If you’re not using aloe vera for your dog, you could be missing out on some very important benefits. 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.
Aloe vera is a perennial, succulent plant that belongs to the Liliaceae family. There are about 500 species of this medicinal plant 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 vera plant in the house. Or you can buy fresh aloe leaves at the grocery store – they’ll keep up to 3 days in the fridge. Aloe is also available in bottles, but you’ll see why this may not be the best option for your dog.
Aloe is well known to soothe sunburn. But it has many other uses too.
What Are The Benefits Of Aloe Vera?
Aloe contains enzymes that help heal itchy skin and reduce inflammation. Aloe vera also contains around 75 other components that give it healing properties. These include:
- Vitamins A, C, and E (antioxidants that neutralize free radicals)
- Vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline
- Minerals like calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, and zinc
- Anthraquinones (often used to relieve constipation)
- Lignin (stimulates digestion)
- Saponins (cleansing and antiseptic effect)
- Salicylic acids (an exfoliant)
- 20 Amino acids (including 8 of the 10 essential amino acids for dogs)
- Fatty acids and sugars
These components lend anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antiseptic properties that allow aloe vera to heal your dog’s body inside and out. From pain relief to reducing the risk of infection, aloe is full of benefits.
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.
Aloe vera is 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. Aloe Relieves Skin Irritation and Rashes
Aloe vera leaf used topically stimulates circulation to create a cooling effect that relieves swelling and speeds the healing of skin rashes. Its antimicrobial properties prevent infection of irritated or inflamed skin by killing harmful bacteria.
Acemannan is a sugar in aloe that is helpful for pets with allergies and skin infections. Research shows that aloe gel also works to slow growth of excess yeast and clear up skin issues. It is safe to use aloe for:
- Relieving an itchy or painful hot spot
- Eczema, flaky skin, or moisturizing your dog’s dry nose
- Soothing heat rash, sunburn, or bug bites
Just make sure you try aloe vera on a small spot on your dog’s skin first. If there’s no irritation, go ahead and apply it to the problem area.
2. Aloe Aids Digestion
Aloe vera is good for your dog’s gut health in several ways. It’s 98% water, so it increases the water content in your dog’s bowels to improve regularity. It stimulates muscle contractions to relieve stomach upset and short term constipation. Aloe also promotes healing along your dog’s gastrointestinal tract … thanks to the prostaglandins it contains.
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. That’s not the only way these enzymes can help your dog…
3. Aloe Soothes Leaky Gut
The gut lining is a single layer of cells with tight spaces between them. When the gut is inflamed, these spaces widen. Undigested protein, harmful bacteria and other inflammatory substances 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 lead to cancer.
Aloe stimulates mucus secretions that protect the lining of the intestinal 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. Aloe Improves 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. Aloe Soothes Urinary Tract 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 produces a mucilage-like substance that coats the urinary tract. This reduces inflammation so there’s less chance for infection to take hold.
6. Aloe May Help Manage Diabetes
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 for that.
7. Aloe Helps Eliminate Worms
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 to prevent new parasites from developing. Aloe is a non-toxic way of treating your dog for worms.
And now … here’s the warning you’ve been waiting for. For internal issues like worms and leaky gut, you can feed aloe to your dog. But he mustn’t eat the whole leaf. Here’s what you need to know …
Can Aloe Vera Be Toxic To Dogs?
Yes, aloe vera can be toxic if you forget this warning … or if your dog eats your indoor aloe plant. 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 If your dog has a latex allergy and you use 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.
If your dog eats some whole aloe leaf by mistake, you don’t need to panic. Depending on how much of the plant he ate, he may vomit and have diarrhea. Make sure he drinks enough water and keep an eye on him.
If he ate a lot and is showing more severe symptoms, give your vet a call. She may suggest you induce vomiting, or bring him in for a gastric lavage to get the aloe vera out of his system.
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 an aloe plant at home or you bought leaves from the grocery store, you can easily get the gel out. Use broad thick leaves so you’ve got lots to work with. Then it’ll be easy to avoid the yellow latex next to the skin.
To get the gel from the leaf …
- 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 quite quickly, 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.
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
It’s easy to use aloe vera to heal your dog.
Apply aloe gel twice daily to soothe irritated skin, rashes, insect bites, etc.
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.
Cautions With Aloe Vera For Dogs
Before using aloe vera on your dog’s skin, start with a small amount to test for a possible allergic reaction. Give it a few minutes before proceeding and if it’s all clear, go ahead.
Don’t give aloe vera 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.
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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