Dogs and Nopal

Can Dogs Eat Nopal? Your Answer and Why

Can dogs eat nopales?

We explain what will happen if your dog eats nopales and what will happen to his health as a result.

To keep our pets healthy and disease-free, we want to make sure they eat the best diet we can provide.

But because dogs are naturally curious, they occasionally enjoy tasting the food that their owners eat in addition to the croquettes on their plate.

There are numerous foods that could seriously harm your dog, such as avocado, chocolate, and chili, but is cactus one of them?

Continue reading to learn more

What Is Nopal?

The plant nopal is a native of Mexico.

They belong to the Opuntia genus and are most frequently referred to as “prickly pears” in English.

They clearly resemble cactus plants, albeit of a particular type.

There are 114 species in Mexico that are native only to that country.

In Mexican cooking, these plants are used in salads, james, stews and soups.

They are suitable for cooking or eating raw. In addition to being used in food, these cactuses have medicinal uses.

The majority of the nopales that are cultivated on farms are Opuntia ficus-indica species.

Nopales are typically sold fresh in Mexico after having their thorns removed and being thinly sliced.

Nopalitos are available in cans, bottles, and are occasionally sold dried for export.

Nopales have a flavor that is comparable to green peppers.

Huevos con nopales, or simply eggs with nopal, is the most popular dish made with nopales in Mexican cuisine.

Meat with nopal, or carne con nopales, is another popular dish in Mexico.

Can Dogs Eat Nopal?

Now that you know what nopales are, let’s get to the point.

Should you worry that your dog will try to eat these thorny cacti if you have one of these plants in your home for a kitchen project or to make the place look greener?

In general, nopales and cactuses are not dangerous for dogs. But you shouldn’t let your dog eat them because it can be bad for his or her health in a number of ways.

We all know that dogs are curious and like to get into trouble.

So, they may want to check out everything they see at home, especially things that smell like other things.

Can Dogs Smell Cactus?

Well, they sure can.

Even though it’s safe to grow and have nopales at home with your dog, you need to make sure your dog doesn’t eat them or there could be consequences.

Fibrous material makes up cactus plants, which can cause irritation, upset stomach, vomiting, and even diarrhea.

If you grow nopales at home, you might use insecticides or other chemicals and fertilizers that are very bad for your lovely little friend at home.

Cacti don’t use poison to protect themselves. They use their thorns instead.

Even though nopales and cactuses are not poisonous to dogs, they can still make your dog sick in other ways.

Nopales, or cactuses, have sharp thorns on their skin, so they should not come in contact with your dog.

As a responsible pet owner, you need to keep your dog safe at all times and keep him away from anything that could hurt him or cause him to get sick.

Cactuses can cause different kinds of digestive problems, some of which may need help from a doctor right away.

How your dog acts around cactus plants depends on its size, age, and general health.

Some of the things that can happen to dogs after they touch cactuses are vomiting, feeling sick, having stomach pain, and having diarrhea.

Even if your dog didn’t eat nopales or cactuses, they might have touched them, which can still cause serious problems like:

  • Blisters
  • Burning
  • Skin irritation
  • Swollen eyes
  • Blindness
  • Other sores

What If A Dog Eats Nopal?

As we’ve already said, if it was just a small piece of cactus and your dog hasn’t shown any clear signs, you shouldn’t do anything more than watch how he acts.

But if your dog ate a lot of nopales, it could be bad for him or her.

Why? Well, nopales, which are a type of cactus, have fibrous plant parts that can cause irritation and stomach problems in your pet.

If you saw that it ate a lot of nopales, you should do something about it before something bad happens to it.

How should you handle a situation like this?

The first thing you should do is take your puppy right away to the vet so that a doctor can check it out and make sure everything is okay.

We don’t think you should try to treat it yourself.

Instead, you should talk to a professional who can really help you and your pup move forward.

Once it’s back at home, you’ll need to keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t have any side effects from the medicine, like a fever, drowsiness, or a change in appetite.

Also, if you want to make sure your pup is healthy, you need to keep an eye out for any signs of infection.

As with everything, nopales are a great food for humans, but you have to be careful when adding them to a dog’s diet because their bodies aren’t used to eating this kind of food.

Your dog will get all the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy from a diet that is rich and well-balanced for its age and size.

Can dogs eat nopal

My Dog Ate Nopales, What Should I Do?

If you don’t want your dog to eat nopales or other cactus plants, you should always keep them out of your dog’s reach.

By keeping these plants away, your dog won’t be able to get into trouble or be too curious.

If your dog gets into your nopales or cactus plants at home, pay close attention to how he reacts and call your vet right away.

