If you’re not using aloe vera for your dog, you could be missing out on some very important benefits. There’s so much that will help him.
But before you grab that bottle of aloe gel from your cupboard, there’s one ingredient you need to know about. Otherwise you could accidentally make your dog sick. First, let’s look at the good that aloe vera does.
What Exactly Is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera belongs to the Liliaceae family. It’s a perennial, succulent plant.
There are about 500 species and only a few are edible. The most common edible variety is Aloe vera barbadensis. It’s recognized for its long triangular, fleshy leaves with serrated edges.
You can keep an aloe plant in the house. Or you can buy fresh aloe leaves at the grocery store – they’ll keep for three days in the refrigerator.
You can also buy bottled aloe but this won’t contain the enzymes that help heal itchy skin and decrease inflammation. These are only in the fresh plant.
You can find out more about the right way to use fresh plants and choose bottled gel later. But before that let’s look at what else is in aloe vera.
What Makes Aloe Vera So Great?
Enzymes aren’t the only reason aloe vera is so beneficial. Aloe vera contains about 75 other components that give it its various healing properties. This includes:
- Fatty acids
- Anthraquinones (often used to relieve constipation)
- Lignin (stimulates digestion)
- Saponins (cleansing and antiseptic effect)
- Salicylic acids (an exfoliant)
Aloe also has 20 amino acids including 8 of the 10 essential amino acids dogs need. It provides vitamin A (beta-carotene), vitamins C and E (antioxidants that neutralize free radicals) and vitamin B12, folic acid and choline. Plus several minerals including calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
These allow aloe vera to heal your dog’s body inside and out. Fatty acids have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. An analgesic provides pain relief. Aloe also has antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties. They stop or reduce growth of fungi, bacteria and viruses. That reduces the risk of infection and stops the spread of pathogens.
Now that you know more about aloe vera and what it does, here’s how it can help your dog.
7 Ways Aloe Vera Can Help Your Dog
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that’s great to have around in case of sunburn. But it has many more uses beyond rubbing its gel on blistered skin.
It’s a valuable tool for dealing with a variety of skin irritations like rashes, burns, frostbite and psoriasis. And it’s not just for external use. Internally it helps with digestion, leaky gut and even worms.
Let’s look at some of these in more detail …
1. Skin Rashes and Irritation
Let’s start with topical treatments. Aloe vera can speed the healing of skin rashes and provide relief and calm swelling. It stimulates circulation to create a cooling effect. It’s antimicrobial and kills bacteria that might infect inflamed skin.
Acemannan is one of the sugars found in aloe. It’s useful for pets with allergies, skin infections and other diseases. Its antifungal properties help clear up skin conditions. Studies have shown that aloe gel works against yeast to reduce further growth.
Use aloe for heat rash, hot spots and sunburn. Its anti-inflammatory properties and cooling nature offer relief. Other support is usually needed to heal a hot spot, but aloe helps relieve pain and itching. You can also use it on your dog’s dry nose, flaky skin, eczema or bug bites.
When using aloe vera on your dog, try it on a small spot. If there’s no irritation, apply the gel to the area. Reapply every few hours to provide relief as needed.
Aloe vera is good for your dog’s gut health in several ways. Aloe vera is 98% water so it increases the water content in your dog’s bowels to improve regularity. And it stimulates muscle contractions to relieve short term constipation.
Aloe also has digestive enzymes that break down food, which puts less stress on the gut. And better digestion helps your dog absorb important nutrients.
Aloe also promotes healing thanks to the prostaglandins that it contains.
3. Leaky Gut
The gut lining is a single layer of cells with tight spaces between. When the gut is inflamed, these spaces widen. Undigested protein, harmful bacteria and other inflammatory factors escape the digestive tract. Then they enter the body through the bloodstream where they can cause chronic, low-grade inflammation. This is leaky gut. It can cause chronic organ disease if not corrected.
Leaky gut is the “great imitator” and is the root cause of many common inflammatory disorders, including:
- Digestive issues
- Liver and kidney issues
If left unchecked, chronic inflammation caused by leaky gut can even cause cancer.
Aloe stimulates mucus secretions that protect the lining of the digestive tract. This helps soothe irritation. When aloe soothes inflammation, cells of the gut lining tighten. This blocks the yeast, bacteria and other particles from getting through.
4. Joint Health
Aloe has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce joint inflammation. In fact, research shows drinking aloe juice helps arthritis.
Apply the gel directly on swollen joints like a lotion. This helps ease symptoms without the side effects of conventional treatments.
5. Urinary Tract Infections
Aloe is useful for urinary infections. A lot of bladder issues are caused by inflammation without any bacteria present. If you can get rid of the inflammation, you can solve the problem. Aloe is great for that.
