Can a Cactus Kill You?
Can it kill your Cat or Dog?

A cactus can seem dangerous at first glance because of its long spines. It makes total sense why anyone would want to stay away. But can it really kill you?

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Kelly Adams

October 10, 2021

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A cactus can be easily identified by its long sharp spines. Most people steer clear away from cacti when looking to buy plants. However, can a cactus actually kill you or your pets? Keep reading to find out more!

A cactus cannot kill you since the spines of a cactus aren’t poisonous. However, if left penetrating the skin, they can cause infections. 

An image of a small cactus in a white container

Can a Cactus Kill you?

No, a cactus cannot kill you. The spines of a cactus do not contain any poison. However, if you don’t treat a wound caused by cactus spines, you can develop an infection. 

Can it Kill your Cat or Dog?

An image of a cat and dog on the grass

A cactus is not poisonous to cats and dogs. Those that fall under the euphorbia genus are poisonous to cats. You can keep a cactus in your house even with pets around. The only thing you need to watch out for are the sharp spines of a cactus. 

Safe cacti include the Christmas cactus, Haworthia fasciata, echeveria, aeonium, pachyphytum, lithops, sedum and sempervivum. 


Keep your pets away from prickly pears because their barbed spines are difficult to remove

What to do After Getting Pricked by a Cactus

An image of cactus spines

If you’ve had a close and scary encounter with a cactus, you might be worrying about how to remove the spines. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Prickly pears, in particular, need to be stayed away from. These cacti have barb-like spines that can easily get stuck to the skin. If you get a lot of  glochids on your hands, you can use glue to get them out. 

You can use duct tape to get them out as well. Only do this if the glue method does not work. 


Wash the affected area with antibacterial soap

Toxic Cacti

An image of cacti in brown pots

Now that we’ve looked at some of the safe cacti, let us list down some cacti you need to watch out for. 

1. Aloe Vera

An image of aloe vera

Aloe vera is perhaps most popular because of its skincare benefits. However, the aloe vera plant is toxic to cats and dogs. It can cause indigestion and vomiting if consumed by pets. 

It contains a toxic liquid called Aloin. This toxin can make your pets very sick. Red urine is also a clear symptom of Aloin poisoning. 

2. Prickly Pear

An image of Prickly pear

The Prickly pear cactus should be kept away from pets at all times. This cactus has small barbed glochids that can easily get stuck to the skin and animal fur. Getting pricked by them can cause severe pain.

What’s worse is that these glochids are difficult to remove too. Tweezers often don’t work if there’s a large number of glochids stuck to the skin. If your pet has a large number of glochids attached to its fur or skin, take it to the vet immediately. Do not waste any more time!


Remove each glochid gently with a tweezer from the skin of your pet. use a thin layer of glue if tweezers don't work.

3. Euphorbia

An image of the Euphorbia plant in sunlight

Euphorbia plants contain a toxic white chemical that can cause vomiting and diarrhea. This chemical can irritate the inside of the mouths of your pet. It can cause redness and irritation.

The white sap of this cactus can irritate the skin and eyes of both you and your pet. It can even burn the skin if left untreated. 

4. Kalanchoe

An image of Kalanchoe

The Kalanchoe plant is classified as poisonous to both humans and pets. The toxic chemical that it contains can have an impact on the heart. If consumed in large quantities, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and an irregular heartbeat.

You will need to rush your pet immediately to the vet after it has consumed this plant. The toxic chemical found in this plant does not have a quick remedy. 

5. Agave

An image of Agave

Agave has been classified as being mildly toxic to pets. This plant can cause abdominal discomfort and pain if consumed. However, it is not toxic enough to kill your pet.

The best way to identify agave poisoning is to look for any signs of irritation and redness around your dog’s mouth. It also causes difficulty in breathing. Take your dog to the vet if you see these symptoms. 


We have looked at whether or not a cactus can kill you or your pets. The answer is no. A cactus cannot actually kill you but the spines of a cactus can cause pain and irritation. Cacti that are toxic to pets include aloe vera, euphorbia and prickly pear. 

If you liked reading about poisonous cacti, you might be interested to check out our post about whether or not cactus spines are poisonous.

Are Cactus Spines Poisonous? Are your Kids & Pets Safe?

A cactus is popular for its long sharp spines. Have you been wondering about whether or not they're poisonous? We've got just the answer!

Kelly Adams Picture

By Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Kelly Adams Picture

Kelly Adams

Easy Succulents Founder

My name is Kelly and I'm the the founder of Easy Succulents! I'm fascinated by this wonderful plants and I want to share with the world everything I know about them!



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