The gel from the aloe plant is used for everything from sunburns to colon cleansing to stopping hair loss. It's a versatile natural healing agent. But just because it's organic doesn't mean it's automatically safe for canine treatment. Aloe is only appropriate for certain uses with your dog.
Never for Ingestion
Aloe contains saponins, elements that have a toxic effect on dogs if they eat them. In the Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats, veterinarian Shawn Messonnier notes that eating aloe vera can result in severe diarrhea for your dog. Other poisoning effects of aloe vera on your eat-anything dog are darkened urine, muscle spasms and weight loss.
Although aloe should never be given to your dog orally, you can still use it externally for its topical benefits -- if you ensure that your dog doesn't lick the area to which you apply the gel. Used on the skin, aloe is effective in treating conditions such as hot spots and allergic reactions. The American Animal Hospital Association also notes that aloe can be used to treat cuts and will protect wounds from infection.
Other Natural No-Nos
The list of plants that are toxic to dogs is longer than just the aloe vera plant. The dangerous saponins in aloe can also be found in buckeye, English holly, English ivy and nightshade. Azaleas and rhododendrons, lily of the valley, milkweed, daffodils and chysanthemums are also among the many plants that can cause serious symptoms like nausea, vomiting and shock and may even result in death if your dogs ingests them.
Some Dog-Safe Plants
For every plant that is potentially toxic, there is one that is perfectly safe for your dog. Many are herbal and can be used for medicinal purposes. Just many are plants that you may simply want to cultivate in your garden without worrying whether or not they are dangerous to your dog. On the list of safe herbs for your dog is licorice, burdock, red clover and catnip (yes -- catnip!). As for your flower garden, you can rest assured that your dog will be safe around begonias, geraniums, miniature roses and Swedish ivy.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- The Doctors Book of Home Remedies for Dogs and Cats; Editors of Prevention Magazine Health Books
- Healthy Pet: Herbal Supplements and Nutraceuticals
- Vet Info: What Plants are Poisonous to Dogs?
- Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats; Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M.
- Medicinal Herb Info: Aloe
- Vet Info: Medicinal Herbs for Dogs
- Vet Info: Elements of a Dog-Safe Garden
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.