Why We Love Aloe Vera
You’re probably aware of aloe vera's dominance in the world of human beauty and skincare. The green, cactus-looking plant that sits out in your garden isn't just a plant with roots in folklore, it's the crux of a multi-billion dollar industry that extends from beauty creams to healthy juices and diet supplements. Over time, aloe vera has seamlessly integrated itself into almost everything we use. But is aloe vera safe for dogs? It’s true that not all things that are good for humans are also good for pets. But in the case of using aloe vera for dogs, its many uses and wellness properties for humans can benefit for our pets as well!
Risks of Using Aloe Vera for Dogs
Products containing aloe vera are generally innocuous when used correctly. However, dogs should not be given the whole leaves of the aloe vera plant. The leaves contain saponins, glycosides, and other compounds that are mildly toxic for domestic animals. If a large amount of the plant is eaten, your dog may experience vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, and urinary changes. Ingestion of large quantities may cause tremors, although this is rare.
But don't be dissuaded from using the aloe vera plant as a complement to your pet's health regimen. Using the right part of the plant in the proper form will allow your four-legged companion to benefit from the use of this tropical succulent. Raw aloe vera gel taken directly from the plant and liquid made from the extracts are two forms of aloe vera that pet parents utilize.
Anatomy of the Aloe Vera Plant
What makes this miracle plant so outstanding? There are some incredible properties of aloe vera that you must know to understand all the hype about the green plant and the gel. You would be surprised to know that every part of the aloe vera plant can be put to daily use. From leaves to stems to the gel it produces, aloe vera has many daily uses.
The aloe vera plant is about one or two feet tall with prickly and bitter leaves, which act as a defense to keep animals and insects from feeding on the plant. The leaves hold a gooey translucent gel, also extremely bitter, and known all over the world for its unbelievable healing properties. This translucent gel is made up of around 96% water, some organic and inorganic compounds, and a type of protein which contains 18 of the 20 amino acids found in the body and lastly Vitamins A, B, C and E.
One of the most crucial elements found in aloe vera gel is a complex carbohydrate known as Acemannan. It allows nutrients to reach the cells, nourish them, and at the same time relieve them of toxins.
Another part of the aloe vera plant which is used is the 'sap', a yellow-colored liquid stuck to the skin of the plant from the inside. When dried and purified, the powdered aloe is often used as a laxative, though its effectiveness is unproven.
Aloe Vera for the Skin
Just like in humans, a dog's skin needs nutrition of its own. When formulated into properly designed pet care products, aloe vera can treat, exfoliate, restore, reveal and provide constant, impressive nutrition to the skin. Aloe is known to be soothing and cooling and that’s why Ayurvedic wellness experts refer to Aloe Vera as the miracle herb that can be used to treat wounds, minor cuts, dry skin and severe burns.
Dr. Deepali Bhardwaj, a Delhi-based dermatologist says, "Aloe vera is rich in Vitamins C, E and beta carotene which gives it its nourishing and anti-aging qualities. It can moisturize the skin without making it greasy, which makes it a great buy for those with oily skin." For humans, she suggests drinking aloe vera juice early in the morning on an empty stomach because it improves digestion and cures many stomach troubles. For use with our pets, we have incorporated aloe vera into our TrueBlue Super Easy Ear Wipes, and our Pure & Sure Puppy Wipes, and even our Fresh Fur Cat Wipes.
In addition to moisturizing the skin, aloe vera provides additional skin benefits for both humans and our pets.
Helping to heal small wounds and cuts
The active ingredients in the aloe plant—vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and peptides—work to heal skin from a variety of minor ailments, says Dr. Sonia Batra, a board-certified dermatologist. It's even been shown to expedite wound healing. Puppies especially can tend to get small nicks and cuts from their rambunctious play. Active dogs can also pick up small cuts on their paw pads.
Minimizing skin redness and irritation
The vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in aloe vera also reduce inflammation and skin agitation. For dogs, the skin inside their ears is especially sensitive. The aloe vera in TrueBlue Super Easy Ear Wipes can provide an effective treatment for many dermatological issues.
Aloe Vera for Your Dog's Healthy Coat
For many of the reasons that Aloe Vera is good for the skin, it can also help your dog's coat. The hydrating power of aloe vera, coupled with its soothing nature and antibacterial properties, can help reduce itchiness and also acts as a great conditioner that leaves your dog's coat all smooth and shiny.
That’s why we use Aloe Vera in our TrueBlue Moisture Rich Conditioning Crème. In the human world, we tend to think of hair care and skin care as separate things with separate products. But dogs, of course, have skin and hair all mixed together all over their bodies. And that’s why Aloe Vera, with its double duty of helping skin and hair, is perfect for dog products. In the human world, we think of a “conditioner” as something that is all about the hair. But for dogs, it’s also a great skin treatment. Even dogs with very short coats can benefit from it.
Aloe Vera for Dental Care
You may not be aware that Aloe Vera also has many uses in Dental Care.
Aloe vera is effective in treating cavities as it inhibits the growth of the bacteria that causes dental caries. This plant accelerates healing and reduces pain associated with canker sores, which are blisters on the lips or mouth.
In addition to aloe vera's ability to reduce inflammation, it also kills certain bacteria, including those that live in the mouth. "Aloe vera may help you in treating cavities because it inhibits the growth of bacteria called Streptococcus mutans, which are mostly responsible for tooth decay," says Henry Hackney, DDS.
One 2009 study found that aloe vera toothpaste was as effective as two commercially popular toothpastes at controlling several oral bacteria, including S. mutans. However, no research so far has looked directly at whether aloe vera can reduce dental cavities. Still, that doesn't mean aloe vera doesn't have something to offer your mouth. "Antibacterial properties of this plant, as well as the multiplicity of antioxidants in it, can help prevent us from developing gum disease, bad breath, or various inflammations," says Hackney.
One of the main oral benefits of aloe vera is on gum health. "Using aloe vera as a home remedy can reduce gum recession by restoring the texture of gum tissue," says Zachary Linhart, DDS. This is backed up by several studies that showed that aloe vera can reduce inflammation of the gums, one of the signs of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. In some cases aloe vera worked as well as chlorhexidine, a prescription mouthwash that kills bacteria in the mouth.
These studies even showed that aloe vera can effectively reduce plaque on the teeth; again, sometimes as well as chlorhexidine. Aloe vera also had few side effects compared to this prescription mouthwash, which can cause a change in taste or staining of the teeth. However, sometimes professional help is needed to maintain optimum gum health. "While aloe vera is a great at-home remedy," says Linhart, "anyone experiencing swollen gums should see a dentist for an exam." The same advice applies to our pets - if the gums look inflamed, red, or swollen, it's time to see the vet.
We use Aloe Vera in our TrueBlue Fast and Fresh Dental Wipes. These wipes are easier to use than a toothbrush, but provide the benefits of brushing. The all-natural cleansing solution on the pads includes baking soda, peppermint, parsley, and aloe vera.