Can Dogs Eat Nopales? Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Cactus?

Nopales, also known as nopals, are Mexican native cacti traditionally used as vegetables and herbal medicine by the Aztecs.

 Its leaves were highly treasured for their unique nutritional content and precious active ingredients, up to date.  

This plant is still a typical food in Mexico, well known for its intestinal and blood purifying effects. 

The food spread worldwide when the Spanish explorers returned home, while the Moors spread it throughout North Africa. 

Have you been wondering whether you can offer nopales to your furry friend? Well, we’ve got the answer for you! 

Can Dogs Eat Nopales? 

In general, these prickly pears aren’t recommended for doggies, but a bite or two wouldn’t do any harm. Nopals contain oxalates, which are toxic to dogs if consumed excessively. 

Worse still, the ingestion of raw nopales can cause alteration to the digestion system as they have a lot of fibers. 

Remember to confirm with a vet before offering these treats to your dog. 

Nopal Salad

Importance/Harm of Nopales.  

The few adverse effects we’ve mentioned above don’t mean that these plants don’t have any nutritional value for your doggy. 

Like any other green plant, nopals are concentrated with dietary fiber responsible for preventing constipation, strengthening heart health, and balancing children and blood sugar levels.  

They also contain beta-carotene & polyphenol-antioxidants that curb cellular damage. However, it’d be great if you considered the possible risks related to serving nopales in excess. 

Nutritional Benefits for Nopales. 

When prepared and distributed accurately, nopales can be helpful to your dog in several ways. These treats are decadent in:

  • Vitamins A good for your dog’s eyesight, while vitamin K is responsible for the coagulation proteins synthesis required for blood clotting. 
  • Minerals such as calcium are crucial for strengthening the teeth and bones and curbing bone fractures and possible bone issues such as arthritis. 
  • Antioxidants- Beta-carotene and polyphenols help curb cellular damage and certain types of cancer. 
  • Dietary fiber is responsible for managing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, preventing constipation, and keeping the intestines on the move. 

How Much to Feed.

These prickly pears should be offered moderately as an occasional treat, comprising not more than 10% of your dog’s regular diet. 

We recommend offering one or two bite-sized portions of nopales once a week. If your sweetie is new to this treat, it’d be best to kick off with smaller pieces as you monitor how he reacts to it. 

We urge you not to serve nopales to puppies; instead, stick to the everyday puppy foods. This is because their digestive is not well developed to handle these threats. 

Most importantly, if your doggy has shown possible allergic reactions to nopales, we kindly urge you to stop offering them to him as some allergies can be life-threatening.

Why are Nopales Good / Bad?

As we highlighted earlier, Nopales have plenty of benefits to your doggy if offered moderately. This treat contains vitamins A and K, responsible for your dog’s vision and blood clotting, respectively. 

It’s also rich in minerals such as calcium that strengthen bones and teeth while preventing bone fractures and possible bone diseases, arthritis.

Beta-carotene and polyphenol are antioxidants present in nopales that prevent cellular damage and certain types of cancer—not forgetting that this plant is rich in dietary fibers that are required for balancing cholesterol levels and blood sugar and preventing constipation. 


While nopales might be your darling’s favorite treat, it’d be best to offer them in moderation as they can be harmful if offered frequently in large amounts. 

Nopales have greater chances of causing stomach upset since they are rich in fiber which can be hard to digest when fed in excess.

Canned nopales come with plenty of non-friendly ingredients such as sauces and spice, which can be harmful. 

We prefer the cooked nopales over the raw ones as the latter has a high content of oxalic acid- it irritates your dog’s mouth as well as the skin if he comes into contact with it.

How to Feed Nopales to Dogs. 

Making nopales ready for your doggy-friend can be tricky at first but always gets better with practice.

Remember that this plant should be considered an occasional titbit, especially when training and not a whole meal. 

Don’t worry about where to get some, as most Mexican food stores never lack a few for you. Firstly, grate off the spines and any dark spots. A piece of advice: it’s good to have your gloves on at this stage. 

After thorough washing, cut the pad into pieces, and then steam, air-fry, bake, or boil-the choice is yours. Whichever the style, do it thoroughly to deactivate the oxalic acid, leading to kidney damage in the long run.

We recommend plain cooking with no spices, as they can be harmful to your dog. 

What can I offer as an alternative for nopales?

If your dog is allergic to nopals or you dislike offering them to him, there are plenty of safe and healthy foodstuffs that can serve as excellent pet treats, from pumpkins, apples, bananas, among others.

What are the common symptoms of a Nopales-intolerant dog?

If you’ve just introduced nopales to your doggy and you’re studying how he reacts to them, below are the possible symptoms to tell that your furry friend is allergic to the plant.

  • Mouth irritation.
  • Vomiting.
  • Stomach upset. 
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.

If the symptoms persist, kindly seek your vet’s opinion. 

What are the possible risks related to offering nopales to my dogs?

Giving your dog nopales in large amounts too frequently can harm his general health. The oxalic acid found in these plants can lead to kidney damage in long-term cases. 

Also, they’re hard to digest since they have a lot of fibers, thus causing stomach upset.

Nopales don’t have much nutritional value to your dog, and thus they should be offered occasionally (if necessary) and in small quantities or alongside the main diet.

It’d be advisable to consult your vet before introducing this treat to your furry sidekick. 

Featured image – Wikimedia Commons [Popo le Chien]