A spoonful of honey won’t do any harm to an adult dog. However, honey comes with a fair share of both benefits and risks that will be discussed below. As a natural sweetener, honey poses little to no harm to dogs and humans. However, too much of everything is bad! Let’s start with the benefits.
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- How much honey can you feed your dog?
- What kinds of honey can dogs have?
- How to serve
The nutritional profile of honey is well documented in studies. Honey is made up of sugars, water, minerals, and vitamins (including B vitamins). Honey contains amino acids, proteins, antibiotic-rich inhibine, phenol antioxidants as well as micronutrients. The nutritional composition of honey suggests it is both beneficial and safe for consumption for both humans and dogs.
How Is Honey Beneficial To Dogs?
Sugars: The monosaccharides (glucose and fructose), disaccharides (such as sucrose), and trisaccharides are excellent sources of energy from dogs.
Enzymes: Honey also contains natural enzymes like glucose oxidase, invertase, and diastase, which enhance the digestion of dog food (especially sugars). Enzymes are critical for accelerating critical chemical reactions in the body.
Minerals: Honey is packed with minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, manganese, sodium, magnesium, potassium, and copper, which play critical functions. For instance, minerals aid in nerve function, muscle function, formation of bones and cartilage, hormone production and balance, fluid balance regulation, and transportation of oxygen.
Vitamins: Vitamins like B complex, Vitamin K, E, D, and C. B vitamins regulate carbohydrate metabolism, aid enzyme function, help with energy metabolism, protein synthesis, nervous system function, immune responses, and much more.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants present in honey-like flavonoids and phenolic acids are bound to detoxify your dog and offer benefits like improved immune system health.
What Conditions Can Honey Help Treat In Dogs?
Given the nutritional profile of honey and benefits of those nutrients, there are several canine conditions that honey can treat. They include but aren’t limited to:
1. Allergies: Allergies are common in dogs but frustrating to treat. Besides prescription diets, medication, and environmental modifications, some holistic vets are known to add honey to seasonal allergy treatment protocols. The effectiveness of honey as an allergy treatment stems from the pollen. Bees collect pollen from many native flowers with the capability to desensitize a dog’s immune system from environmental allergens.
2. Digestive problems: Dogs are susceptible to digestive problems that can be solved or eased by moderate consumption of honey. These digestive problems include, but aren't limited to colitis, gastritis, bacterial overgrowth, and irritable bowel disease. The anti-bacteria and anti-inflammatory properties of honey aid many traditional treatments.
3. Wounds: The natural sugar in honey has an osmotic effect on wounds (draws water from damaged tissues), reducing swelling and encouraging the flow of lymph to aid healing. Honey also has an anti-bacterial effect. As a result, honey can heal your dog's wounds helping regrowth of healthy skin and hair.
4. Kennel cough: Honey is a popular kennel cough remedy. The anti-bacterial properties of raw honey are known to combat throat infections and kill cough inducing pathogens. Half to one tablespoon of honey mixed with some warm water in your dog's water bowl can help treat kennel cough. Honey is a popular remedy for treating cough in humans (when mixed with warm lemon water).
5. Lack of energy: Your dog's energy levels can also be boosted by some honey, given the high quantities of sugars in honey.
6. Joint problems: Dogs with joint problems can also benefit from honey. The anti-inflammatory benefits of honey can treat stiff joints in both pets and humans.
Important: Clearly, honey has a lot to offer your canine friend. However, it shouldn't be mistaken as a substitute for appropriate vet treatment. What's more, honey may contain not-so-good ingredients depending on the harvesting and processing methods used. It's also worth noting the need for conclusive scientific studies to validate some proposed benefits of honey to dogs.
If you are wondering if honey is safe for dogs, here are the risks and whatever else you need to know:
1. Obesity Risks
Dogs can take small amounts of honey without any risks. However, large quantities of honey can attract obesity risks. Any food that is packed with sugar can result in weight gain in both pets and humans if the food isn't eaten in moderation. The sweetness of honey comes at a risk. Dogs (particularly those breeds susceptible to obesity) are likely to experience weight gain from consuming large quantities of honey. Highly active dogs have less risk of obesity for obvious reasons.
