Can dogs eat honey?
One of nature’s most powerful remedies is honey. For centuries, honey has been used for various ailments in humans. And it can be used for dogs, with some precautions. Honey is jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can be added to homemade dog cookie recipes. It also possesses antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to help control a variety of skin problems. Raw honey also has anti-fungal and antiviral properties. But honey is high in sugar and calories, thus moderation is the key. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and concerns associated with dogs eating honey.
Important Reasons to Feed Your Dog Honey
There are many benefits that dogs can get from honey, not to mention that it’s tasty, too. Here are important reasons why honey is excellent for dogs.
Honey Can Help Relieve Skin Allergy Symptoms
Research studies have demonstrated the benefits of honey in relieving symptoms associated with environmental allergies. It is thought that traces of flower pollen in honey can stimulate the dog’s immune system to create antibodies. During allergy season when the pollen and other environmental allergens are abundant, these antibodies prevent the dog’s allergic reaction to airborne pollen. If your dog is prone to environmental or seasonal allergies, it might be a good idea to use local honey because it contains local pollen that your dog can be exposed to.
Giving honey to dogs to address environmental allergies is based on the principle that the presence of small quantities of local pollen can stimulate the body’s immune system to develop antibodies over time. Honey that’s collected from hives that are outside your area won’t help with your dog’s allergies, because the pollen it contains tends to differ from the local pollen that your dog is hypersensitive to.
Quercetin, a type of flavonoid is also present in honey. It contains antihistamines that can help alleviate itching and watery eyes.
Honey Helps Soothe and Heal Skin Problems and Infections
Honey can help soothe eczema, insect bites, surface skin wounds, and hotspots in dogs. It can also promote healing and repair.
Results of a pilot study on the effect of medical-grade honey (MGH) in the management of canine otitis externa or inflammation of the external ear showed that MGH was effective against drug-resistant pathogens, both in clinical and laboratory settings. The results demonstrate the potential of MGH as an alternative treatment for infections of the external canine ear.
Dr. Maureen McMichael, an emergency and critical care veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, uses honey for wound treatment in her patients. The major contribution of honey to wound healing is its antimicrobial properties.
There are several ways by which honey combats pathogens:
- Honey has a high osmolarity brought about by its high sugar content. Bacteria die when the water inside them gets drawn out by the sugar in honey.
- Honey has a low pH which is harmful to bacteria as they are unable to thrive and function well in an acidic environment.
- Honey synthesizes hydrogen peroxide which disrupts the bacteria’s chemical structure.
- When honey is applied to a superficial wound, it prevents bacteria from having access to the wound.
- Honey also speeds the healing and repair of tissues. According to Dr. McMichael, “honey can attract macrophages, a type of white blood cell important for normal healing of tissue”. Macrophages engulf and remove any dead tissue and pathogens in the injured tissue.
Honey May Help Relieve Kennel Cough Symptoms
Honey can help soothe irritated throats and coughing bouts. It possesses excellent antibacterial properties. Some dog owners use honey as a home remedy for dogs experiencing bouts of the hacking cough that is a prominent symptom of kennel cough. It helps relieve throat pain and discomfort and promotes the healing of infected dogs.
Natural Dressing for Minor Wounds and Burns
In humans, Manuka honey is approved by the FDA for use on burn patients. But any type of honey can help keep the wound clean and moist, which is important in promoting healing. The natural antibacterial properties of honey also help reduce the possibility of infection. The medical and therapeutic properties of honey are related to its physicochemical properties and the nature of its components.
A study that used natural Urmia honey on experimental burn wounds in dogs showed that wounds treated with honey healed faster and the tissues had better healing and repair. Also, the total bacterial count was lower in the treatment group. These results demonstrate the potential of honey to be a low-cost burn treatment that is easily available.
Please note: All wounds should be examined by your vet before applying any medication or topical treatment like honey. Careful treatment and follow-up care must be taken to achieve a successful outcome with wound healing.
Honey May Reduce Gastrointestinal Upset
A dose of honey may help soothe the gastrointestinal tract of dogs suffering from minor bouts of an upset stomach. It can help address indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation in dogs.
Honey’s natural antibacterial properties can also help kill bacteria behind minor stomach ulcers in dogs.
Honey is a type of sugar, which means it has energy-boosting properties. Studies have shown that honey can help older dogs regain some of their former energetic self. Honey is also given to canine athletes to boost their energy, vitality, and endurance during practice and competitions.
Help with Weight Management
How does honey help manage your pet’s weight when it’s high in sugar? Studies have demonstrated that honey can help slow down hunger pangs. While it’s a simple sugar, honey breaks down differently compared to table sugar. Digestion and metabolism of honey require less insulin, and it’s absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream.
Precautions to Follow When Giving Honey to Your Dog
When used for medicinal purposes, raw honey is best, as it has not been through any form of processing. Also, raw honey hasn’t been pasteurized, meaning it has not been filtered or heated. All these methods can reduce the medicinal properties of honey.
Raw honey should not be fed to dogs with compromised immune systems. This is also true with puppies whose immune systems are still developing.
How much honey can I give my dog?
Since honey is not part of the normal diet of dogs, it is highly recommended that you talk to your vet about how much your pet should have. Moderation should always be observed, particularly in smaller breeds. Honey is a high-calorie treat which means it’s a source of extra calories for your pet.
Honey is also rich in sugar. Too much or too frequent intake could increase your dog’s risk of tooth decay.
If your dog is obese, has diabetes, or has other health issues, you should consult your vet about whether it is safe to give honey to your dog.
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