Can Dogs Eat Nopales?

Can Dogs Eat Nopales?

If you are someone who likes to be surrounded by lots of plants at home and are into some exotic plants such as cactuses, it might occur to you whether if these plants would attract your pup at home and cause any health issues. Dogs have good sense of smell and nopales can attract your dog.

While it might be safe for your dog to consume little amounts of nopales, it is never recommended. Nopales can cause upset tummy, or diarrhea in dogs and their thorns can be very dangerous.

What are Nopales?

Nopal is a plant that originates in Mexico. They are in the genus of Opuntia and are most often known with the name of prickly pear in English.  It is safe to say that they are cactus looking plants, just with a specific type. In Mexico, there are one hundred and fourteen species that are endemic to Mexico.

These plants are used in Mexican cuisine and are used in soups, salads, marmalades, and stews. They can be eaten either raw or cooked. These cactuses are used for medical purposes besides gastronomic purposes. The nopales that are grown in farms are mostly species of Opuntia ficus-indica.

In Mexico, nopales are usually sold fresh after their thorns are removed and are sliced. Nopalitos can be found canned or bottled and are sometimes sold dried for export purposes. The taste of nopales is similar to green peppers.

The most common dish in Mexican cuisine made with nopales is huevos con nopales which is basically eggs with nopal. Carne con nopales (meat with nopal) is also a widely desired dish by Mexican people.

Is it Safe for My Dog to Eat Nopales?

Now that you know what nopales are, let’s get to the main point. If you have such a plant at home either for your kitchen projects or as a purpose of green ambience, should you be worried if your dog will be tempted to eat these thorny cactuses?

Nopales or cactuses are not toxic to dogs in general. However, they are not recommended to be consumed by your dog since it can cause several concerns for your pooch’s health. We all know how curious and mischievous dogs are. Therefore, they can be exploring everything they see at home, more often the things that can convey their scents to your pup. Can dogs smell cactus? Well, yes, they can.

Even though it is safe to grow and have nopales at home while your dog is around, you need to make sure your dog doesn’t eat them since you will not want to take the risks of consequences.  Cactus plants are made of fibrous material that is likely to lead to irritation and upset stomach, vomiting and even diarrhea.

If you are growing nopales at home, you might be using insecticides or other chemicals and fertilizers that can be very harmful for your little, lovely friend at home. Cactuses do not use poison as a self-defense method. Instead, they use their thorns.

Although nopales or cactuses are not toxic to dogs, there are other reasons why it can lead to health issues for your pup. Nopales, or cactuses have thorns on their skin and you really need to make sure they do not contact with your dog’s skin.

As a responsible parent of your pet, you need to protect your pup at all times and keep him away from any potential danger that can lead to serious health issues. Cactuses can lead to different kind of digestive issues that might require immediate professional help.

Depending on the size, age and general health of your pooch, the reaction to the contact with cactus plants can vary. Some of the consequences dogs face after contacting cactuses are known as vomiting, nausea, stomach pain and diarrhea.

Even if your pooch did not eat nopales or cactuses, they might just have physical contact with them which still can cause serious issues such as swelling around the eyes, ulceration, blisters, rashes on the skin, burning, irritation of the skin, or even temporary or permanent blindness.

Can Dogs Eat Nopales?

My Dog Ate Nopales, What Should I Do?

If you want to prevent your dog from eating nopales or other cactus plants, you should always keep them out of your dog’s reach. If you keep these plants away, you will not need to worry about your dog’s mischievousness or his curiosity.

In case your dog contacts with nopales or your cactus plants at home, watch his reactions carefully and contact your vet immediately. Pay close attention to any signs of unusual salivation, vomiting or diarrhea or any unusual behavior.

If your dog did not eat nopales but still had a physical contact with them, check his skin carefully to see if there are any thorns on his skin. You can remove those thorns easily at home without any complication. Do not leave your dog alone if he has thorns on his skin as he can try to take them out by himself which could lead to even greater problems.

Conclusion: Can Dogs Eat Nopales?

Nopales, as a part of cactus family, are not toxic to dogs themselves. However, there are other concerns that can arise for your dog from eating or contacting nopales. Eating nopales can lead to diarrhea, upset stomach, and various digestive issues for your dog despite the fact that they are not toxic. Apart from those, thorns of nopales can cause even bigger problems if they get stuck on your pooch’s skin.

If that’s the case, immediately act on it and remove the thorns before your dog tries to do that. If your dog ate some nopales, assuming that the thorns were previously removed, it should not cause much concern. Nevertheless, you need to make sure your dog does not get to reach these plants as the risks are more concerning than its nutrition levels or benefits.

If you worry that your dog might have eaten nopales or other cactus plants, contact your vet immediately and ask for professional help to make sure your pooch is safe and sound.

About the author: Alaaddin Sarac

I've been an avid dog enthusiast since childhood. I started this blog in hopes of helping owners find answers to questions I had after owning my first dog. This website was created as a way to share our love for all things canine with the world. From choosing the best food for your older dog to get the best beds for your tail-wagger, I aim to give you the information you need to give your dog the best care throughout his entire life.