Can dogs drink aloe vera juice? The popular health drink has been getting rave reviews from health enthusiasts and holistic nutritionists for its naturally present antioxidants, as well as benefits ranging from digestive to oral, and even skin health. But can dog owners share this nutritious drink with their dogs? Find out as we discuss aloe vera and how it could affect dogs’ health.
So Can Dogs Drink Aloe Vera Juice?
The answer to this question is it depends. Because aloe vera juice has grown in popularity so much over the years, hundreds of brands make “aloe vera juice”, but not all of them are truly healthy or safe for dogs. The good news is, that there are juice brands that are made specifically for pets, which are non-toxic and contain no additives.
Many of these so-called health drinks for humans are full of sugar and artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives to make them more palatable and appealing. Anything full of sugar and artificial additives is never good for dogs.
If you wish to give your dog some aloe juice, we recommend consulting your vet first, especially if your goal is to help improve health issues that your dog may have.
What is Aloe Vera Juice?
Aloe vera juice is a semi-translucent liquid made from the flesh of the aloe plant or Aloe barbadensis’ leaf. This succulent plant species from the genus Aloe grows in tropical climates and has been used for medicinal purposes in various cultures for hundreds of years.
The juice or sap comes from the leafy part of the aloe plant, while aloe vera gel comes from the inner parts of the plant. The juice is typically used taken orally for its medicinal properties, while the gel is commonly used in topical applications.
According to aloe vera products manufacturer AloeCure, unlike aloe gel, the juice or extract is specially processed and filtered to remove natural compounds that could be digestive irritants. They recommend the use of food-grade aloe juice made from the inner leaf gel instead of whole leaf juice for oral applications.
This is due to the aloe plant’s aloin, also known as barbaloin, which is a compound that gives aloe vera its bitter taste and laxative properties. Aloe juice that is processed for consumption should be decolorized or contain less than 1 part per million of aloin.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera
Numerous vets, holistic or homeopathic vet specialists, and nutritionists agree that aloe vera has multiple health benefits to offer our furry friends. Preliminary research in human nutrition also indicates that aloe vera juice has skin, oral, and digestive benefits.
The claims that drinking aloe vera juice can help improve certain conditions such as high blood sugar, however, is a topic for debate among veterinary professionals. More long-term research is needed to confirm such claims for both humans’ and dogs’ health.
That said, many agree that the following advantages make aloe vera juice a great supplement for dogs.
Aloe vera juice has compounds that can help improve digestion. It has anthraquinone glycosides which can have a laxative effect. It can help aid digestion and especially in dogs suffering from constipation. The juice is also said to support a balanced stomach acid and healthy microbiome in the digestive tract. Good bacteria help protect our dogs’ gut lining.
A 2021 study (PubMed ID 34204534) has shown that the oral treatment of processed aloe gel daily for 10 days improved the age-related leaky gut condition in old mice. The study concludes that taking processed aloe gel as a supplement has the potential to benefit high-risk leaky gut patients.
Some studies have shown that aloe extracts have the potential to enhance digestive enzyme activities. Some experts believe that further studies are needed to confirm such claims. That being said, you can often find aloe as one of the main ingredients in digestive health supplements that are said to include digestive enzymes.
Antibacterial/ Antiviral Properties
A polysaccharide found in the inner gel of the aloe vera plant is acemannan. This compound has potential immunostimulant, antiviral, antineoplastic, and gastrointestinal properties.
This compound found in the plant can help relieve allergies, skin infections, and other diseases that suppress the immune system.
Acemannan is also currently being used in the treatment and clinical management of fibrosarcoma in dogs and cats. According to the published molecular biotherapy study “Efficacy of acemannan in treatment of canine and feline spontaneous neoplasms”(PubMed ID 1768373), intraperitoneal and intralesional administration of acemannan has been shown to increase tumor necrosis and prolonged host survival.
Dental/ Oral Benefits
The antibacterial/ antimicrobial properties of aloe vera juice can help improve oral health conditions, such as inflammation in the mouth or gums. In humans, studies have found that taking aloe internally for three months reduced inflammation and pain in the mouth in patients suffering from oral submucous fibrosis.
If your dog is suffering from dental or oral health problems, ask your vet if supplementing with aloe vera juice can help support the treatment. Consulting your vet first will ensure that the plant’s juice or any other supplements will not cause drug interactions with any medication your dog may be taking.
Rich in Antioxidants, Vitamins, and Minerals
The anti-inflammatory properties of the plant can be attributed to polyphenols, a group of antioxidant-rich plant compounds. Antioxidants boost the immune system to protect the body from damage or oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Aloe is naturally high in amino acids, calcium, phosphorous, folate, iron, magnesium, selenium, beta carotene, chromium, potassium, and zinc. It is also rich in vitamins A, C, and E. These nutrients support various aspects of a dog’s health.
You’ll find that some aloe vera juices can also be applied externally. The plant’s gel and juice help soothe and cool down inflammation from a dog’s skin irritations, allergies, minor burns, flea or bug bites, minor cuts, abrasions, hot spots, and other skin conditions when applied topically.
The healing properties of aloe vera are said to also help speed up the process of cell renewal in surgical scars. According to an experimental study, aloe vera helps decrease the scar tissue size and increased the alignment and organization of the regenerated scar tissue.
Aloe vera gel contains plant hormones auxin and gibberellin. These two hormones promote the growth of new cells. Not only does it allow the skin cells to form naturally, but applying aloe vera gel or juice also aids in hydrating and soothing to support skin wellness. This helps minimize dry skin and scarring.
