You might have heard that your dog can’t eat aloe. That is only partly true, which I’ll explain later on.
In fact, if you're not considering aloe for your dog, you may be missing out. Aloe can help with many health problems … from constipation and leaky gut to joint pain and cancer.
So today I want to talk about how aloe can help your dog. And how to give it to him safely (it’s much easier than you might think).
What Makes Aloe So Good For Dogs
Aloe is full of important vitamins and minerals. But it’s the beneficial prostaglandins and polysaccharides that really make it a great choice for your dog.
Prostaglandins are lipids that are released from different tissues throughout your dog’s body. They’re unique because of their hormone-like effects. When your dog gets injured or sick, the help …
- Reduce inflammation
- Promote healing
- Manage airways
- Alleviate allergic reactions
Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates made up of simple sugars like glucose. The specific function of a polysaccharide depends on its structure.
The polysaccharide found in aloe is acemannan. Shawn Messonnier DVM wrote a book called The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs. In it he talks about the benefits of acemannan in dogs.
“Acemannan, a polysaccharide immune stimulant found in aloe, may be helpful for pets with allergies, skin infections, and other diseases, including cancer, that suppress the immune system. Acemannan is approved for use as part of the therapy for treating fibrosarcoma tumors in pets.”
And because of these anti-inflammatory and immune stimulating properties ... aloe can be an effective way to manage your dog’s health.
Here are just some of the ways you can use aloe to help your dog feel better ...
6 Ways Aloe Can Boost Your Dog’s Digestive Health (And Much More)
Let’s look at some of the ways aloe can help your dog internally, and then talk about how to use it safely and how much to give.
1. Aloe Relieves Constipation
Aloe relieves constipation by stimulating the muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract.
Aloe also increases the water content in your dog’s intestines. Proper water content in the intestines helps regulate bowel movements.
Finally, aloe’s inner pulp (also known as the fillet or gel) contains mucilage. This is a gooey substance that lines the gut to protect it from irritation.
Caution: Aloe also contains aloe latex. You may have even seen it as an option to treat constipation in humans. You should never give aloe latex to your dog. It contains a substance that is toxic for dogs, which I’ll talk about a bit later on.
2. Leaky Gut And Gut Inflammation
When your dog drinks aloe, it may help fight inflammation and soothe the gastrointestinal tract. This can be incredibly beneficial for dog’s who suffer from digestive issues, including leaky gut.
You see, only one thing separates the contents of your dog’s gut from the rest of his body ... a single layer of cells. When everything is working properly, the cells of this lining stay close together.
This lining allows nutrients to pass through into your dog’s bloodstream. And it keeps bacteria, yeast and other harmful substances in the digestive tract.
But if these cells become irritated, spaces will open up between them and harmful substances will leak into your dog’s bloodstream. This is leaky gut.
Once these substances enter your dog’s bloodstream, his immune systems recognizes these substances as intruders. It launches an attack. But if your dog’s leaky gut isn’t addressed, these intruders will continue to leak out of his gut. The immune system will continue to respond and that can lead to chronic inflammation throughout your dog’s entire body. It’s a growing problem for dogs and overtime it can cause chronic diseases like …
- Skin problems
- Digestive disorders
- Autoimmune diseases
Aloe may help prevent leaky gut and repair damage to the gut lining.
That’s because aloe’s mucilage helps reduce inflammation and irritation in your dog’s digestive tract. It coats the gut lining to soothe and protect it. And it’s shown to help improve mucus production.
Aloe is also full of digestive enzymes.
Digestive enzymes help your dog break down the foods he eats so that he can absorb the nutrients. This puts less stress on your dog’s digestive system and can reduce irritation.
Aloe can be used as an anthelmintic (or antihelminthics), which means it can help expel worms and other parasites from your dog’s body.
It’s digestive health benefits not only help expel worms, aloe can also reduce egg production of the parasites. This interrupts their lifecycle and slows their rate of reproduction.
4. Urinary Tract Infections
You may not know this, but a lot of bladder issues are caused by inflammation. Often there are no bacteria involved.
That means the best way to fix them is to get rid of the inflammation.
Aloe can do just that.
Aloe soothes your dog’s urinary tract the same way it does his digestive tract. It coats it in mucilage to protect it from irritation.
This can help ease irritation of the bladder and kidneys.
5. Joint Health
So far a lot we have talked about how aloe can benefit your dog’s gastrointestinal system … but that isn’t all aloe’s good for.
