If you’ve ever had a sunburn, you likely know about the soothing powers of aloe vera. What you might not know, though, is that aloe vera can be used for other skin issues—like cuts and abrasions.
Can aloe vera for dogs be used in the same way? We asked veterinarians to weigh in.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a plant commonly used to soothe wounds, burns, and other skin conditions in people. According to Dr. Karie Johnson, co-founder of VIP Vet Visit, aloe vera can also be safe for use on dogs.
However, she recommends that pet parents use aloe vera products made specifically for pets, “as human products can use the leaves of the plant, which are toxic to pets if ingested.”
How Does Aloe Vera for Dogs Work?
The aloe vera plant contains the chemical compound aloin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. “When applied to your dog’s red and inflamed skin, it can decrease inflammation and soothe their skin,” says Dr. Sara Ochoa, a veterinarian with Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital.
Aloe vera is also high in vitamins A (good for vision and immunity, among other things), C (which helps with the forming of muscle and collagen, as well with the healing process), and E (good for the health of blood, brain, and skin).
How to Use Aloe Vera for Dogs
Aloe vera comes in many different forms and different types of products. The kind that works best will be dependent on your dog and their skin condition. Some are creams and shampoos that you can rub directly on your dog’s skin, says Ochoa. If you decide to try a cream or lotion, she recommends only applying a small amount to the skin to keep it from getting too oily.
Johnson recommends ensuring that your pet doesn’t lick areas where aloe vera is applied in case parts of the leaf—which can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs—are accidentally used in the product preparation. It is best to supervise and distract your dog for 15 minutes after application to allow the product to soak in and not be licked off. After applying aloe, take your dog for a walk!
Aloe Vera Side Effects in Dogs
Any time you decide to add something new to your dog’s wellness regimen, it’s always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian first. With aloe vera, your veterinarian can help you recognize potential adverse side effects or suggest the right products based on your dog’s needs.
Finding the right product is essential because aloe vera also has laxative properties, and ingesting too much may cause your dog’s stool to become very loose, Ochoa says.
Animals that ingest aloe plants directly may vomit or have diarrhea. If your dog reacts this way after being exposed to an aloe product, call your veterinarian immediately.
What to Look for in Aloe Vera Products for Your Dog
Aloe vera can be purchased online or at your favorite pet store, but Ochoa reminds pet parents to always start with their veterinarian if they’re in the market for these products.
“When looking for a company, make sure to choose one that is reputable,” she adds. “Some companies have products that don’t contain enough aloe vera to provide any benefits to your dog.”
Remember that not all pets do well with topical aloe vera products since they may be prone to licking, says Johnson. In this case, it would be best to avoid them altogether.