Is Prickly Pear Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

There is so much discussion on this question “is Prickly Pear Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?”. There are mixed reactions as some say it is not toxic, and some say it is toxic to dogs. But, one thing is sure, it is always better to keep Dogs away from Prickly Pear because even if it is not poisonous, it has needles that when eaten by the dog can be embedded in the inner mouth or throat.

Is Prickly Pear Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

If a dog eats an uncooked prickly pear, the needles and glochids may get embedded in the dog’s skin, throat, or mouth. They are not harmful, but if they penetrate deeply into the, they can cause blemishes, hemorrhages, and chronic inflammation.

If you are both a dog lover and a Prickly Pear cactus lover, it is obvious to get concerned about is prickly pear cactus poisonous to dogs? Animal specialists have different opinions regarding it, some consider prickly pear cactus poisonous to dogs even in small quantitiesOthers may have a different view on it, so keep your dog away from this cactus as dogs are very curious about plants and can sniff and eat anything around them.

As stated by the website of ASPCA Poison Control, Prickly Pear Cactus is non-toxic to canines, but overeating such food may make it difficult for your dog to poop.

If your dog consumes something poisonous, it will not lose its life at once. It can have detrimental effects on your dog’s well-being, thus making its life short.

What is Prickly Pear Cactus?

Prickly pear or nopal belongs to the genus Opuntia and the family Cactaceae. Prickly Pears is a spiny cactus with flat rounded cladodes (platycladus) and large, smooth, fixed needles and small hair-like prickles known as glochids that can stick to skin or hair easily and get separated from the plants. 

Many species such as the Indian fig (Opuntia ficus-indica) are grown for food and medicine in tropical and subtropical regions. Prickly pear cactus is indegenous to Mexico.  

The flowers are big and solitary and grow into berry-like edible fruits. Prickly pear cactus has many health benefits like it reduces blood sugar and cholesterol. It is also be taken for enlarged prostate, hangover, etc.

Are all parts of prickly pear poisonous to dogs?

All parts of Prickly pears are not poisonous to dogs, but the needles, thorns, and glochids can adhere in the body of canines, thus leading to various issues and also it can infuriate your dog. Humans and cows can consume prickly pear cactus with little care. 

Dogs are very sensitive to sniffing. Prickly pear cactus fruits have a pleasant aroma and are tempting, thus alluring to the dogs. So you have to be cautious that your dogs should not ingest raw prickly pear at any cost or remove thorns from the pads before giving it to your dog. Feed cooked prickly pear cactus to your dog. 

How to Make Prickly Pear Cactus Edible to Dogs?

The simplest way to make pear cactus edible to dogs is to burn the spears and short prickles right away.

Remove the spears from the pads by scouring the needles and prickles from the surface and cutting the sides of the pads. Wash the thorns and glochids from the pads. Now cook them to feed your dog.

Why Do Dogs Love To Eat Prickly Pear Cactus?

As the dogs mature, they love to eat Prickly pear seeds for digestion, nutrients, and cardiovascular health. Prickly pear seeds are a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids aid in developing the brain and eyes of the canines. Omega -3 fatty acids might be an antidote for arthritis and chronic kidney disease in canines.

What To Do When Your Dog Eats Raw Prickly Pear Cactus?

When your dog has eaten raw Prickly pears, watch your dog. If it is dribbling, frothing, drooling, or spilling saliva from the mouth, then consult an animal specialist soon.

Thorns of the Prickly pear cactus can harm the oral membrane of foraging animals as tiny prickles of the prickly pear can get lodged in the gums and tongue of animals ingesting them. 

Drooling may be noticed initially, but later large ulcers can be formed due to these prickles that are not easily visible as they are lodged deeply in the ulcer.                                                         

Do Cactus Needles Dissolve in Dogs?

The cactus needles don’t dissolve in the dog’s mouth. If your dog is twitching its mouth or punting its leg, then cactus needles might have been embedded in its mouth. 

How to Remove Needles from Dog’s Fur and Mouth?

First, try to figure out where the needles are embedded in either the mouth or legs. 

Material Used:

  • Thick leather gloves, 
  • a small pair of pliers,
  •  a dog or cat comb (metal toothed)
  •  tweezers,
  • and antibiotic ointment

Removing Cactus Needles From Your Dog

Cactus needles embedded in the mouth pierce the skin, forming an aperture for pathogens. Before taking out the needles, apply some antibiotic ointment on your hands and on the tools( tweezers).

