You can apply pure, commercially prepared aloe vera gel to your dog's scrapes or minor skin irritations with peace of mind; any amount he would consume by licking it off his skin is typically too nominal to create any internal disturbances. However, if you want to be extra safe, only apply commercially prepared aloe gel to areas where your dog can't easily lick.
Additionally, most reputable brands of aloe vera gel are prepared without the toxic component. However, you do need to be concerned about him eating an aloe vera plant or leaf, or consuming too much aloe vera juice.
Prepared Aloe Gel
Always check with your vet if your dog has a serious wound such as a puncture, or if a wound is red and painful to the touch. Applying aloe vera gel to minor scrapes and sores, however, can safely hasten their healing. Check the label on your commercially prepared aloe gel to ensure it doesn't have any additives that can irritate your dog's skin, or isn't harmful if ingested -- pure aloe gel formulas should contain just the gel.
Internal Use of Aloe Vera
Never give your dog aloe vera or a derivative, such as juice or tincture, without consulting your veterinarian; she may have cause to administer a small dose internally, but excessive doses can cause diarrhea and vomiting. While the aloe vera plant is not considered highly palatable to most dogs, if your dog is the exception he may experience severe gastrointestinal side effects from eating it, as the leaf sap is a laxative. Severe diarrhea in dogs can be life threatening. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you know your dog has chewed on an aloe vera plant, if he starts vomiting excessively, has diarrhea, stops eating or begins to shake or tremble.
Do not apply straight from the aloe leaf, as this could be harmful to your dog if he licks it. Pure aloe contains saponins, which can be toxic if ingested.
Medicinal Properties of Aloe Vera
Your dog's minor scrapes and wounds may heal faster with topical aloe vera gel treatment. Aloe vera contains a compound called acemannan, believed to stimulate cells into boosting the body's own immunity responses. Some veterinarians -- with the blessing of the US Department of Agriculture -- use acemannan to treat certain cancers in dogs and cats. It also may improve vaccine effectiveness. Acemannan is extremely nontoxic but should never be administered without a veterinarian's prescription or counsel, particularly if your dog has a serious illness.
Again, be sure your dog does not ingest pure aloe, as it can be seriously toxic to dogs. Always consult your vet when using any new medication or topical solution.
- PetMD: Herbal Remedies for Dogs
- Google Books: Veterinary Herbal Medicine, pgs. 466, 468
- U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: Abstract: Acemannan Purified from Aloe Vera Induces Phenotypic and Functional Maturation of Immature Dendritic Cells
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Biological Response Modifiers
- Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital: Follow-up on Toxins: Aloe Vera
- ASPCA: Aloe
- Google Books: Pharmacodynamic Basis of Herbal Medicine, Second Edition (pgs. 152-153)
- ASPCA: Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List - Dogs