Yes, dogs can eat honey!
Honey is a natural sweetener that contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, E, and K, plus calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, potassium, manganese, copper, and iodine. It is the best source of natural energy, a tonic for the nervous system and the heart, immediately absorbed by the blood and inhibits the development of pathogenic bacteria in the digestive. It is said to increase the absorption of calcium consumed at the same time, help treat or prevent anemia, reduce arthritis pain, and work as a gentle laxative to help prevent constipation. Some dog owners have found additional health benefits to feeding raw local honey to their dogs including improved mobility in arthritic dogs, higher energy levels, stress reduction and improved digestion.
Is All Honey the same?
Tests show that most supermarket grade “A” processed honey is diluted with cheap products such as high fructose corn syrup, has been heated and quickly cooled giving it a smoother look inside the bottle. This processed commercial version typically looks clear and smooth and may even be so thin that you can pour it. What this means is that many of the benefits are null and void. The healthy, nutritional honey that can benefit your dog comes from wild, raw, unfiltered honey. A very good reason to buy your honey locally.
The Very Best Honey
Manuka Honey, produced in New Zealand by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush, is one of the most unique and beneficial forms of honey in the world because the nutritional content is up to 4 times that of normal flower honeys. This is what is called the Unique Manuka Factor.
In addition to the hydrogen peroxide antibacterial activity contained in most honeys, some strains of Manuka honey have additional healing antibacterial properties known as UMF (Unique Manuka Factor), which is indicated by a rating on the jar; the higher the UMF rating, the more potent the honey’s antibacterial strength. The lowest recognized UMF is 10. Manuka honey is so effective in fighting infection that in 2007 the FDA approved its use for treating wounds and burns in the United States.
Honey alleviates Allergies
Holistic studies have shown dogs suffering from environmental allergies can greatly benefit from raw, local honey. One teaspoon for small dogs or one tablespoon for large dogs can help ease the symptoms of allergies by exposing your dog to a very low level of the substance causing an allergic reaction by developing immunity over time. It is important that the honey is raw and local to your area. When the body is safely exposed to those pollens on a very small level, the body can grow accustomed to the allergens and thus have little to no reaction. For more information read this article from The Whole Dog Journal.
I started feeding Kirby a teaspoon of honey daily when he was a puppy and now I try to incorporate it into his feedings at least twice a week. His eyes have very little goop and no tear stains whatsoever.
What The Experts Say
According to Pioneer Veterinarian and Author of The Complete Herbal Handbook For The Dog and Cat, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, "I believe I could not successfully rear domestic dogs without this remarkable antiseptic food… Honey is the greatest of the natural energizers, a nerve tonic and a supreme heart tonic. Predigested by its makers, the bees, it is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream of the consumer. A diet of only milk and honey can sustain life for months in humans and animals. It has been well and longtime proved that honey is also highly medicinal and will inhibit growth of harmful bacteria in the entire digestive tract and destroy those of a toxic nature." She recommends that fasting animals who are ill should let their digestive organs rest to allow the body to heal quickly. In addition to water, the only food she recommends for fasting animals is honey.
“One of my favorite stories,” states Dr. Richard Palmquist, Chief of Integrative Health Services at Centinela Animal Hospital, Inglewood California, “involved a Sharpei dog that had severe chronic ear infections. The owner had long suffered from expensive, repetitive infections of the dog’s skin and ears. His ears were so bad that the veterinarians on the case were considering surgery. Luckily, he responded in about 30 days to a teaspoon of local honey given orally each day. When the owner ran out of local honey the symptoms returned in about three weeks, so he had to take it for the rest of his life, but when he was on his honey his skin and ears were perfect.”
Vetinfo.com states, “Although most dogs do not achieve a complete cure by consuming raw honey alone, a weekly dose of honey should help reduce the clinical signs and help your pet feel a little better during allergy season.”
Using Honey in Recipes
Many recipes you already use can be adjusted for your dog by omitting or replacing ingredients that aren't dog friendly. One replacement for sugar is natural honey. Because of its high fructose content, honey has a higher sweetening power than sugar which means you can use less honey than sugar to achieve the desired sweetness.
A trick is to coat the measuring cup with non-stick cooking spray or oil before adding the honey so it will slide right out. A 12-ounce jar of honey equals 1 cup.
Check our Ingredient Index for more recipes using honey.
If a dog is allergic to bee stings then allergic reactions can occur from honey so caution is recommended. Raw honey can become contaminated with a botulism-related toxin so don’t feed to very young dogs because their immune systems are not yet developed enough to defend themselves. Adult dogs over the age of one are not affected. Talk to your veterinarian before feeding honey If your dog is diabetic since the high sugar content can increase insulin levels and be careful feeding honey to overweight dogs since it can contribute to extra weight gain.