2. Tooth Decay Risks
Honey can also increase tooth decay risks in dogs. It is, therefore, crucial to maintaining good dental hygiene standards for your dog if you feed them honey often. Feeding your dog honey in the long-term without proper dental care can result in tooth decay, among other related problems like poor feeding resulting in avoidable health problems like malnutrition.
3. Immune System Risks
While honey has antioxidants that are known to boost immune system health, honey can also contain botulism spores which counter the effects of antioxidants. The spores can cause botulism in dogs, a neuromuscular disorder.
4. Honey Risks In Diabetic Dogs
Diabetic dogs shouldn't be given honey as it can increase blood sugar levels drastically, resulting in complications.
5. Honey Risks In Puppies
Honey is also unsafe for puppies (dogs less than a year old). You shouldn’t give your puppy honey because puppies don’t have fully developed gastrointestinal systems and are highly likely to become sick because of bacterial spores present in most honey. Dogs with compromised immunity should also be denied honey because of the same reason.
6. Pet allergy risks
Your dog can develop an allergy or already be allergic to bee stings. If that's the case, avoid honey. What's more, hypersensitive pets shouldn't be given honey, as it may result in adverse reactions.
7. Contamination Risks
It’s only advisable to give your dog 100% raw honey free of contaminants. As mentioned above, additives and contaminants can be introduced into honey during the processing stage. Contaminants like heavy metals (although in tiny quantities) can be introduced into honey through inimical practices or human error. The quality of honey you choose to give your dog can't, therefore, be overlooked.
Half to one teaspoon of honey daily is more than enough for your dog. However, honey should be an occasional sweet treat that is given a few times weekly as opposed to daily. Other factors to be considered include the size of your dog, obesity risks, pre-existing conditions, etc. If your dog is obese, diabetic, or too young (less than a year old), don't give them any honey.
In general small to medium-sized dogs (under 20 pounds up to 60 pounds) should take at most one teaspoon of honey daily. Large dogs (weighing 60 pounds or more) can take two teaspoons.
Manuka honey comes highly recommended for dogs. The honey is raw and native to New Zealand. It is known to have all the benefits discussed above and more when consumed by dogs.
There are many ways to feed honey to your dog. You can just scoop a teaspoon of honey and let your dog enjoy it on its own. You can also add honey to your dog’s meal or make special dog treats using honey.
Tasty Honey Recipe For Your Dog: Honey-flavored Cake
You'll need an egg, some peanut butter and oil (quarter cup each), 1/3 cup of honey, whole wheat flour, and a teaspoon of baking soda.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius
Step 2: Mix your egg, oil, peanut butter, and honey together in a bowl
Step 3: Add the baking soda to the mixture and mix well
Step 4: Grease your pan
Step 5: Spread your cake mix on the pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until your cake has a golden-brown color.
Step 6: Let your cake cool before serving.
Important: You should feed your dog a small piece of cake a few times a week as a substitute dog treat. The same recipe can make honey cookies for your dog.
Dogs can have honey, however, the dog in question must be healthy and older than a year. Puppies and dogs with pre-existing conditions like diabetes shouldn't be fed honey. The same applies to dogs with bee sting allergies. Honey may contain ingredients that may be harmful to puppies and dogs with poor health or existing bee sting allergies. The high sugar content in honey also puts dogs susceptible to weight problems at risk.
The importance of moderation can’t be overemphasized. Dogs can over-eat honey. Humans also tend to have the same problem. Being intentional about the quantity of honey you feed your dog is crucial. The quality of the honey also matters. Dogs should be fed raw honey, which is pure, unpasteurized, unheated, organic, and grown locally i.e., Manuka honey for reasons discussed above.
The information on this page is not a substitute for veterinary help. Please contact a vet for help with any concerns that you have.