A reader is concerned that a detangling shampoo he bought from a large pet-supply company lists aloe vera as one of its ingredients. Aloe Vera, he notes, is listed as toxic by the ASCPA. Is aloe dangerous or not? Dr. Joe Musielak, an emergency-care vet at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish who answered Tuesday's question...

aloepic11new.jpgA reader is concerned that a detangling shampoo he bought from a large pet-supply company lists aloe vera as one of its ingredients. Aloe Vera, he notes, is listed as toxic by the ASCPA. Is aloe dangerous or not? Dr. Joe Musielak, an emergency-care vet at Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital in Snohomish who answered Tuesday’s question about toxic products, tackles the question.

Question: Is aloe toxic? For all animals?

Answer: Most of the research has been in dogs and cats that have ingested aloe. If you break an aloe leaf open you notice two things: the center clear/greenish goo (this is what the gel is made from) and around the very edge a white sap (this is the latex the plant produces). The gel is not toxic, but the latex can cause problems.

Question: How dangerous a toxin is it? (Or how much would my dog or cat have to ingest for it to be a problem?)

Answer: 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.

Question: Some people always keep an aloe plant around to apply to kitchen burns or other wounds. Is the plant more toxic than topical applications?

Answer: Most topical products have had the toxic principal removed during processing.

Question: What if I apply aloe vera to my dog’s hot spot or a wound and the dog licks it. Is the dog in danger?

Answer: If you are just applying the gel portion of the leaf it should not be a problem.

Question: What are the symptoms of aloe toxicity?