Mmm honey. Perhaps you add this sweet nectar to your afternoon tea. Maybe you spread it atop peanut butter toast as a yummy snack. But did you know another member of your household may enjoy honey as well? That’s right, your dog can not only enjoy the taste of this naturally sweet treat but reap some residual health benefits as well. However, as always, there can be “too much of a good thing”. Worry not, in this article we are going to answer all the questions you have surrounding the query “can dogs eat honey?”.
What is Honey?
You are more than likely familiar with the natural wonder that is honey. However, how much do you really know about the sweet, sticky delight? Well, honey is a product of the hardworking and industrious honeybee. Honeybees draw liquid nectar out of flowers and deposit it into their home base: the honeycomb. Once the nectar is deposited into the honeycomb, the bees flap their wings to draw the moisture out of the nectar. Eventually, once all of the water has evaporated out of the liquid, the nectar turns into the thick and sumptuous treat we know as honey.
Can Dogs Eat Honey?
Unlike its cousin in sweetness, the villainous chocolate, honey is actually safe for canine consumption. In fact, honey is often used as an ingredient in a number of dog treats. Not only do dogs love the taste, but honey also has the added bonus of natural health benefits. However, as with any new substance, you should exercise care when selecting the type of honey you choose to give your precious pup. Furthermore, practice moderation when giving your dog honey. Naturally high in sugar, too much honey is not ideal for dogs. Especially dogs suffering from predisposed diabetes.
Benefits of Honey for Dogs
Have you ever noticed how many throat lozenges have honey in the title? Honey has long been used by people to soothe a sore throat. Furthermore ancient Roman and Greek literature speak of honey as a powerful agent to healing burns and other exterior wounds. So what exactly are the benefits of honey as a medicinal agent for dogs specifically?
Honey for Allergies
Seasonal allergies are a surprisingly common issue amongst our canine compadres. Like humans, dogs can be adversely affected by pollen and/or the changing of the seasons that accompany allergy attacks. If you yourself are prone to seasonal allergies, you may have heard that eating raw local honey can help. Since honey is derived from pollen, consuming honey sourced locally can act as a natural immunity boost against unsavory allergens.
The idea is similar to a flu shot in nature. When you receive a flu shot, you are actually injected with a tiny amount of the current strain of flu that is going around. This is basically immune system boot camp against the virus in question. If and when you come in contact with the virus, your body knows how to properly fight it. The same idea applies when you or your dog ingest honey with made with local pollen.
Environmental Allergies vs. Food Allergies
A quick note on allergies, honey is a useful tool in battling environmental allergies specifically. That is to say, if your dog doesn’t agree with things such as grass, pollen, or certain plants. On the other hand, some dogs may encounter other types of allergies, namely from food. Excessive itching and red patches on the skin may indicate a food allergy. If you suspect a non-environmental allergy is affecting your dog, consult your vet about the best course of action for treatment.
Healing External Wounds
For centuries, honey has been used to heal topical wounds. Interestingly enough, raw manuka honey is actually approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat burns on human patients.
Raw natural honey acts as a natural antibacterial that promotes healing, protects the affected area and lowers the risk of infection forming and/or spreading.
How to Apply Honey to Wounds
Carefully and gently clean the wound with warm water and a clean rag. Generously spread a coat of raw honey on and around the affected area. Cover and protect the area with a light, breathable bandage.
Depending on the location of the wound, you may want to consider putting a cone or donut around your dog’s neck to protect the wound. You don’t want your dog licking the honey off and/or further hurting the affected area.
This method of wound treatment is only intended to treat minor burns, scrapes, and cuts. Deep or wide lacerations need to be examined by a veterinarian and may require stitches.
Raw Honey and Kennel Cough
Similar to how honey can help soothe a human cough or a sore throat, the appropriate administration of raw honey can help relieve a dog’s kennel cough (aka bordetella). Honey coats the throat and helps soothe any irritation in the esophagus and surrounding areas. Furthermore, as previously stated, honey is a natural antibiotic which works wonders in the healing process.
A Natural Energy Boost
Due to the naturally high sugar content of honey, many dog owners report a notable boost in energy after they give their dogs honey. Senior dogs and dogs with mobility issues benefit greatly from this natural energy source.
Treating an Upset Tummy
Dogs are naturally curious and tend to test their curiosities by way of their mouths. This often results in dogs eating things they shouldn’t like grass and dirt. Ultimately, these poor pooches will likely experience some version of upset stomach, sometimes even manifesting vomit or diarrhea.
An appropriate dosed taste of honey can help coat the stomach lining and sooth their ailing gastrointestinal tract. Better yet, the natural antibacterial quality of honey treats and prevents minor stomach ulcers.
Raw Manuka Honey
Clearly, honey has some pretty amazing benefits for our precious pooches. So, what kind of honey should I give my dog? Well, if you are trying to treat local allergies, it is essential to purchase local, raw, organic honey.
For everything else, the most powerful and effective type of honey you can get is Raw Manuka honey. This super-honey is derived from the Manuka tree. The powerful Manuka tree is native to New Zealand and certain parts of Australia. Manuka honey has the highest antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal qualities of the various types of honey.
How Much Honey Should I Give My Dog?
Due to the high natural sugar content of honey, practicing moderation is a vital component of canine honey administration. Too much honey can encourage weight gain, dental issues, or even diabetes. The appropriate daily dosage is based on weight and is as follows:
- 1/2 teaspoon – 1-10 pound dog
- 1 teaspoon – 11-30 pound dog
- 2 teaspoons – 31-50 pound dog
- 1 tablespoon – 50+ pound dog
Please dually note that dogs below fifty pounds are getting increments of the tiny teaspoon of honey. That is to say, a little honey goes a long way.
Things to Know Before Giving Your Dog Honey
As with most supplements, there are certain dogs that should stay away from honey. First and foremost: dogs with diabetes. Some experts believe honey helps increase insulin. However, others believe the high sugar content should be avoided if your dog has diabetes. Second, puppies under three months should not have honey. Considering honey is a product of nature, occasionally an unsavory spore will piggyback its way into the pollen and resulting honey. Puppies under three months of age do not have fully developed immune systems and therefore cannot battle these uninvited guests as older dogs can. Finally, dogs that are allergic to bee stings should avoid honey. While adverse reactions are rare, it is better to air on the side of caution.
Check with Your Vet
Finally, you should always check with your vet before giving your dog any new supplement or medication. While honey has an impressive track record boasting positive results over negative ones, every dog is unique. Your trusted vet, armed with your dog’s medical history, will be able to best assess whether or not honey is the right choice for your individual dog.
Can Dogs Eat Honey: The Bottom Line
Our dogs hold special places in our hearts and our families. While homeopathic remedies like honey have been around for centuries, their positive attributes are only just now becoming more apparent for our canine companions. Honey has the natural power to heal minor burns and scrapes, defend against pesky seasonal allergies, and calm upset tummies. Check with your vet today about how honey can become a vital part of your dog’s holistic health plan.