Local Honey for Dogs: Is It Safe?


Is Honey Safe for Dogs?

For thousands of years, honey has been used in a variety of ways - from treating sickness to exfoliating the body to naturally sweetening our food. You might be wondering if you can give honey to your dog -- either your dog is suffering from seasonal allergies or just licked a healthy glob up off the floor! Not to worry, the answer is YES! Honey for dogs is totally safe in small amounts. Most dogs will even enjoy it as a treat!

Benefits of Honey for Your Dog

honeybees on honeycomb

Seasonal Allergies

In small quantities, honey can be good for dogs. If your dog has seasonal allergies, feeding them a small amount of local raw honey every day can help them. The keyword here is: local. For the maximum effect, the honey needs to be locally sourced, because it contains small amounts of pollen that desensitize dogs (and people) to pollen allergens in their environment. 

Health Problems

Honey for dogs can also be helpful with sore throats, although this should be a supplement to veterinary care. Small amounts of honey can also help a dog recover from kennel cough - but always first check with your vet. For pups with digestive issues, small amounts of honey can also help with a dog's upset stomach. If they eat too much grass or don’t digest food the best way, honey can really come in handy. Again, seek veterinary treatment and consultation if your pup’s upset belly persists. 

Energy Boost

Just like other simple carbohydrates, the sugars in honey can be broken down and produce a burst of energy for your dog. This is especially helpful for athletic dogs before exercise or competitive dogs before training. Some owners even claim that honey gives older dogs more energy, without making them overly hyper.

Healing of Burns and Scrapes

Honey is one of those natural, multi-purpose ingredients that seems to have dozens of uses and benefits. Another use is to help heal wounds. Honey’s antibiotic properties can speed the healing of minor burns and scrapes. Simply apply a thin layer to your pup’s affected area. Remember to also cover it with a dressing. We know how tasty honey can be

When Should Dogs Not Eat Honey?

bulldog eating out of dog bowl

Compromised Immune Systems

Honey for dogs is mostly safe; however, raw honey should not be given to puppies or to dogs with compromised immune systems. Raw honey can contain the bacteria that causes botulism and should not be given to puppies.  This is also the reason you shouldn't give honey to human babies under the age of one year old. Check with your local veterinarian to determine the best time to introduce honey into your pup’s diet. 

Overweight/Obese

Honey for dogs who are already obese/overweight is not the best idea. Being a natural form of sugar, the sweet substance is high in calories and should not be consumed in large portions. Too much honey will ultimately lead to weight gain. Always limit the quantity of honey and sweet treats. Many pet dogs are overweight or obese, and you definitely don't want yours to be one of them. 

Diabetic

Although honey can have a moderating effect on Type 2 Diabetes, the majority of cases of canine diabetes are Type 1, and honey will only cause a blood sugar spike and other problems. On the other hand, if you need to raise your dog’s blood sugar for any reason, honey is a fantastic natural option. There is also some indication that if your pet is highly allergic to bee stings, they may also be allergic to honey. If your dog has a medical condition or is overweight, check with your vet before feeding them honey.

How Should I Give My Dog Honey?

If your dog is able to eat honey and you know how much they can safely eat, now you’ll need to decide how to serve it to them. There are a few ways to give dogs honey. 

  1. The first is simply to encourage them to lick it off a spoon (your dog should probably have their own spoon for this). Most dogs will go for honey, at least after the first time. 
  2. You can even add honey to your dog's kibble or other food, mixing it in well. This can be a good tactic for picky eaters and may even make them more inclined to empty their bowl.
  3. You can use honey to make sweet cookies for your dog. For any kind of sweet treat, honey is always a better choice than sugar. Unlike sugar or artificial sweeteners, honey contains antioxidants and other nutrients that won't spike your dog's blood sugar as badly. Many artificial sweeteners can cause diarrhea if your dog consumes them in any quantity. Xylitol, which is often found in sugar free peanut butter, is particularly dangerous for dogs and can even kill them. For most dogs, honey is a better choice.
  4. Spread a thin layer of honey on their favorite treat. This could work very well for nervous pups who aren’t looking forward to a bath or nail clipping. A sweet treat is the perfect distraction!

Again, you should only give your dog small amounts of honey. Too much honey for dogs can make them gain weight and can also cause issues with their teeth. Just like people, dogs can get cavities from too much sugar. The general recommendation is no more than a teaspoon of honey a day (or the equivalent in cookies) for small breeds, large dogs may be able to handle as much as a tablespoon. If your dog starts to gain weight, cut back the honey.

Overall, honey for dogs is totally safe and can be beneficial in small amounts. It has been used by people throughout history for its natural, health benefits. With gentle use, it may help support your dog’s health, too. It makes a great alternative to sugar for sweet treats. Consider giving your dog raw local honey to help reduce seasonal allergies and relieve symptoms of kennel cough, or just to give them that bit of extra energy.

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