Is honey safe for dogs? What are the benefits, and can it help treat seasonal allergies?

a honey bee on a flower

Honey is a delicious and natural sweetener that is widely consumed by humans for its many health benefits. It’s easy to overlook its medicinal benefits with the substance containing many nutrients as well as having antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties in its raw form. All of these provide many health benefits your dog can enjoy, too!

Is honey safe for dogs?

Yes, honey is generally safe for dogs to eat. In fact, many dog owners use honey as a natural remedy for various ailments, such as coughs, digestive issues, and allergies. However, as with any new food or supplement, it is important to introduce honey gradually and in moderation to avoid an adverse reaction.

Important: Raw honey shouldn’t be given to puppies under one year of age, as their immune systems may not be able to handle the potential bacteria that can be found in raw honey.

How can honey help with allergies in dogs?

Honey has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help with a variety of health issues in dogs with some professionals believing that honey can relieve some allergy symptoms in dogs. One of the most common claims is that the substance can cure, or at least ease, seasonal allergies as long as the honey contains one of the pollens your dog is allergic to.

However, the vets at Joii Pet Care said: “The evidence for ingesting honey to help with allergies is lacking. The pollen that is contained within the honey may not be the same as what the pet is allergic to. When a pet has an allergy, they are usually allergic to multiple things including pollen but also other allergens that won’t be found in honey.” Allergies in dogs can manifest in a variety of ways, including skin irritation, itching, digestive issues or even coughing and sneezing. These symptoms are often caused by the release of histamines, the chemicals that help your body rid of something that could be harmful. If your dog starts to show symptoms of an allergy, you should speak to a vet as soon possible.  

Can honey be used as an alternative to other medicines and treatments?

Even with the lack of conclusive research, since honey is unlikely to cause any harm, some vets can recommend using it as alternative treatments for other conditions. Used as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial agent, honey is often eaten to help soothe sore throats and applied topically to treat burns and promote healing.

Can honey be used to treat wounds?

Sometimes, depending on the wound, medical grade manuka honey can be used to treat minor cuts on dogs. Thanks to its antibacterial properties, honey can help prevent infection and promote healing while providing some extra protection.

Important: Not all types of honey are safe for dogs as some may contain bacteria or toxins that can do more harm than good. You should always speak to your vet first so that they can provide you with the correct advice and best course of treatment based on your dog’s injury.

Can honey be used to treat kennel cough?

Kennel cough is a fairly common, and sometimes serious, health condition in dogs which is accompanied by a dry, hacking cough. In humans, honey is known to soothe a sore throat, and the same can be said for our canine companions! However, the effects can be fairly minimal as sore throats do not always require treatment.

As with any condition, it’s important to speak to your vet first to find appropriate treatment for your dog.

How to give honey to your dog

If you decide to give your dog honey, remember to do so in moderation. Too much honey can lead to weight gain and other health issues. Around a teaspoon a day, is okay, depending on the size of your canine companion.

When introducing honey to your pooch, start with a small amount and monitor their reaction. If your dog experiences any adverse reactions, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, stop giving them honey and speak to your vet.

an infographic of amounts of honey for dogs

Remember: Not all honey is the same. Raw honey is the best option. AVOID honey that has been mixed with artificial sweeteners (especially xylitol) or other additives.

How to feed honey to your dog

Here are some creative ways to add honey to your dog’s diet.

Spread a thin layer of honey on their favourite treat

If their favourite treat is big enough to hold a smear of honey, then why not give it a go? Careful, though! This can make quite a sticky mess if your dog drops it.

Put some honey on a slice of dog-friendly fruit

If your pooch loves to munch on some apple or enjoys bits of banana, you can layer some honey on slices of these fruits and give them as a delicious treat!

Let them lick it off a spoon or spatula

If you’re not sure on what your dog’s reaction will be to trying something new and want to avoid making a mess, you could simply coat the back of a large wooden spoon or a spatula with a thin layer of honey.

Can honey be bad for some dogs?

As long as your dog is a healthy adult, they shouldn’t have an issue with honey but it is packed full of sugar, which can sometimes lead to some problems.

Dogs who react to bee stings

If you have a dog that reacts to bee stings, they can unfortunately have a similar reaction to honey. Try offering them one drop a day to help build a tolerance to it and always watch for signs of allergic reactions.

Young puppies

Since a puppy’s immune system is still developing, they shouldn’t be given raw honey as it can cause tummy upsets and gastrointestinal issues due to the spores in it.

Diabetic dogs

The high sugar content in honey can raise their blood sugar levels and cause complications in dogs with diabetes.

Overweight or obese dogs

The extra sugar in honey can cause a dog to gain weight, especially if given in big amounts. Try some healthier alternatives or give sparingly.

And that’s it! Does your dog like honey? Do you have any exciting ways of incorporating it in their diet? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter page.  

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