So we get the occasional piece of hate mail here at DNM …
… but I have to admit this most recent one surprised me a little bit!
It turns out somebody took exception to our article on using essential oils for fearful dogs. Here’s what she found:
We know aloe has a long history of use, both internally and externally.
But is it really POISONOUS TO DOGS? Apparently, this disgruntled reader thought so and sent me this email …
I read this email and instead of replying just to this concerned pet owner, I thought I’d share it with you.
How Did Latex Get Into Aloe?
So this pet owner has a right to be concerned … maybe not quite so nasty about it, but hey, I appreciate her passion!
But anyway, aloe does have a constituent that can be harmful to both people and pets if given in large enough quantities.
Why would I give aloe to my dog in the first place? Click here to find out!
It’s a little part of the plant called aloe latex. This is the yellow stuff that’s found right beneath the aloe leaf’s surface. This latex contains a natural chemical called aloin.
Interestingly, aloin can cause skin issues in anybody with an existing latex allergy. If this is the case, you’ll see redness at the site of application.
Aloin also has laxative properties … and that’s why many people (and pets) take aloe internally as a potent and effective toxin cleanse.
Aloe has even been shown to be a powerful immunostimulant and has been used to treat fibrosarcoma in cats.
But if aloin is given in large enough quantities, it can irritate the intestines and lead to excessive electrolyte loss.
Not All Aloes Are The Same
Despite the strong laxative properties of aloe, chances are your dog won’t be harmed from licking the occasional bit of gel if you use it as a base for essential oils.
And even if he does, most commercial products don’t contain aloin.
“Most commercial aloe raw materials used for aloe juice, aloe dietary supplements, and aloe-based cosmetics are usually made from the aloe gel, devoid of the whole leaf material and thus the althrone (laxative producing) compounds” says Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council.
So what’s the bottom line on aloe?
If you have an aloe plant at home, make sure you only apply it to areas of your dog where he can’t lick it … or learn how to cut the aloe leaf so none of that yellow latex contaminates your aloe juice!
If you’re not sure how to do that, then there are plenty of commercial aloe products available. Most have had the latex removed, but not all.
To be sure the latex is removed, purchase a food grade aloe or avoid whole leaf products and your dog should be just fine.
So in answer to this reader’s email, aloe isn’t really poisonous, although some gels and whole leaf applications should be used with caution if being used internally.
In case you were wondering, I do indeed read our articles (and I even write from time to time) and we have a stable of fact checkers.
So I stand behind the topical use of aloe 100 percent!
Besides, aloe has a really yucky and bitter taste … so your dog isn’t all that likely to eat it anyway!
If you’d like to learn more about aloe and your dog, check out this great article from animal herbalist, Greg Tilford.