Is Prickly Pear Cactus Poisonous to Dogs?

is prickly pear cactus poisonous to dog

I know your concern as a dog owner as I do. Last year my puppy was playing in My Cactus Garden and ate raw prickly pear cactus (thorns). It made me very worried and I started to research what I should do. Thank god, I finally got the solution. Now I decided to share my knowledge with you.

Prickly pear cactus is not poisonous to dogs. But, if dogs eat a raw prickly pear, then its spines and glochids can stick in the dog’s mouth and throat area. Though they are not poisonous,  if they get deep into tissues, and might cause bruising, bleeding, and even dying tissues.

Over the years I have learned more about how to feed prickly pear cactus to my dog. Isn’t it good to learn everything from one paper?

Is Prickly Pear Cactus Poisonous to Dogs, Cows, and Humans?

Luckily, humans and cows can eat prickly pear cactus though they need to be careful. But it is not the same case for dogs and cats. The real problem with your dog is its spines, thorns, and glochids. 

Dogs are very sensitive to smell. And, prickly pear cactus fruits are smelling and tasty, which attracts too much to dogs. So be aware that your dogs can’t eat raw cactus.

Provide cooked prickly pear cactus to your dog. Or you can remove thorns from the pear pads before feeding your dogs.

 Dr. Marty Goldstein, an integrative veterinarian, and best-selling author says that pencil cactus and crown of thorns are poisonous to both dogs and cats.  

But from my own experience, it isn’t true for prickly pear cactus.

How to Make Prickly Pear Cactus Edible to Dogs?

  1. One of the easiest ways to make pear cactus to eat  is burn the spines and glochids directly.
  2. You have to remove the spines from the pads.
  3. Scrape the spines and glochids from the surface area and cut the edges of nopales (i.e. leaves)
  4. Washout for any spines and glochids that are stuck with pads.
  5. Now it is time to cook.

Why Do Dogs Love To Eat Prickly Pear Cactus?

When your dog is mature enough, it is certain that your dog will love to eat pear seeds for its nutrition, digestion, and cardiovascular wellbeing. Because prickly pear seeds are a great source of fatty acids.

This omega 3 fatty acid helps to develop a dog’s brain and eyes. Research shows that omega -3 fatty acids can cure arthritis and chronic kidney disease in dogs.

Fats are regarded as a crucial component of a balanced diet in dogs as they help to maintain a healthy skin coat, cell structure, and function, including vision and learning abilities in addition to enhancing taste and palatability of Food.
                                                     Courtesy by: Academia

Is Prickly Pear Cactus Toxic to Dogs?

This plant has low severity poison characteristics. Though some cacti are poisonous, most of them are not poisonous to puppies. Only make sure that your dogs are not eating raw prickly pear cactus.

What to do When Your Dogs Eat Raw Prickly Pear Cactus?

Observe your dog. Is it salivating, foaming, drooling, or frothy saliva around the lips? If yes, then immediately contact a veterinarian.

Grazing animals that eat sharp grass awns, spiny plants such as the prickly pear cactus, may injure the oral mucosa. The prickly pear has sharp awns that can become embedded in the tongue and gums of animals eating them. Initially, excessive salivation may be noticed, but in time the grass awns or spines that are embedded in the mucosae create large ulcers. The awns are not easily visible in the ulcers because they become embedded in the granulation tissue filling the ulcer. 
                                                          Courtesy by: IVIS

Do Cactus Needles Dissolve in Dogs?

When you see that your dog is jerking its mouth or kicking its leg, there is a possibility that cactus needles are stuck in its mouth. Since the cactus needles don’t dissolve into the dog’s mouth, your first job is to help it immediately.  First, identify where the needles are stuck? It can be either legs or mouth.

For legs, use a comb. It can easily remove the needles from your dog’s fur.

But if it is into its mouth, follow the Dr. Susan Bertram method.

Dr. Susan Bertram, at Sabino Veterinary Care,  says 

(1) thick leather work gloves (most gardening gloves aren’t thick enough)

(2) a small pair of needle-nosed pliers

(3) a metal-toothed dog or cat comb, (with teeth 1/8 ” to 1/4″ apart)

(4) tweezers (get good quality eyebrow tweezers, they’ll work better)

(5) triple antibiotic ointment

Do Prickly Pears Cause Constipation to Dogs?

Nothing is good in the extreme. Too much consumption of prickly pear cactus will make your dog sick, especially in stomach troubles. The black seeds of prickly pear can be the reason for your dog’s constipation. 


Prickly pears to be eaten at once were peeled and shaken to rid them of seeds, then eaten raw. If the whole seeds were eaten they caused abdominal swelling and constipation. 

What Does A Prickly Pear Taste Like to Dogs?

Though the flavor is sweet, but not fully sweet. Though the name suggests pear, the fruit is not actually from the member of a pear family. Unlike all sweet fruits, the prickly pear fruit taste is tart and crisp, similar in flavor to a watermelon. Its texture is like aloe vera juice.

It has a sugary taste that’s why dogs love its taste. 

Prickly pear seeds for dogs are more efficient and less known than argan seeds.

Source: Adragna Pet Food

Which Part of the Pear Cactus is Poisonous to Dogs?

Prickly pear cactus pads have thrones, spines, and glochids. Mentionable, glochids are more poisonous to dogs. Glochids can easily penetrate a dog’s skin and can become the reason for a dog’s irritation.

Health Benefits of Prickly Pear Cactus to Dogs

  • A study of Universities of Catania published in  the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology-  Prickly pears seeds oil boasts a millennial therapeutic tradition.  It has 
  • antioxidants,
  •  revitalizing, 
  • reinforcing, 
  • hydrating, 
  • soothing, 
  • anti-inflammatory and 
  • healing properties.

These are very essential for dog health indeed.

Final Thoughts

Don’t be so scared when your dog is stuck by prickly pear cactus needles. Observe your dog, watch its behavior. And, you have to be careful so that your dog grazes in your cactus garden. Besides, when you bring a pear cactus to your home, don’t leave it somewhere where your dog can fetch it easily.

Anwar Hossain

My name is Anwar Hossain. I am a cactus lover, researcher, and cactus blogger.

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