Aloe vera is a plant that can offer many benefits to your companion animal but it is very important to know how to safely use it.
If you break an aloe vera leaf open you notice two things: the center clear/greenish goo (this is what the gel is made from) and, around the edges, a white sap (this is the latex the plant produces). The gel is not toxic, but the latex can cause problems for your dog or cat.
Fortunately, the vast majority of aloe products you buy, including those for hot spots, have had any toxic latex removed during processing so you can safely use them.
What about using the leaf as a topical?
If you apply the gel portion of the leaf to a dog’s hot spot or a wound and the dog licks it, it should not be a problem. Avoid using the latex portion of the plant.
What are the symptoms of aloe toxicity?
The latex of aloe is considered a purgative (a substance that empties the intestinal tract usually by inducing diarrhea). If an animal eats quite a bit of the plant (and it is very bad tasting), you could see mild stomach upset or possibly vomiting. Severe diarrhea can be life threatening because it can eventually cause dehydration and IV fluids may be needed.
What to do if your dog eats your aloe plant?
Watch for diarrhea. If it’s severe, call your vet. Make sure you eliminate exposure to the plant.
What about those products with aloe in them?
Any product is unsafe if used incorrectly. So follow the manufacturers recommendations. Again, most of these products have had the toxic principle removed.
What are the benefits of aloe?
Scientists have not yet been able to isolate the component in aloe vera responsible for its healing, moisturizing and cell regenerating powers. However, it has been discovered that the fleshy pulp inside the leaves contains essential nutrients that can alleviate many chronic conditions.
• The most important vitamins in aloe are the antioxidant vitamins c and E, and beta carotene. aloe is also one of the few plant sources of vitamin B12.
• The body requires 22 amino acids – aloe vera gel provides 20. More importantly, it provides essential amino acids that cannot be manufactured by the body and have to be consumed as food. aloe vera helps enhance nutrient absorption and maintain a healthy digestive system.
• Minerals in aloe include magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, chromium, calcium, sodium, potassium and iron.
• The sugars in aloe vera include the important long chain polysaccharides, which boost the immune system.
• The enzymes lipase and protease break down food and aid digestion; carboxypeptidase is involved in the inflammatory process.
• Three main types of plant sterols act as powerful anti inflammatory agents.
• Saponins exert a powerful antimicrobial effect against bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeasts such as candida or “thrush”.
• Aloe contains anthraquinones, the most important being aloin and emodin. They are strong painkillers, and acknowledged to possess anti-bacterial and viruscidal activity. in their pure form, they are very powerful laxatives.