Honey is one of the planet’s best superfoods that we can now find it included even in a number of pet nutrition products from dog food to dog treats and even supplements. The many health benefits of honey for dogs are generally an offshoot of the age-old experiences of a man using this natural delicacy for a smorgasbord of purposes. It’s packed with nutrients and other compounds that have healing and health-promoting properties.
Man, Dogs, and Honey
A man has been using honey for various purposes since ancient times. For more than 9,000 years, man has been gathering honey not only for their nutrient-dense properties but also for the countless health benefits that they bring. From Spain in the Iberian Peninsula to Georgia in the Black Sea to ancient Greece to Egypt across the Mediterranean to the far reaches of China and India to the Mayas of Central America, honey has always had medicinal, religious, cultural, and anthropological significance.
Since man has been using honey for a very long time, it is not impossible that he also used this nature’s bounty to help his furry best friend. After all, the very first dogs that were domesticated – turned from members of the wild to revered members of the human family – were from 15,000 years ago at the very least.
Honey can be categorized in different ways. When classified according to its source, it can be polyfloral, monofloral, or blended. Polyfloral honey is also known as wild honey. This type of honey varies in taste and aroma as well as its medicinal properties since it depends on the prevailing blooms of the season. Monofloral honey is honey that is obtained from the nectar of a single type of flower. Then there’s honeydew honey which has a very dark color yet less sweet than nectar-based kinds of honey.
Honey can also be classified according to how it’s processed and packaged. There’s crystallized honey, pasteurized honey, strained honey, filtered honey, ultrasonicated honey, and raw honey, among others. When it comes to grading, honey can be Class A, B, or C. The best honey is a Class A. And one of the best in the world is Manuka honey which we will be talking about in the next section.
Suffice it to say, honey can come from different sources with slightly different characteristics. Regardless, it is well-regarded for the following properties.
- Antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal
- Prebiotic and probiotic
- Natural humectant
- Nutrient-dense including minerals and vitamins
Manuka Honey for Dogs
We mentioned above that Manuka honey is one of the best honey on the planet. This type of honey is sourced from bees that pollinate the Manuka bush which is native to Australia and New Zealand.
So why is Manuka honey the best?
It has something to do with the presence of methylglyoxal or MG. This antibacterial is also found in other types of honey but in smaller quantities. The MG found in Manuka honey is derived from dihydroxyacetone which is naturally present in the nectar of native manuka flowers. Dihydroxyacetone is converted into methylglyoxal to give Manuka honey its amazing antibacterial properties.
With the presence of high concentrations of methylglyoxal, it is no wonder that Manuka honey for dogs is a much sought-after formulation. The implications for your dog’s health are simply remarkable. In the next section, we will take a look at 5 of the many healing benefits of honey especially Manuka honey for dogs.
5 Healing Benefits of Honey for Dogs
There are now a growing number of pet parents who give honey to their dogs. And in case you’re wondering whether you should give your beloved hound honey, too, then you’ve got to check the five really powerful and amazing healing benefits of honey for your dog.
1. Facilitates the Faster and More Efficient Wound Healing
Continuing on with what we have been talking about, one of the most obvious benefits of honey is in wound management. The MG component of Manuka honey for dogs is ideal for fighting bacteria and other microorganisms that may be present on the dog’s wound and surrounding skin. In this manner, honey serves as both disinfectant and antibacterial.
Manuka honey can be applied directly over the wound and the surrounding area. Since honey is a bit thick or viscous, it would be best to heat it a bit too lukewarm temperature for easier application. Once cooled, honey goes back to its thick consistency to create a protective layer on top of the wound. This layer protects the wound from getting further infected, allowing the reparative cells of the dog’s body to do their job and heal the wound. Additionally, the other substances found in honey can reduce the swelling that is typical of any tissue injury and inflammation. Reducing the swelling can also lead to a reduction in pain as nerve endings are relieved of the pressure that is applied to them. Moreover, the antioxidants found in honey can help promote cellular renewal, leading to skin regeneration.
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While honey is perfect for open wounds, it can also be used on hot spots and burn injuries. Its cooling effect can help minimize the inflammation that is characteristic of such skin conditions in dogs. Of course, it’s ideal for bite wounds, scratches, accidental cuts, abrasions, and even pressure sores. The latter is often seen in debilitated dogs such as those with problems in their joints and senior hounds.
To treat minor burn injuries, the site should be disinfected with a solution made of 10 tablespoons of cool water and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. This should be applied over the burn site carefully as it can be quite painful. Once disinfected, the burn injury can be covered with a thick layer of Manuka honey for dogs. This should be reapplied every 10 minutes to help reduce the pain and swelling. It is important to cover the burn site with a light bandage. It is also important to prevent your dog from licking or biting the area as it can get infected. Do take note that this remedy is only good for closed burn injuries. If your dog has an open burn wound, it is best to have your dog checked by a vet first.
