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.

What part of the plant is safe?

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.

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