens if my Dog Eats Nopales

If you find that your dog has eaten your nopales, then you may start to go into a panic. Try to calm yourself down and make sure to be aware of the following symptoms of nopal poisoning.

  • Vomiting
  • Stomach upset
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy

If you notice that your dog is showing signs of any of these symptoms, I encourage you to contact your veterinarian right away. Your vet will ask for certain details about your dog’s experience and symptoms. If your dog ingested the nopales, your dog may recommend a different treatment than if you just brushed up to a cactus and got its thorns inside of your dog’s skin.

When in doubt, bring your dog in to see the vet to get completely checked out to ensure nothing bad or life-threatening happens.

Are Nopales Poisonous to Dogs?

Yes, nopales possess poisonous properties that affect each and every dog differently. The poisoning from nopales will not harm a human but will harm our furry friends. It can even lead to kidney failure in very bad cases.

Can Puppies Eat Nopales?

No, puppies should not eat nopales. If your adult dog shouldn’t eat nopales due to all the harmful side effects, then your puppy shouldn’t eat it either. You should try to keep this cactus away from your dog at home and in the yard. When you cook with it, ensure your dog cannot reach up on the counter to eat it when you are not looking.

Can my Dog have Cooked Cactus?

Generally, most cactus plants out there are not poisonous, but cactus produces a sap that can produce many negative side effects, especially for the gastrointestinal tract. Other types of cacti also contain those same oxalates that the nopales have. I suggest avoiding feeding your dog cooked cactus, too, as there are other great foods out there that are safe for your dog.

Cactus Dogs

Can Dogs Eat Cactus Fruit?

There are different cactus fruits that bloom on the cactus plant. Some varieties of fruit are safe, and others are not. They can provide some great health benefits such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. However, there is a chance for a gastrointestinal upset when you feed your dog cactus fruit. Also, you will want to be aware of the variety and do some more research to see if it is safe. You can always call your local veterinarian and ask their option on feeding your dog the cactus fruit.

Can Dogs Eat Prickly Pear Cactus?

No, dogs should not eat the prickly pear cactus variety. The fruit on this type of cactus is particularly more dangerous than other ones. Your dog can get extreme toxicity or even death if it consumes the fruit on the prickly pear cactus.

The fruit also has very small hairlike thorns that can add another level of danger. You don’t want your dog to get stabbed into the mouth when you feed it. So just go and avoid this fruit. If you eat it, that’s okay, but ensure your dog doesn’t eat it.

Alternatives to Nopales for Dogs

Do not get upset if your dog cannot eat the nopales; there are so many other great dog-friendly human foods out there that your dog can enjoy. Here are some great alternatives here:

Aloe Vera Juice – Did you know your dog can drink aloe vera juice? A little bit get can give your dog some great health benefits such as helping skin irritation, digestion, joints, and much more.

Dragon Fruit – Another great treat that your dog can try is dragon fruit. It contains many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that will reduce free radicals. In addition, it is full of fiber and a delicious treat that can be enjoyed in moderation.

Banana Chips – There are various fruits that your dog can enjoy, such as bananas. Banana chips can be a great snack that has great nutritional benefits.

Can Dogs Eat Prickly Pear Cactus


Can dogs eat nopales? The answer is no, and it should honestly be completely avoided. There are way too many risks and side effects that your dog could potentially get if it consumes nopales. I suggest you completely leave it alone and not give it to your dog. Let me know if your dog has ever come into contact with nopales before.

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