There might not exist another animal as inquisitive, playful, and intelligent as a dog. No wonder it’s called a man’s best friend.
If you have a cactus at home, this inquisitive nature might lead your dog to trouble. Pet owners might wonder how are cactus bad for dogs if they aren’t poisonous.
In short, cacti may not be poisonous, but their spikes can hurt your furry friends.
Are Cactus Bad for Dogs?
When wondering whether to introduce a cactus to your home, you may ask, “Are cactus poisonous to dogs.” The good news is that they are not!
A cactus will not poison your dog if the animal sniffs it or chews on it. This means it is perfectly safe to introduce a cactus to a home with a dog.
However, with the many varieties of cacti and dogs in the USA, you might want to keep your pet away from the cactus. Avoid letting your pet chew on it or take a bite!
Learning more about cacti and their effects on dogs might help you take the necessary measures to protect your pets. Since dogs are particularly energetic and curious, they may need more attention.
Your dog might try to smell or taste any new plant you introduce to your home. Thus, avoiding bringing anything toxic to your home is natural, as it can affect your dog.
We might have determined that cacti are not poisonous. But how are cacti bad for dogs? Can a cactus kill you or your pet? No. But it can definitely hurt!
Cacti plants have sharp spines that can harm your pet. If your dog is used to pawing your plants, these spines can lead to sharp cuts.
Moreover, you must prevent your dog from taking a big bite out of the cactus plant. According to PetMd, biting cactus plants such as the Christmas cactus might cause it to vomit, experience diarrhea, and eventually stop eating due to stomach problems.
Plus, if you have recently sprayed that plant with any insecticide, it automatically becomes a health hazard for your dog. Avoid using severe pesticides for your plants if you have a dog at home.
Some dogs may also be allergic to the sap of the cactus plant. If you are unsure, you can get your dog tested for allergies!
Cactus Varieties that are Poisonous to Dogs
Cactus are generally not poisonous to dogs or animals. But some varieties that belong to the cacti family or imitate cacti might be poisonous. Here are a few;
- Pencil Cactus: Pencil cacti contain a unique sap that looks like milk. This can harm your dog’s skin, eyes, and stomach, causing great, long-lasting damage.
- Canary Islands Cactus: This has a similar effect to the abovementioned plant.
- Saguaro: It has sharp spines that can injure your dogs.
- Cholla: This plant shoots needles as a defense mechanism. Try to avoid introducing it to a home with pets.
- Silver Dollar: The plant isn’t just harmful to dogs. It can also cause harm to humans, as getting pricked might lead to vomiting or tremors.
- Peruvian Torch Cactus: This cactus plant contains spines that can lead to psychotic disorders.
- Peyote Cactus: It can cause breathing and heart-related issues if consumed by dogs.
If you are wondering, “Can a cactus kill you,” the answer depends on the variety of cacti you have in your home. Try to avoid buying any cactus plant that may injure you or your animal.
Why Does My Dog Eat My Cactus?
Are you wondering, “Why does my dog keep biting at my cactus?”
Despite providing dogs with entertainment and countless toys, they may still run toward your cactus the minute you turn your back. Here’s why;
1. Dogs are Energetic
Dogs might not be as curious as cats, but they are certainly energetic. You brought that adorable little puppy home because of the same energy.
If your dog is tiring you out and making you chase it across the room, you have a healthy dog! It needs all the love and attention it can get.
However, no matter what it chews on, keep it away from your cactus. It might want to dig in or explore it with its mouth. However, this must be avoided through training.
2. They Love Plants
Since dogs are used to consuming meat and plants, they will naturally rush toward a new plant you have introduced to your home.
Cacti are especially attractive since they are rich in fiber and vitamins and contain a lot of water to quench thirst. This aids in healthy bowel movement.
3. An Underlying Concern
If your dog is exploring that plant a lot more than average, it could point to a health concern. A normal level of interest is alright, as dogs are natural scavengers. But you must look out for;
- Excessive boredom
We might have established an answer to “Why are cactus bad for dogs,” but that isn’t enough. If your dog gives your cactus plant too much attention, it is a good idea to take it to the vet for a routine checkup!
How to Keep Your Dog Away from Your Cactus
You may not be asking, “Why are cactus poisonous to dogs,” anymore, or wondering, “Can a cactus kill you,” but you may still want to know how you can keep your dog away from your cactus.
Despite cacti not being poisonous to dogs, they can still hurt. Plus, that new cactus you brought home also suffers considerably. It is best to keep them apart.
Certain varieties of cacti in the USA might be poisonous to dogs and humans. Before implementing any of the rules below, consider whether you should part with the cactus.
