Aloe Vera looks like a cactus but is actually part of the lily family. It grows in parts of the world that are either tropical or semitropical. It is an attractive plant that is often grown in terrariums around homes in addition to being used in a whole host of cosmetics and skin lotions.
Aloe Vera has long been used by humans for a variety of their own ailments. Most commonly, humans like to put it on their skin when they have had too much sun and have become burnt. But given that most dogs don’t have skin that is seen by the sun, can it be used by our canine friends to improve their health or quality of life in any way? And is it safe to use it?
In this guide to Aloe Vera in dogs, we look at answering these questions so that as dog owners we can use the plant safely, and to its ultimate and best use. It can help us get out of a number of different problems, so it’s good to have in our first aid kits and know how to use it.
Benefits of Using Aloe Vera in Dogs
The best benefits of Aloe tend to be found when used externally on the skin. This is down to the plant’s properties that make it antibacterial and antifungal as well as able to be used as an anti-inflammatory. This is why it is so soothing when applied to our skin, as well as your dogs.
The reason it reduces inflammation is due to it containing prostaglandins which also work at promoting healing or stopping allergic reactions in their tracks. Keeping this in mind, Aloe Vera is fantastic to apply to any or all skin infections to help stimulate healing or help kill off the infection that may be propagating. Additionally, with all these fantastic properties within Aloe, it is an ideal remedy to apply topically to any wounds or burns and even perhaps skin irritations like bites, stings or eczema. What helps particularly with dogs is that Aloe feels cooling and so they are more likely to allow owners to apply it in the first place, without causing a fuss.
Below is a complete list of conditions that Aloe can be used to help benefit your dog.
- Sore ears that are causing your dog irritation due to mass yeast growth. The antifungal property of Aloe helps fight the yeast’s ability to spread.
- Dandruff is actually caused by a small fungus. It situates itself within the pores upon your dog’s skin where the hair follicles can also grow. Aloe can help immensely with this problem as not only does it kill the fungus causing dandruff in the first place, it also soothes and moisturizes your dog’s poor skin.
- Dry, cracked noses or paws. Aloe Vera can be used as a cure for Athlete’s foot in humans, and similarly, if your dog suffers from a problem like that, Aloe can be used on their paws too. If you notice that their paws are dry or cracked, try applying some Aloe to it. The same can be said of dry cracked paws.
- Ringworm is a fungus that affects both humans and dogs. Ringworm looks like a nasty circle on your dog’s skin and can cause itching. Aloe vera helps in the fight against curing it due to its antifungal properties.
- Hot Spots. When dogs suffer from hot spots, it can be incredibly painful due to the amount of itching it causes as well as the pain from the heat that hotspots bring about. It’s a good idea to treat them as quickly as possible as they can become bigger through over scratching by your dog who spreads the infection around the spot with its paws or tongue. Aloe vera will cool the hot spot right down to stop your dog from scratching as well as promoting healing of the wound in the first place.
- Infected sores in skin folds. This is a type of bed sore that can affect dogs that have folds of skin. They can be incredibly painful and actually quite dangerous if left unnoticed or undiagnosed for a length of time. Aloe vera can help in the initial stages as it will help to kill off the infection due to its antibacterial and antifungal abilities while its cooling sensation stops a dog from itching, thus preventing its ability to heal.
- Should your poor dog suffer from a burn for any reason, applying aloe vera can really alleviate any pain for them. Perhaps they have walked on a pavement that is too hot in the Summer and consequently had sore paws. Aloe vera will cool any sores down quickly while cleaning out the wound to prevent further infection.
How To Use Aloe Vera
The best and ultimate way to use aloe vera on dogs is to apply it topically. Given that one of the main benefits of using it is its a cooling property, applying it topically is one of the most efficient ways to reap those advantages of its usage.
To apply it properly, you do not need to go out and buy an actual Aloe plant. Instead, all you need to do is work with your vet to pick out the best cream or ointment available to you that contains the healing plant. It is particularly important to consult your vet as he or she will know your dog’s past history which is especially key if they have an existing skin condition. The creams and ointments available to dog owners will have been formulated to be safe to dogs too so it is always best to use a specialized lotion to ensure your dogs continued wellbeing.