For hot spots, it is imperative that the hair is shaved or trimmed first so you’ll have a good view of the affected skin. Clean and disinfect the affected site and its surroundings with diluted povidone iodine. Lightly warm the manuka honey and apply lightly onto the hot spot. Do this two times a day.
2. Soothes Canine Tracheobronchitis or Kennel Cough
If you have a dog that lives in a rather crowded kennel, there’s a chance that it can get infected with canine infectious tracheobronchitis. This is also known as a kennel cough. It is a very contagious respiratory infection that is typically caused by canine influenza virus and canine distemper virus. Unfortunately, it is possible that secondary bacterial infections can also form.
The sad thing is that a kennel cough is not only common among dogs that live in crowded conditions. Even bringing your dog to a place where dogs congregate such as boarding kennels, veterinary clinics, canine daycare facilities, and others, it is possible that your dog can get infected because of the high degree of transmissibility of the infection.
You can always use honey for dogs cough, especially manuka honey. Its rich antibacterial properties can help prevent secondary bacterial infections while its anti-inflammatory properties can reduce swelling in the throat. If throat swelling is reduced, your dog will ‘a cough’ a lot less frequently, allowing it to breathe better, too.
To use honey for dogs a cough you can simply feed your pet half to a full teaspoon of manuka honey or any other Class A honey. You can start with once-daily administration of honey and can be increased up to 4 times daily. Just make sure that before increasing the frequency of administration, your dog is able to handle the once daily administration. You may want to increase the frequency gradually.
3. Alleviate Many Symptoms of Allergies
Allergies are quite common among dogs. From seasonal allergies to food allergies, this condition can really be annoying for your dog. It will be scratching incessantly causing its skin to turn red and irritated. Over time, it can also lead to hair loss while developing hot spots. Dogs will shake their heads furiously or even vigorously rubbing their face on pillows, blankets, carpet, and anything else. They may also have stinky ears.
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However, it is important to recognize the difference between seasonal allergies and food allergies. While honey can also be used in alleviating the symptoms of food allergies, the treatment for such a condition is the identification and removal of the offending food ingredient. Dogs with food allergies typically undergo an elimination diet to help pinpoint the food allergen. Once this has been identified, then measures can be taken so as not to trigger an allergic reaction again.
Seasonal allergies, on the other hand, can be trickier to manage since this is often associated with the allergens present in the environment that are substantially greater in certain times of the year like fall, spring, and summer. The only way you can help your dog from getting an allergic reaction is by keeping it indoors. We all know this is quite impossible since dogs need to go outside the home either to exercise or to play and do their business. The only thing you can do is to help relieve some of the symptoms of allergies. This is where honey can be helpful.
Multi floral or raw honey works best since these contain the widest array of natural plant allergens derived from various blooms. What you are doing is introducing these allergens in very small amounts so that your dog’s immune system will become acclimatized to the unique structure of these allergens without really causing the manifestations of an allergy. Over time, the dog’s body will be so accustomed already to the presence of such allergens that it will no longer fight them and produce the symptoms we associate with allergic reactions.
Giving your dog a teaspoon or a tablespoon of wild honey two times every day is always a good start. Give a teaspoon for small breeds while the tablespoon is reserved for larger dogs.
4. Aids in Digestive Issues
There are instances when our dogs suffer from diarrhoea, constipation, or even indigestion. While the automatic reaction is to give manuka honey for dogs, we should try to determine first if the issue is related to the food that we are giving our pets. This is because we are going to mix the honey in our pet’s food. If the problem is in the dog food itself, then we are only wasting a perfectly good honey.
Mix about two teaspoons of manuka honey to your dog’s food if it is a large or giant breed. If your dog is medium-sized, then give a teaspoon. For small and toy dogs give only half a teaspoon. This should be mixed into their food twice a day. If you don’t notice any improvement after 2 to 3 days, it is best to bring your dog to the vet.
5. Boosts Energy Levels
A tablespoon of honey contains 64 calories. By comparison, a similar amount of table sugar only contains 49 calories. The best thing about honey is that while it has more calories than sugar, it is also packed with enzymes, B vitamins, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamin C, and minerals. Not only are you giving your dog energy to meet its daily needs, you’re also ensuring optimum health for your pet.
Give your large dog a tablespoon of manuka honey or raw wild honey once every day. For medium-sized canines, you can give two teaspoons every day. Smaller dogs can be given a teaspoon daily.
Honey can bring a lot of health benefits to your dog. It’s rich in antioxidants, enzymes, probiotics, prebiotics, antimicrobials, minerals, vitamins, and other substances that can be instrumental in your dog’s overall health.
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- Manuka Honey, WebMD