Aloe Vera Juice Dog Benefits in a Flash
Dr. Judith M. Shoemaker, DVM of Always Helpful Veterinary Services in Nottingham, PA says that giving your dog aloe vera juice that is additive-free in the right dosage can help in the treatment and prevention of the following conditions:
- Digestive irritation
- Irritable bowel
- Intestinal worms, fungi
- Respiratory problems
- Joint mobility/arthritis
- High cholesterol
- Kidney, bladder, and urinary tract
- Low energy
- Poor appetite
- Tartar control
- Dull skin and coat
Potential Risks from Ingesting Aloe Vera or Aloe Vera Juice
Eating Aloe Vera Leaves (Can My Dog Eat Aloe Vera Leaves?)
A dog owner may ask, “My dog eats leaves sometimes, can my dog eat fresh aloe leaves?” The answer is no. When you cut open an aloe vera leaf, you will find a clear, greenish gel in the middle. In between the outer part of the green leaf and the gel is a white or yellow layer which is the aloe latex that the aloe plant produces. This aloe latex is toxic to dogs. The gel is non-toxic.
According to Dr. Joe Musielak, an emergency-care vet at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish, WA, “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. Severe diarrhea can be life-threatening because it can eventually cause dehydration.”
This is why it is important that you buy aloe vera for dogs or an aloe juice product that is labeled safe for animal consumption. These dog aloe vera products are made from the inner leaf gel only. They are distilled and processed to ensure that it is safe to be consumed.
Whole leaf aloe juice or gels are not safe for dogs. Fresh aloe vera juice may be safe for dogs as long as it is made only from the inner leaf gel.
The aloe vera leaf as well as its contents are quite bitter, which could deter your dog from eating more than a few bites. However, if you suspect that your dog chewed on an aloe vera plant, seek veterinary advice right away as it could make your dog sick.
What if My Dog Licked Aloe Vera Juice or Gel That Was Applied Topically?
Dr. Musielak states that most topical products have had the toxic principal removed during processing. However, if you cut open a fresh leaf, and apply the gel to your dog’s skin directly from the leaf, an allergic reaction could be triggered if your dog has a latex allergy.
Applying the gel directly from the leaf also puts the dog at risk of licking the aloe latex which is toxic to them. It can cause that diarrhea which could lead to severe symptoms like excessive electrolyte loss.
To avoid having to worry about dogs licking topical treatments that have been applied to their hot spots, wounds, etc., apply ones that are specifically made for pets. Gels, ointments, and creams made for dogs are non-toxic as dogs do tend to lick their wounds, flaky skin, or itchy skin.
Aloe juice products that are safe for pet consumption can also be used topically to soothe minor burns, skin irritation, and inflamed skin.
Too Much Sugar, Artificial Additives In Aloe Vera Juice Drinks
While some aloe products may be safe or even beneficial to dogs’ health, not all aloe products are created equal. There are hundreds of grocery store aloe vera juice drinks made for humans that are pumped with a lot of sugar, artificial flavors, and colors to make them more palatable to humans.
Too much sugar is just not good for dogs. While a few slurps of sweetened or flavored aloe vera juice may not harm your dog, regularly giving them anything high in sugar can lead to multiple health problems. It can cause dental/ oral health issues, weight gain, stomach upset, and diabetes.
How Much Aloe Vera Juice Should I Give to My Dog?
The recommended dosage will depend on the specific aloe vera juice that you have. It is usually added to the dog food as a booster.
Some brands of aloe vera for dogs recommend 1 teaspoon of juice product per 10 pounds of body weight daily, or about a tablespoon per 10 pounds of body weight if you are looking to treat certain illnesses and the dog is already used to taking the product as a supplement.
It is best to give a small amount when introducing aloe vera juice for the first try. Gradually increase the amount to the recommended dosage over a two-week period. Observe for any stomach upsets or any other adverse reactions. Stop giving your dog aloe vera juice and consult a vet if he or she reacts negatively to the supplement.
The use of aloe vera juice as a health supplement or booster for dogs is recommended by many hard-working holistic vets, naturopaths, and other veterinary science experts. Due to aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral, and immuno-stimulant properties, studies have shown that multiple functions of a dog’s body can greatly benefit from both internal and external applications of its juice.
While multiple studies have been conducted on the use of the plant for various medicinal purposes, some experts say that more studies are still needed to confirm its efficacy in treating certain illnesses or health conditions.
We think that certain natural/ herbal remedies or supplements are worth trying if you are looking to keep your dog healthy and happy. Allergies to aloe gel or juice from the inner aloe leaf gel are quite rare. However, we still recommend consulting your vet before giving aloe vera juice or any other natural remedy as these are not meant to replace veterinary advice or treatment.
Consulting your vet is also a must if you have pregnant or lactating dogs, as well as young puppies. Fresh aloe could be especially dangerous to pregnant dogs as the latex could promote muscle contractions.
As far as external or topical applications are concerned, there is no harm in trying a small amount of aloe in juice or gel form in the affected area. The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera can help soothe and speed up the healing of the affected area. Like with any medication, stop the use of aloe vera juice or gel if you observe any adverse reactions.
Another recommendation is the use of aloe vera for dogs or products that are made specifically labeled as safe for the consumption of animals. This helps give you the peace of mind that what you are giving your pet is generally safe for him or her.
Dog-friendly aloe vera products are processed and created to be without the toxins and other compounds that could be dangerous for them when ingested. Even if the product is made for dogs, it is still important to practice the safe and gradual introduction of new foods and supplements to your dog’s diet to avoid an upset stomach or allergic reactions.