Pay close attention to any signs of unusual behavior or unusual salivation, vomiting, or diarrhea.

If your dog didn’t eat the nopales but still touched them, look carefully at his skin to see if there are any thorns on it.

You can get rid of those thorns without any trouble at home. If your dog has thorns stuck in him, don’t leave him alone because he might try to pull them out on his own, which could make things worse.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Nopal?

Yes, cooked nopales are safe for dogs.

It’s best to never let your pet eat nopales, but if it does, cook the cactus pads before giving them to your dog.

Oxalates dissolve in water and will be taken away when food is cooked.

But there are different ideas about whether cooking the cactus makes it safe to eat.

If you don’t want to take a chance, don’t give this plant to your dog at all.

If you have to give your pet nopales, make sure it has been cooked enough so that no oxalates are left in the flesh of the cactus.

Can Nopal Be Good for Dogs?

Nopales are an important part of some cuisines because they are easy to find, healthy, and full of nutrients.

When cooked and served the right way, nopales can be good for dogs.

Here are the good things about nopales for dogs:

Low Calorie 

Nopales are a great snack for dogs who are trying to lose weight. Nopales are great for your diet because they are mostly water and only have 22 calories per cup.

Rich in Vitamins

Nopales are an excellent source of a variety of vitamins, including but not limited to vitamins A, K, C, and the B-complex (B6 or pyridoxine).


Nopales contain a variety of minerals as well. Calcium, iron, potassium, sodium and magnesium are the minerals that are found in the greatest abundance in the mineral specter.

Decreases Diabetes Risk

The mix of nutrients in nopales is interesting because it has a good effect on blood sugar levels and can even lower the risk of getting diabetes. Diabetes is a big problem for dogs.

Lowered Cholesterol

Nopales also lower the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which is a good thing. You probably already know that cholesterol is a bad fat.

Dietary Fiber

Nopales are full of fiber, just like all green plants. Fibers help keep the intestines moving and prevent constipation. They also help keep the heart healthy and keep blood sugar and cholesterol levels in check.

High in Antioxidants

Polyphenols and beta-carotene, two types of antioxidants, are found in high amounts in nopales. Free radicals can damage cells, but antioxidants fight them off. They can also help keep some kinds of cancer from happening.

Can Nopal Be Bad for Dogs?

Yes, nopales can be bad for dogs.

Nopales, like any other food for people, can be bad for dogs if they eat it too often or in large amounts.

When raw, they are also dangerous.

So, think about the risks before you make nopales your dog’s main source of food.

Here are the reasons why dogs shouldn’t eat nopales:

Upset Stomach

As a general rule, any food that people eat can upset a dog’s stomach. In the case of nopales, the chances are even higher because it has a lot of fiber. Dogs need fiber, but too much of it makes it hard for them to digest.

Oxalate Crystals

Oxalic acid is found in large amounts in raw nopales. Oxalic acid is too strong, and if a dog rubs up against the plant, it can irritate the mouth and even the skin. In the worst cases, oxalic acid can damage the kidneys. But this is only a problem when the food is raw, because cooking turns off the compound.

Added Ingredients

Lastly, it’s important to note that most of the ingredients that are often added to recipes with nopales are not good for dogs (such as seasonings, spices and sauces). The same is true for nopales that has been canned.

Can Dogs Eat Cooked Cactus?

Yes, dogs can safely eat cooked cactus, as it is non-toxic and offers potential health benefits such as antioxidants and fiber. Before serving, it is essential to remove all spines and thorns to prevent injury to your dog’s mouth and digestive system.

Cook the cactus to soften its texture, making it easier for your pet to digest. However, remember to serve cooked cactus in moderation and as an occasional treat, as too much can cause gastrointestinal upset.


As a member of the cactus family, nopales are not poisonous to dogs on their own.

But there are other things that could go wrong if your dog eats or touches nopales.

Even though nopales are not poisonous, if your dog eats them, he or she might get diarrhea, a stomach ache, or other digestive problems.

Even worse problems can happen if the thorns of nopales get stuck in your dog’s skin.

If that’s the case, remove the thorns right away so your dog doesn’t try to do that.

If the thorns were already taken off the nopales that your dog ate, you shouldn’t worry too much.

Still, you should make sure your dog can’t get to these plants because the risks are worse than the plants’ nutritional value or health benefits.

If you think your dog may have eaten nopales or other cactus plants, you should call your vet right away and ask for help to make sure your dog is safe.

So, can dogs eat nopal? Yes, but we feel the risks are not worth the reward in this case.

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