Because of aloe’s anti-inflammatory properties it’s a good option for joint health.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) are what conventional veterinarians prescribe for joint issues. But these drugs can lead to ulcers, organ toxicity and even further joint issues.
Aloe can help ease symptoms without the side effects of conventional treatment.
Diabetes mellitus (or sugar diabetes) is common in dogs.
Dogs diagnosed with this disease can’t convert food to energy efficiently. This is because they don’t make enough insulin or their body does not properly respond to it. This increases blood sugar levels.
Some studies show that aloe vera may help reduce fasting blood sugar levels in human and animal patients.
Note: If your dog is taking medicine for his diabetes, check with your vet before changing his diet or adding supplements.
How To Give Your Dog Aloe Safely
As wonderful as aloe can be, there are a few cautions you should take when choosing a product or using aloe plants at home.
Look For Aloe Without Aloin
Aloe plants have an ingredient that is toxic for your dog … aloin.
It’s the reason many resources say aloe is toxic and should never be used for pets. But aloin is very easy to separate from the aloe plant (which I’ll get to in just a moment).
Aloin is also called aloe latex. It’s the yellow stuff that’s found right beneath the aloe leaf’s surface.
Aloin has laxative properties, which is why many people use aloe internally. It helps flush the system and clean out toxins.
But if aloin is given in large enough quantities, it can irritate the intestines and cause diarrhea. It can also lead to excessive electrolyte loss.
Used topically, aloin can cause skin issues in dogs (or people) with a latex allergy. If this is the case, you’ll see redness at the site of application.
But not all aloe products 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 [laxative producing] compounds” - Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council
If you buy aloe products for your dog look for gels and juices made from the inner fillet. Food grade products are the best. They won’t contain the aloe latex and are designed to eat safely.
You want to avoid any products that say “gel of plant” or ones that contain the aloe leaf. It’s less likely the aloin has been stripped from these products.
You can also use fresh aloe plants you’ve grown at home or buy leaves from the grocery store (good for 3 days if refrigerated). If you use one of these, the aloe latex is easy to spot.
Split open the leaf and carefully scoop out the gel. Avoid the yellow-orange sap found on the inside of the green leaf - this is the latex.
Aloe from homegrown plants is most effective if it’s at least three years old.
Go Easy On The Saponins
Aloe also contains saponins.
When your dog eats large amounts of saponins, they can cause …
- Loss of appetite
Many of the saponins in aloe are in the latex. So when you remove the yellow-orange sap you will be removing the aloin and many of the saponins.
According to canine herbalist Rita Hogan, there are saponins in the gel but “not enough to be concerned about.” It’s safe to use it internally, in small amounts.
I’ll talk about dosing in more detail in just a moment but first there are a couple of more cautions.
Make sure the aloe has no preservatives, sweeteners or flavorings. Your dog doesn’t need these and some can be very dangerous.
Avoid aloe if your dog has liver and kidney disease as well as for pregnant or lactating dogs.
Aloe Dosage For Dogs
Topically, you can apply aloe twice daily to irritated or injured skin.
If using it internally, add up to ¼ tsp per 10 lbs of weight daily to his food. This will help maintain a healthy system and regulate bowel movements.
Like any new food or natural remedy, introduce it to your dog slowly. Give him a small amount and see how his body reacts. If there’s no upset, add a bit more until you get to the desired dosage.
You can also buy supplements for dogs that use a combination of aloe and other ingredients to target specific conditions. These should be used as recommended on the packaging.
Bonus: Don’t Forget Aloe For Wounds
This is probably how you think of using aloe and it works for dogs just as well as it works for you.
Aside from reducing inflammation, aloe is also antibacterial and antifungal. And it’s an astringent, which means it causes cells to tighten, which can speed healing.
This makes it the perfect choice to soothe skin and fight infection.
Aloe can be applied to …
- Hot spots
For best results, apply it twice a day for any of your pet’s skin ailments. But first there are a few cautions you should be aware of.
I’ll talk about them after we look at some of the internal uses of aloe.
Ready To Give Your Dog Aloe?
Aloe is incredibly useful for dogs. But you have to be sure you use the right part of the plant, otherwise it could make your dog sick.
When you buy aloe, make sure to look for the inner fillet juice or gel and not the whole leaf.
Look for a product that …
- DOESN’T contain the whole leaf, aloin or aloe latex
- Is food grade and made for human consumption
- Is at least 99% pure
- Is organic
Start slowly and make sure aloe is a good match for your dog. If it is, work your way up to the desired dose and watch as your dog enjoys the benefits of aloe.