What is True Aloe Poisoning?
True aloe, of the family Asphodelaceae, is a genus of plants native to Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa. True aloe is enjoyed by many for the ornamental appearance; the sharp and spiny leaves are adorned with red and yellow clusters. True aloe is also enjoyed for its medicinal qualities, as many people use the juice of the plant for wound treatment, sunburn treatment, cosmetics, and a purgative. The almost cactus-like appearance makes this plant striking and very easy to maintain indoors. True aloe, being indoors much of the time, may be chewed upon by curious dogs, which can lead to toxicity.
This plant contains saponins which can cause a myriad of negative side effects. There are up to 100 species which thrive in the temperate climates within the Northern Hemisphere. It has been widely crossbred between species, as it is a highly popular marketed plant.
True aloe, scientifically known as aloe vera, poisoning in dogs is the result of dogs and other small animals chewing and ingesting the true aloe plant. True aloe contains saponins which are toxic to dogs and other small animals.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of True Aloe Poisoning in Dogs
True aloe poisoning has a variety of symptoms that are equal to the symptoms of saponin toxicity. Symptoms may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Urine color changes
There are several different plants that contain saponins. It is important to know saponin-containing plants in order to remove them or keep them out of the home. Types of plants include:
- Ivy (Hedera helix)
- Butcher’s broom
Causes of True Aloe Poisoning in Dogs
True aloe toxicity is caused by curious dogs that buy into the plant. True aloe contains saponins and they cause poisoning by:
- The saponins are molecules which bond to sugar
- The dramatic lowering of blood sugar is due to the saponins
- Glycosides are metabolized with any bacteria within the intestinal tract
- True aloe contains latex which causes severe stomach irritation
Diagnosis of True Aloe Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has eaten true aloe, contact your veterinarian immediately. This includes not only the plant, but aloe vera that comes in medicinal form or in supplements. Bring a part of the plant in with you, or any other aloe vera items your dog has eaten. He will ask questions pertaining to your dog’s history of health and will ask questions about the ingestion of the plant, such as the amount consumed and the time that lapsed between eating the plant and arriving for treatment.
Once you get to the veterinarian’s office, he will assess his symptoms. He will also perform blood work, urinalysis, and a complete examination. He will check the blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, oxygen level, and any other laboratory tests he feels are necessary. He will also want to check your pet’s blood glucose level for a drop in sugar, and your companion’s electrolyte levels. He may also want to order radiographs to take a closer look at the abdomen and chest areas.
Treatment of True Aloe Poisoning in Dogs
Once your dog is diagnosed with true aloe toxicity, the veterinarian will begin treatment. Treatment methods may include:
Your medical professional may induce vomiting in order to expel any of the contents from his stomach. This will be followed up with a dosage of activated charcoal in order to prevent the toxic substance from being absorbed into your dog’s system. This will also promote excretion through the bowels. Rather than vomiting, your veterinarian may perform gastric lavage, depending on your dog’s situation. This entails inserting a tube down through the esophagus and into the stomach in order to flush out any toxic contents.
Your veterinarian may give your dog IV fluids to restore hydration and to regulate electrolytes and glucose levels. The true aloe can cause excessive bowel movements due to the purgative properties. A balance is needed between the elimination of the toxins and a restoration of regular defecation. IV fluids may be given before the diagnosis is made, during the symptomatic assessment.
Your veterinarian may also provide oxygen therapy for your dog, either through a tube or in an oxygen cage. This will help your dog have better ease of breathing and keep him stable during any treatments. Once the treatment is over, your veterinarian may continue oxygen therapy and IV fluids, as well as careful monitoring of your dog’s status.
Recovery of True Aloe Poisoning in Dogs
Once your dog is showing signs of recovery, your veterinarian may choose to send him home. He will give you a detailed description of what you need to do to further care for your companion. This may include feeding him a bland diet, either in prescription form or with foods at home, such as chicken and rice. It will also be important to provide your dog with fresh water several times a day to encourage urination.
It will be important to monitor your dog carefully and watch for new symptoms. If any new symptoms occur, contact your veterinarian. It will also be important to encourage rest and calmness as he heals.