Aloe produces a mucilage-like substance that coats the urinary tract. This reduces inflammation so there’s less chance for infection to take hold.
Diabetic dogs don’t make enough insulin to convert food to energy efficiently. This increases the sugar level in their blood. Aloe vera may lower blood sugar in dogs with diabetes.
You might even be able to lower your dog’s insulin medication … but talk to a holistic vet before using aloe vera.
Aloe vera has anthelmintic properties. This means it has the ability to expel parasites like worms from your dog’s body.
It also helps reduce the production of eggs. This prevents new parasites from developing. This is a non-toxic way of treating your dog for worms.
For internal issues like worms and leaky gut, you can feed aloe to your dog. But he can’t eat the entire leaf. Here’s why …
WARNING: Aloe Can Be Toxic
When you give your dog aloe you need to know which part to use. The clear gel will help your dog – a lot. But there’s one part of the aloe plant that can make him sick. And that’s the aloe latex.
When you break open an aloe leaf, the latex is the yellow layer between the green leaf and clear gel. It contains a natural chemical called aloin, which can cause skin issues in anybody with an existing latex allergy. If your dog has a latex allergy, his skin will get irritated when you apply it topically.
Aloin also has laxative properties. That’s why many people take aloe internally as a potent and effective toxin cleanse. But in dogs, aloin in large quantities can cause diarrhea, irritate the intestines and lead to excessive electrolyte loss.
The good news is it’s easy to give aloe to your dog without the aloe latex.
How To Find A Good Aloe Product
There are lots of aloe products on the market from topical gels to tasty drinks. But when you buy a premade aloe product for your dog, you need to choose the right one.
Products you buy for yourself may have other ingredients and chemicals that could cause irritation. For example, these are the ingredients in one brand of “Pure” Aloe Vera Gel:
- Organic aloe barbadensis leaf juice – this is the good stuff.
- Carbomer – an emulsifier and thickening agent.
- 1,2-hexanediol – a synthetic emollient.
- Hydroxyacetophenone – a synthetic antioxidant that can cause eye or skin irritation. It’s also harmful if swallowed.
- Triethanolamine – a surfactant that is also a skin and respiratory allergen.
- Disodium edta – a food preservative that binds to metals. It’s safe for limited use.
Look for a product that doesn’t contain chemicals like these! If you’re not sure about an ingredient, you can look it up at ewg.org.
You also want to make sure the aloe has no preservatives, sweeteners or flavorings. It should be organic and 100% aloe vera.
When used for eating or drinking, it may be 100% aloe or have citric acid added as a preservative. Either way, be sure it doesn’t contain aloin … especially when using it internally.
How To Prepare Fresh Aloe Vera
If you have a plant at home or have purchased leaves from the grocery store, you can easily get the gel out of them.
Use broad thick leaves so you’ve got lots to work with. Then you’ll be certain to avoid the yellow latex next to the skin.
To get the gel from the leaf follow these steps …
- Wash the aloe leaf and cut down the sides to remove thorns.
- Peel both sides to remove gel. The inside will be very slimy. This is normal.
- Remove all green peel and yellow latex.
- Cut the chunks of gel into 1 inch pieces.
You’ll want to use fresh gel right away. Aloe oxidizes over time so store it in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you can’t use it all up, you can also freeze it. Just place the pieces on a tray in one layer and freeze for 3-4 hours. After they’ve frozen, put them in an airtight plastic bag and put that back into the freezer.
To make juice:
Put 2 tablespoons (2×1-inch cubes) of the aloe gel in a blender. Add 16 ounces of water. Blend until the cubes dissolve.
How To Use Aloe For Your Dog
Before using aloe vera, start with a small amount to test for a possible reaction. Give it a few minutes before proceeding and if it’s all clear, go ahead.
Don’t Give Aloe To Pregnant Or Lactating Dogs
Aloe passes through the mother’s milk. Puppies shouldn’t need the healing properties of aloe. It loosens the bowels and can stop constipation. This means it can cause diarrhea in a nursing pup.
TOPICALLY: Apply aloe gel twice daily to soothe irritated skin, rashes, insect bites, etc.
INTERNALLY: Feed aloe vera to your dog for digestive support. Scoop a tablespoon of gel (taking care to avoid the yellow latex). Blend it with 8 ounces of spring water. Or dilute it in bone broth and add it to your dog’s dinner. You can add up to ¼ teaspoon of gel per 10 lbs of weight daily to your dog’s food.
It’s safe to use aloe vera internally and externally to heal your dog. It’ll soothe everything from his nose to his toes to his gut.
It’s safe to use aloe vera internally and externally to heal your dog. Just stay away from the latex. It’ll soothe everything from his nose to his toes to his gut.
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