Can Dogs Eat Nopales? Here’s What You Need to Know

Dogs have a natural curiosity toward food and are always eager to try what their human companions eat.

The same is true for nopales.

Dogs have an amazingly keen sense of smell, which allows them to pick up on the nopale’s scent from several feet away.

Nopales can be a tempting treat for your dog, but consider preventing it from eating them.

So, can dogs eat nopales?

No, nopales or cactus pads are harmful to dogs in a few key ways.

For instance, they contain an excessive amount of oxalates, which can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other serious side effects.

Nopales can also get stuck in your dog’s mouth, esophagus, or digestive system, causing irritation or damage. 

Throughout this article, we detail what happens to your dog if it eats nopales. We also look at what effects this could have on their health.

Why your dog should not eat nopales

Nopales, or prickly pear, is a type of cactus that can cause diarrhea and vomiting in dogs.

It contains chemicals called saponins and oxalates which are toxic to animals.

Even small amounts of nopales could cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms such as excessive thirst or drooling. Other good reasons to avoid feeding nopales to your dog include:

Nopales cause allergies. They contain an enzyme that can cause allergic reactions in dogs.

If you aren’t sure whether your dog is allergic to this enzyme, avoid feeding them any nopales unless your veterinarian gives the go-ahead.

Can Dogs Eat Nopales?

Moreover, the prickles on these pads can cause your dog to choke if it tries to swallow them whole.

While some dogs don’t react to these cactus pads, others experience real problems.

Your dog should stay away from any form of cactus. If it eats one by accident, call a veterinarian immediately.

Although it’s unlikely that your dog would eat enough nopales to cause serious harm, it’s always best to play safe and keep plants poisonous to dogs out of reach.

How would my dog react if they ate nopales?

Dogs may enjoy munching on nopales since they have an excellent flavor. If the nopal was small enough, like a chip, a dog can’t hurt himself on it.

He might think it’s a delicious snack, though, and try to eat more than a couple. If this happens, he could get sick. 

Some dogs have adverse reactions to the prickly pear cactus leaves. The worst-case scenarios include stomach aches and diarrhea. 

If a dog is nibbling on the leaves or pods, put the animal in a quiet place and monitor its condition for several hours.

Also, remove bulbs and large underground portions of mature nopales plants from the dog’s environment.

It’s best to avoid nopales entirely if your dog is looking for some chewing action.

When a dog eats nopales, what symptoms may suggest something is wrong?

IIf your dog eats nopales, watch for some tell-tale signs that could indicate something is wrong.

Although symptoms vary depending on the age, size, and overall health of your dog, here is what to look out for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache
  • Blood in the stool
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Coma and seizures, which are more severe signs of poisoning

If your dog eats and experiences any of the symptoms above, it will likely suffer from an adverse reaction.

Consult a veterinarian immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

How to handle your dog if it eats nopales

If your dog ate a lot of nopales: 

  1. Seek immediate medical attention from your vet. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your dog’s chances of making a full recovery.
  2. Ensure it does not eat any more nopales, which will worsen its condition and increase the risk of death. 
  3. Avoid force-feeding with something else like food or water as they could cause vomiting – the risk of choking increases if swallowed while vomiting will occur.
  4. Keep an eye on your pet’s health and behavior. Call your veterinarian right away before things get worse if anything unusual happens.
  5. Avoid attempting to treat your dog because sometimes nopales can get lodged in their digestive system, causing severe harm.

Are cooked nopales safe to eat by dogs?

Dogs can consume cooked nopales. Raw nopales contain high levels of oxalates, water-soluble crystals that bind with calcium.

If your dog eats lots of oxalates over time, it may develop kidney stones or bladder stones, which can be very painful. A veterinarian needs to treat this right away to avoid infections or other complications. 

Cooking nopales is paramount as it breaks down water-soluble oxalates, making them safe for your dog’s consumption.

However, cooking nopales to render them safe remains controversial.

So what’s a pet parent to do?

It’s best to keep your dog away from nopales altogether. If you want to treat them from time to time, consider other fruits and vegetables that are much safer for the dog to munch on.

What can I feed my dog as a substitute for nopales? 

Are you having trouble thinking of an excellent alternative to nopales to feed your dog?

Try some other perfectly safe, healthy, and delicious options your dog can enjoy.

For instance, pumpkin is a great treat, as it’s rich in fiber and beta carotene.

Fiber helps keep dogs regular, which means they’ll have more energy and be less likely to suffer from gas or diarrhea. 

Apples and bananas also make great snacks for dogs.

They’re rich in vitamins and minerals that will help keep your pup healthy and happy.

Try feeding your dog some banana peel or pumpkin seeds for something a bit different.

They will help keep its digestive tract regular and also provide some essential vitamins and minerals that are missing from most commercial pet foods.

So the next time you’re going to give your dog a treat, try one of these instead of nopales.

 Final Word

Overall, it’s best to avoid giving your dog nopales.

The risks involved, such as digestive issues, outweigh the benefits of feeding your dog, so it’s not worth it. Some people may feed nopales to their dogs with no ill effects, but it’s usually not a good idea.

There are better ways to get nutrients, like eating apples and bananas, so if you can, stick to those. 

However, if you insist on feeding nopales to your pet, make it an occasional thing in moderation to reduce the chances of having issues with their digestive system later on.

Moreover, always pay attention to how they react after feeding.

Megan Turner
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