Your dog's safety is more important than winning the costume contest. Photography ©WilleeCole | Thinkstock.

Honey for Dogs — Can Dogs Eat It and Should They? It’s Complicated

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Can dogs eat honey? Is it safe to use honey on your dog at all? Mostly. The verdict is still out about how effective honey is for medicinal purposes, and it can be dangerous for very young dogs or dogs with compromised immune systems, but many people report success in using honey to treat everything from their dog’s seasonal allergies to his infected burns. Here’s what you should know about honey for dogs:

First, the risks associated with honey for dogs:

a jar of honey.
Can dogs have honey? Photography ©Nadianb | Thinkstock.

There are many benefits of honey for dogs, but let’s discuss the drawbacks first. Humans are at risk for food poisoning, and children under the age of one shouldn’t ever get honey as they are at risk of infant botulism, which can be serious. Similarly, the AKC says to avoid giving raw honey to dogs with compromised immune systems and puppies because of similar risks around botulism spores. As with any other medical treatment or dietary change, check with your veterinarian before adding honey to your dog’s diet.

What kinds of honey can dogs have? 

Use raw honey for medicinal purposes. Unlike the honey found in packets or in those ubiquitous honey bear bottles, raw honey is unprocessed and unpasteurized. This means that it isn’t filtered or heated, a process that kills bacteria, but also reduces the presence of some medicinal properties, such as local pollens (more on why that matters later!).

How should you use honey for dogs?  

Honey can be a sweet treat for your dogs — many homemade dog cookie recipes call for honey. It can also be used directly on the skin, or given orally to your dog in small quantities.

How much honey should you give your dog if he’s eating it?

Honey is high in calories and should only be given to your dog in very limited quantities. Since one teaspoon contains about 17 grams of sugar and 70 calories, the Honey Bee Conservancy recommends no more than one teaspoon of honey per day. Too much honey could lead to tooth decay, and be sure to consult with your vet on the right amount — especially if your dog is overweight or has diabetes.

Honey for dogs as an at-home kennel cough treatment

Some dog owners use honey as an at-home kennel cough treatment, specifically to reduce coughing, relieve throat pain and promote healing for infected dogs. Dr. Ford, a professor of medicine at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, who recently answered all our questions about kennel cough, was less convinced about the healing properties of honey for kennel cough. “‘Honey’ as needed to treat kennel cough is conjecture. I suppose one could also try chicken soup from a New York deli — that’s supposed to work in humans with ‘kennel cough,’ [too].” Dr. Ford responds.

Can honey for dogs cure your dog’s allergies?  

If your dog suffers from environmental allergies, the Honey Bee Conservancy reports that feeding him honey might improve his symptoms— similar to how honey is used to naturally treat allergies in humans.

You must feed your dog local, raw honey, which will have small amounts of your area’s pollen. The idea is that if you feed your dog this local, raw honey on a regular basis, your dog’s system may develop an immunity to local pollen triggers over time. Eventually, he might not show any allergy symptoms. Honey collected from hives outside your local area won’t help with local allergies, because the pollen will be different from the local pollen your dog is having an allergic reaction to. A local farmer’s market is a great place to find very local honey, and you may be able to talk directly with the beekeeper.

Will honey help your dog’s arthritis or mobility issues?    

Dog parents say yes. Healthy With Honey credits researchers at Copenhagen University with conducting a successful study showing that daily doses of honey and cinnamon for a week allowed previously impacted patients to move without arthritis pain.

Honey for dogs as a skin treatment:

Honey may be used topically to help reduce swelling and redness associated with skin sores, and possibly even increase healing time and reduce infection. The New York Times reports that small burns (on people) treated with small amounts of honey healed faster than similar burns covered in antibiotic ointment.

Thumbnail: Photography ©WilleeCole | Thinkstock.

Read more about human foods for dogs on Dogster.com:

8 thoughts on “Honey for Dogs — Can Dogs Eat It and Should They? It’s Complicated”

  1. Pingback: Can Dogs Eat Nuts? Find Out Which Nuts Are Safe — And Which Aren’t – yopetshop

  2. Dearldean Hall

    My six and a half pound chihuahua is 13, he has allergies, and i give him apoquel for his
    itching, and i have a skin shampoo also. He doesn’t eat as well as he used to and he gets what i call troubled tummy about once a month, where he won’t eat anything for a couple of days. He will not eat canned food, and hamburger is out of the question. He sticks his nose up at more food than i care to mention. Today i took a half tsp of peanut butter and added a couple drops of honey. He ate it, but i am waiting to see if he will start eating again. At least this gives him some calories, i won’t give him alot, but i just wanted to try it cause sometimes i get really worried about him when he doesn’t eat for a couple days. I have a vet appt next week, meantime this isn’t alot of honey, but it might perk up his appitite.

  3. Sorry but I’d highly recommend Honey for coughs in dogs! My little Italian greyhound has had a hacking cough for nearly 2 weeks. Took her to the vet twice so far and she’s been on 2 different types of medicine after vet ruled out Heart disease and Kennel cough and nothing has worked! Next step was an operation at a cost of £500 and all the risks a General anaesthetic carries with it , in our 7 yr old girl! So thought ‘No thanks’! So tried honey and after 4 days on 2ml 3 times a day, all is quiet! No hacking or retching anymore and Winnie is now catching up on her sleep !
    We brush her teeth every night anyway and as a precaution, whilst being on Honey, have brushed in the morning too!
    Regards Caroline

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