In fact, it is very much discouraged to use the plant itself. This is because there are some parts of Aloe that are bad for dogs. It is the outer edges of the sap, called latex, that can cause your dog some gastrointestinal issues, if not more when ingested at too large a volume. It has been seen to have some strong laxative effects on dogs and in some cases can even be toxic.
The part of the plant that is needed, to help enjoy the benefits it can provide, is the very inner of the leaves. This part is green and is totally safe to use. But it is best to avoid applying any part of the plant directly to your dog. The risk of using the wrong part is just too great and not worth the chance. Plus, given the amount of specially formulated lotions out there, it is just as quick and easy to purchase one of these from your vet. This way you totally avoid any adverse reactions.
The Best Aloe Products For Dogs
So what are the best aloe products for dogs? Well, given that the part of the plant that is useful is the inner juice, ensure that this is what is included for it to have any use at all. Following on from that, the best products will not include any preservatives, sweeteners or flavors. It will also be organic and pure. This is both best for your dog and for the environment to stop over farming of the plant that can destroy habitats to harvest it.
In terms of what type of products are best for the different ailments above, this is a handy list to help keep an eye out when at the vet’s.
- Aloe Tooth Gel – This specially formulated gel stops any laxative effect that your dog may incur if they were to ingest the wrong part of the aloe plant or too much of it. It can really help in your fight against the plaque on your dog’s teeth as well as helping to fight against any mouth infections around the teeth and gums. So many health issues develop from a dog having poor dental hygiene so this is a great product to research to buy
- Aloe Gelly – This formulation of aloe is perfect for applying topically to smaller skin conditions like cuts and grazes.
- Aloe gel with propolis – This is fantastic to buy if you see it at your vet’s. It can really help support your fight against your dog suffering from dry or cracked skin. These conditions can crop up and be quite painful when on their noses and paws.
- Aloe liquid soap – Dogs hate to have a bath, but when you do bathe them, it is a great idea to include aloe in their dog shampoo as it can help the skin beneath their fur. This means that any dogs that sadly suffer from recurring bouts of dandruff and eczema should see a considerable improvement in their skin’s health and then, therefore, the overall look of their coat.
- Aloe heat lotion – This formulation of Aloe gel helps to penetrate deep down so that dogs that have been running around all day, and are perhaps not young enough to do so anymore, can have some heat relief directed into their stiff joints. It can also help soothe tired muscles. This is fantastic to have around if you have an aging working dog, or simply a dog that does not know how to slow down for its own good.
What To Do If Your Dog Ingests Aloe Vera
When used properly, Aloe Vera is not only safe to use on dogs, it is an excellent weapon to have in your arsenal of helping to soothe their various ailments. However, that is not to say, like all drugs or herbal remedies alike, that it is 100% safe to use all the time.
For Aloe Vera, it is simply not a good idea for your dog to ingest any of it. While a large amount of it is needed to be eaten to be toxic, even a small amount can cause it to have an upset stomach which can lead to dehydration if it is bad enough. Bearing this in mind, ensure that your dog is not licking any part of its body that you have applied an Aloe Gel lotion or ointment to.
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If you do notice that it has ingested some of the lotions you applied, try to make sure they drink plenty of water and call your vet immediately for advice. They will probably suggest simply watching your pooch closely for any deterioration in their condition, but as they will know your dog’s history, they will know what is the best course of action to take.
Knowing how to use Aloe Vera for your dog is a fantastic idea given that it can alleviate so many different skin conditions and problems. While it is obviously not without its risks, those risks are easy to circumnavigate and avoid with the correct application of a gel. Plus, it is a herbal and natural remedy so it avoids the need for harsh chemicals that some drugs or ointments contain. This means that the side effects that those harsh chemicals can provoke are avoided and your dog’s health is ultimately better in the long run.
Skin conditions and skin infections can sometimes be the start of more serious problems, so knowing that aloe vera and its creams can be used to stop or prevent those conditions in the first place, is a great piece of knowledge for a dog owner to have. Take the time to learn how to use Aloe Vera safely, and your dog will never have to suffer from a painful dermatitis issue again.