Take a comb to simply eliminate the needles from the fur of your dog’s leg. But to remove needles from their mouth, follow these instructions. 

As you remove detached needles, be careful as blood may ooze out, so keep astringent and dressing ready. 

Your pet can be restless and can kick his legs to eradicate the needles. Keep it relaxed and take care that the needles do not penetrate your skin. 

You can take the help of another person to remove the needles. Your pet might be frothing from the mouth if needles are stuck there. 

Take out any needle with tweezers or forceps by plucking in the way of the fur growth. The needles that are lodged at an angle opposite to the fur growth, try to take them out delicately in that direction as they are lodged.


Do Prickly Pears Cause Constipation to Dogs?

Overindulgence in eating Prickly pear cactus can lead to stomach complications in dogs. Prickly pear has black seeds that cause constipation in dogs. 

You can remove the seeds from the fruits of Prickly pears before feeding it to your dog. Whole seeds on consumption can lead to seizures and bloating. 

What Does A Prickly Pear Taste Like to Dogs?

Prickly pear has a mildly sweet aroma, but the prickly pear fruit taste is tangy with an aloe vera juice-like consistency. 

Health Benefits of Prickly Pear Cactus to Dogs

Prickly pear seed oil can have many health benefits for dogs as it contains ascorbic acid and is considered rejuvenating, strengthening, hydrating, soothing, and antispasmodic for dogs.

Are Cacti Poisonous To Dogs?

Cactus plants are not poisonous to dogs, and if you are in awe of these striking succulents called cactus plants, grow them in your garden or as houseplants without any worries as these exotic plants are not harmful to your canine. 

Only ensure that your dog doesn’t ingest cactus plants since most cactI have spines that can injure your dog. Let’s know more about cacti and dogs to keep your dog away from any danger.

Dogs being snoopy and gregarious animals, can easily sniff and try to savor each plant around them. Thus, you need to be cautious about what you keep around them so that your canine is safe. If you are thinking of buying a plant that can be poisonous to your pet, make it inaccessible to your pet. 

The cactus plant has roughage causing annoyance, dysentery and flatulence in your dog and they can even puke. Also, the cactus may have been sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers that can be poisonous to your dog.

The juice of the cactus plant can act as an allergen, causing allergic reactions in dogs. The thorns can injure your canine, and it should be avoided at any cost.

The cacti are not poisonous to your dog but keep these plants away from your dog, so that it cannot consume the cactus to avoid any health issues.

Signs Of Trouble

If your dog has consumed a cactus plant, it can show any of these signs:

  • Dysentery
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea

If your canine has not consumed the cactus plants but had eye or skin contact with the cactus plant,  the following signs can be seen in dogs:

  • Skin rashes with pain
  • Swelling around eyes
  • Temporary or permanent blindness
  • Ulceration
  • Bumps
  • Burning
  • Skin irritation

Cactus spines are not fatal, but can irritate your dog with pain.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Cactus

If your dog eats cactus despite taking all care, look for the symptoms like frothing, salivation in excess, vomiting and dysentery or abnormal behaviour. On finding any of these symptoms, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.

If you notice spines in a dog’s fur, look for any lodged spines. If the spines or needles are less in number, you can take them out with tweezers or forceps. We have already discussed above how to remove needles from dog’s fur and mouth.  If cactus spines are numerous, take your canine to a veterinarian. 

Final Thoughts

Although Prickly pears is not poisonous to dogs, still there is uncertainty about a dog eating prickly pear because different animal specialists have different views on it as we discussed earlier.

It is always better to keep your dog away from Prickly pears as they say “better safe than sorry”. If you want to feed your canine any part of Prickly pears, do ask a veterinarian before doing so.

Notice your dog’s actions in case it ingests any part of Prickly pears and if you find something wrong, consult an animal specialist immediately. If you are growing Prickly pear, place it such that it is inaccessible to your dog. 


The knowledge presented in this article is to share our observations and understanding of the topic.   The writer denies any accountability for harm, trouble, or suffering caused and consult a veterinarian for any concerns regarding your dog’ food and health.


Nikita is a Succulent lover. She really enjoys planting and nourishing them. She loves to share information about various Succulents on this blog to aware people more about these awesome plants.

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