Since ancient times, sap from the aloe vera plant has served in wound treatment and sunburn relief. Over-the-counter sprays and gels made with aloe vera are generally safe, but it's best to use a product designed specifically for canines if your pet receives a sunburn or minor cut or scrape. Whether or not you can use an aloe vera gel designed for humans on your dog depends on what other ingredients are in the product.
Canine Aloe Vera Gel
Rather than use aloe vera gel designed for use on people, ask your veterinarian to recommend an aloe vera product specifically for use on canines. Aloe vera gel products designed for canines won't sting when applied, nor will they stain your dog's hair or your clothing. A gel product more than others stays where sprayed or topically applied rather than dripping all over your pet or the floor. While aloe vera gel formulated for animal use is also safe for horses and livestock, don't use it on cats.
Ingesting Aloe Vera Gel
Even if the aloe vera spray gel you use won't harm his skin or coat, ingesting it may be another story. There's a good chance he'll lick it off if you put it on an area his tongue can reach; then you might have to deal with vomiting or other gastrointestinal upsets. Aloe has long been used as a laxative, so you could have a mess in your house. You may have to use an Elizabethan collar.
Aloe Vera Wound Treatment
If your dog experiences a small cut or scrape, cleanse the area thoroughly with antibacterial soap and spray some aloe vera gel designed for veterinary use on your pet. Wound treatment products include aloe vera for its soothing properties. Aloe vera also increases the blood supply to promote quick healing. Of course, any significant wound requires veterinary attention.
Although most dogs are covered in hair, it is possible for them to suffer sunburn. That's especially true of short-haired dogs with light-colored coats. Even a dog with a heavier coat can experience sun damage in areas with less hair, such as the face or ears. You might not notice the initial signs of sunburn on your pet, since he won't blister with a first-degree burn. By the time you realize his skin is injured, the sunburn could be severe. Don't try to treat it yourself with over-the-counter products. Serious sunburn requires urgent veterinary care. Take your dog to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Aloe Vera for Itching
If your dog suffers from constant scratching, you must get to the root cause. It's possible he has a flea or food allergy, mange or some other dermatological condition. While you should take him to the veterinarian for a diagnosis, aloe vera gel can ease his symptoms in the short term. Use either an aloe vera product designed for dogs or one containing 100 percent aloe vera gel with no other ingredients.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.