An easy way to prevent your dog from biting that cactus is by training it. You can find many teachers all across the USA or even learn to train them through online videos.
According to WebMD, what works best is rewarding dogs for good behavior and holding back rewards when they perform an undesirable action.
Punishments might not work in the long run and are a negative solution anyways. Instead, ensure that your dog understands your needs. Teach them that the cactus is off-limits.
It is much easier to teach younger dogs, so if you have a puppy and plan on introducing a cactus to your home in the future, try to teach it now.
Start by isolating an environment and slowly communicate to the dog that it is off-limits. Use treats and start introducing plants while simultaneously attempting to keep the dog away.
2. Discourage it from the Area
If your dog is particularly excited and nothing else seems to work, you might have to use a deterrent or repellant to keep it away.
You can start with strong smells and test your dog’s tolerance. Try not to rely on chemicals that are sourced from outside the home. Instead, look for household ingredients.
You can use lemon to discourage your dogs and keep them at bay. Try sprinkling some lemon juice around the plants or even placing some lemon slices.
Another great idea is to use sound. Since dogs have sensitive ears, they don’t like high-frequency sounds. You can place such sounds near your plant or trigger the sounds when the dog goes near the plant. However, try to ensure that the sound doesn’t harm your animal.
3. Make it Visually Unappealing
Your dog might only want to step around or on that plant if it is reachable. But you can easily change the layout or make it harder for the dogs to access the cacti.
Start by elevating the plants. For smaller pets, this can definitely keep them away. Adding stones to the pot or around it and placing larger pots nearby can introduce a creative hurdle for larger dogs.
Signs Your Dog Needs a Vet
You may try all possible techniques to keep your dog away from the pots. However, they can still get into those pots and chew on a cactus. In the worst case, they might ingest it.
If your dog has consumed a large chunk, it may show some signs of trouble. Depending on its age or previous health conditions, the effects can vary.
Here are some signs you need to take your dog to the vet;
- It has stopped eating and is experiencing stomach pain
- It has been vomiting for some time
- It has been experiencing nausea or diarrhea
Some dogs might experience a negative reaction despite a failure to ingest the plant or a substance. This can lead to swelling and irritation of the eyes or the skin. You may also notice cuts, rashes, blisters, or other signs of irritation.
Tips for Helping a Dog Injured by Cactus Spines
Prevention might be better than cure. But sometimes, emergencies are inevitable. If you notice your dog showing any of the above signs, you must take it to the vet.
However, in case your dog has been injured by cactus spines, it is important to reduce its discomfort and extract the spines immediately.
Disclaimer: If your dog has multiple spines stuck in different places, try not to cause it more discomfort. Take it to the vet immediately.
Removing Cactus Spines
Cactus spines are perhaps the only part of a cactus that can pose a direct danger to the animal. If your dog gets the spines stuck in its mouth, paws, or body, it might be experiencing pain.
The best way to reduce the discomfort is to extract those spines and allow them to breathe a sigh of relief. Ensure that you are fully prepared to extract the spines and sanitize everything as much as possible, as open wounds can easily be infected.
Since your dog is experiencing a lot of discomfort, it might tug at the spines and pull them out using its mouth. If you have a cone lying around, now is a good time to use it.
Try to restrict the dog’s movement before you attempt to lodge out the spines. Keep yourself safe and wear thick gloves if you have some handy.
Begin removing the spines by focusing on smaller ones first. You can use a comb to brush through the dog’s fur. This can easily remove smaller needles.
Bigger needles might require tweezers. Be quick to avoid extra pain or discomfort. Take it one spine at a time, as focusing on multiple backbones might leave you confused.
Since the spines usually penetrate past the skin, removal might lead to blood and an open wound.
- Stop the bleeding first by applying pressure with a cloth.
- Follow this by cleaning the wound with some water, removing any leftover parts of the cactus, and disinfecting with betadine.
- Wrap the area with gauze and leave the cone on the dog until the wounds heal completely.
The worst part of an injury caused by cactus spines is the wound that comes after. Ensure your dog doesn’t pick at the wound or the scabs and allow for complete healing before you remove the cone of shame!
A cactus is a great addition to the home. The right kind of cactus can create a healthy environment by cleaning the air. It is also a low-maintenance plant.
This means that cacti are a wonderful investment for first-time houseplant owners hoping to develop a green thumb. But you might need to be careful if you have a dog at home.
Now that you know the answer to “Why are cactus bad for dogs,” it’s time to dog-proof that cactus and make sure your furry friend stays away from it!
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Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.