Are You Wondering If You Can Give Your Dog Honey, Or Maybe Use It On A Lickimat Or In A Kong? See The Benefits And Risks Of Honey For Your Dog
Is honey safe for dogs? Like many things in life, the answer is ‘Yes, in moderation‘. What’s more, honey offers our four-legged friends that same health benefits as it offers us. There are some things to consider though, and honey isn’t safe for all dogs. Let’s take a look…
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You might have seen different pots of honey for sale and wondered why they are different colours: some are thick and set, others are still liquid.
The colour and taste of honey depends on the types of plants that bees visit when they collect the nectar, which they then use to make honey.
Over time, honey naturally crystallises, turning from a runny liquid into ‘set’ honey, a more solid state that you have to spoon out of the pot. Whilst set honey is easier to spread on toast, runny honey is easier to add to dog treats. Honey becomes liquid again at 35 degrees C (95 deg F), so warming set honey gently will turn it back into runny honey.
THE BENEFITS OF HONEY FOR DOGS
Whilst honey has almost no fibre, fat or protein, it does still offer us and our fur kids certain health benefits, principally in its antioxidants and its antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
Honey can help heal cuts, burns and other skin conditions such as eczema, hot spots and insect bites, when used topically. Manuka honey, in particular, is used to heal cuts and burns, and is even used in some hospitals in dressings. For serious wounds or burns, you will of course take your dog to the vet first: you could discuss with your vet whether you can use honey in conjunction with any other treatment your dog will receive. Of course, if you put honey on your dog’s skin, he’s likely to lick it off! Cover it with a dressing for a while if necessary.
It’s also a good source of energy, and may be helpful if you have a dog with a poor appetite, or who needs to gain a little weight. It can help with digestion, as it contains prebiotics and probiotics.
Is it safe to give dogs honey for kennel cough? Absolutely! Studies on humans have found that honey works even better for a cough than some common cough medicines. If your dog has kennel cough, dissolving a teaspoon of honey in some warm water 2 to 3 times a day makes a soothing drink to help treat the cough.
Of course, if you have a miniature sized dog, you will want to reduce that to half a teaspoon, as you don’t want to give a small dog too many extra calories.
HONEY FOR DOGS: WARNINGS
For us humans, honey represents a healthier alternative to using refined sugar. Refined sugar adds a lot of calories but no nutritional value, whereas honey at least offers certain health benefits.
Most people know though, that sugar is particularly bad for dogs, and can lead to problems such as tummy trouble, obesity, diabetes, inflammation and dental issues.
OBESITY: Too much food, especially fattening and sweet food, will add the pounds on your pooch.
If your dog gets hold of an entire pot of honey and polishes it off, that’s a lot of calories. You might expect to see your dog being sick, or having diarrhoea, as a result.
DIABETES: Can dogs have honey if they suffer from diabetes? No, it is not recommended for dogs with diabetes to eat honey, since it is so high in calories.
INFLAMMATION: Sugar is an inflammatory food. Whilst healthy inflammation is needed for bodies to fight infection and repair themselves, chronic inflammation is responsible for many serious health problems in dogs, from arthritis, dermatitis, and pancreatitis, to allergies and diabetes.
TOOTH DECAY: We all know that sugar is bad for our teeth, and the same is true for our dogs’ teeth. And honey is high in sugar. One way to address potential tooth decay is to look after your dog’s teeth – there are ways to clean your dog’s teeth without having to brush them.
AGE: Can dogs of all ages eat honey? You might have noticed a warning on jars of honey, stating that it shouldn’t be given to infants under one year old. This is because of a bacteria that can produce toxins in a baby’s intestines. Since a baby’s immune system is not yet developed enough to defend themselves, honey should be avoided. For the same reason, it is not advised to give honey to puppies. Adult dogs, however, are not affected.
For details of other food that is bad for dogs, see this article.
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WHAT KIND OF HONEY CAN DOGS HAVE?
Some years ago I used to keep bees. Once we harvested the honey, we put some of it straight into jars, along with any bits of pollen, propolis or beeswax that were in it. This is what’s known as ‘raw honey‘.
The ‘bits’ will float to the top of the honey, and these bits contain extra goodness, don’t throw them away! Not everyone likes bits in their honey though, so we used to filter part of the harvest to remove any bits before putting it into jars. This is still 100% pure honey.
However, since beeswax, pollen and propolis are not harmful to you or your dog, if you see pure, raw, unfiltered honey for sale, it’s perfectly fine to share that with your dog.
When buying honey, look for 100% pure, unheated honey. It might not say ‘raw’ on the pot, which is fine, so long as it’s 100% pure. We did not heat, pasteurise, or add anything to our honey. Pasteurising honey affects its beneficial properties.
Avoid honey that has anything else in the list of ingredients. There’s a lot of honey that has been ‘watered down’ with sucrose or fruit syrups. These are largely added sugar and not good for your dog.
So, any 100% pure, unheated honey is great. It doesn’t matter whether the honey is already set or is still liquid.
RAW, PURE HONEY
Apart from being delicious, honey also offers health benefits including:
- Antibacterial properties
- Great for assisting burn and wound healing
Raw honey also comes with extra goodness – all the bits of propolis, pollen and wax.
HOW MUCH HONEY CAN I GIVE MY DOG?
Bear in mind that honey is a sugar. There are 21 calories in a teaspoon of honey. For a large dog, like my dobermann, adding a teaspoon of honey to her food is not going to be a problem. However, you would want to give a little dog a smaller amount.
HOW TO GIVE YOUR DOG HONEY
You can easily give your dog honey by adding it to her dinner, smearing a bit on a treat, or piece of fruit, or by adding it to other ingredients for a Kong filling, or a lickimat, for instance.
You could also use it as an ingredient in dog treats. Bear in mind that if you cook it, it will lose some of its beneficial properties.
DOG TREAT RECIPES WITH HONEY
Here are a couple of links to dog treat recipes with honey in them.
In moderation, honey is safe for dogs and offers some excellent health benefits. It is not suitable for all dogs though.
As always, this article is not intended to replace medical advice, but rather, to help you make informed decisions to improve your dog’s health and wellbeing. Please, always seek your vet’s opinion, especially in the case of your dog being ill.