August 1, 2016

Can Dogs Eat Honey? Is This Sweet Safe For Your Dog?

Can dogs eat honey? There are some people who have a real sweet tooth. Some dogs like sweets as well! If you live with a pooch who likes to get his sweet on, do you slip him a treat now and again. I know this is well meaning on your part, but you have to be sure that every bit of human food you share with your dog is safe. Today's discussion is all about honey as a sweet treat.

In the interest of full disclosure: my father was a beekeeper for several years. I know something a little something about bees. When you eat raw honey from a small beekeeper it is one of the most decadent experiences you will ever have. You should run to your local farmer’s market right now to get some!

But, I digress. It is well known that honey is good for you because of its antioxidant content and slightly lower glycemic index than sugar, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for your dog. I'm going to take a closer look at all things honey and how it can affect your furry pal.

What Is Honey?

Ever heard a vegan say that honey is bee vomit? They’re right! Well, they’re mostly right. Bees consume nectar and they do regurgitate it up to make honey, but it isn’t quite like you think. You don't have to throw out all of your honey in disgust just yet.

Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology says of the honey vomit question, "I make the distinction between honey bee regurgitation and mammalian vomit based on the fact that the nectar and honey being processed by the bees never have direct contact with food being processed, or expected to be processed, 'digestively' as is the food in a mammalian stomach. Although many sources refer to the honey bee crop as the 'honey stomach,' it is not a place where consumed foods are being digested in honey bees."

So honey may be regurgitated nectar, but it isn’t precisely vomit in the way that you or I may experience after an evening of too many white wines. I have to admit, it's fun to talk about vomit so many times in an article. I never expected I'd have such an opportunity!

Honey's Health Benefits for Humans

Honey really is liquid gold. It has a variety of uses beyond just getting eaten. It has many healthy nutrients and effects on the body. I’m strictly talking about honey and humans, though. Human health factors do not necessarily apply to dog health.

For instance, honey is a natural antibiotic and is also surprisingly effective at wound healing. I’ve healed some nasty scrapes and infections with honey myself, but hospitals also use honey in some applications. Honey can soothe coughs. Honey improves the condition of the skin and scalp. Honey may even prevent low white blood cell counts.​

In addition, honey's nutritional benefits include its high carb content of 17 grams per tablespoon which is great fuel for working muscles. Honey also contains Vitamin B6, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. Although, these nutrients are often found in trace amounts. So that being said, you’d have to eat a lot of honey to see any real health benefit from it.

​Honey is still a great replacement for sugar in most applications when you or another human is eating it. The subject of honey is more complicated for dogs. I'm getting around to your question of can dogs eat honey, we just have a little more to go.

Your Dog's Health, Honey and Bee Products

​Honey is something a dog could potentially eat on its own if it lived in the wild. I’ll give you a few minutes to think about your cute little dog trying to make it on it's on in the wilderness of no refrigerators and fluffy beds. Other carnivorous and omnivorous animals do eat honey, such as lions.

Although some sources suggest feeding bee pollen to dogs, there is a potential for allergic reaction. I would advise against taking the risk. That being said, Juliette de Bairacli Levy, who practices a Natural Rearing philosophy has advised washing dogs in honey. The humectant properties of honey and its antibacterial nature promote healthy skin and ward off nasty bacteria. I wish you luck keeping Queenie from licking herself dry if you try this.​

Can Dogs Eat Honey?

Can dogs eat honey? The short answer to this question is yes. The informed answer to this question is, yes, but sparingly. As I’ve said previously, sugar isn’t great for dogs and honey is essentially sugar. If you feed your dog too much sugar he could have stomach issues that cause you lots of time and trouble. Obviously, that would also make your dog feel bad. Our intention when feeding a treat is not to make our dog feel worse.

Also, you have allergy issues to consider. Do you really want to put your dog at risk of an allergic reaction? If you are willing to take that risk, talk with your vet first and be sure to closely monitor your dog for any signs of distress.

Let me give you a refresher about allergic reactions in dogs, which can include the following symptoms:

  • A dog that's itching its skin.
  • A dog that’s experiencing stomach upset.
  • A dog who is performing the butt rub on the floor trick.
  • Your dog is licking its feet a lot.
  • You dog has inflammation flares in its eyes, ears, nose, or throat.
  • Skin rashes that appear red and bumpy.
  • Facial swelling that can have acute and rapid onset.

The Final Word

If you do want to feed honey to your dog, you shouldn't do this every day. You should never give more than a teaspoon full of honey to your dog at a time. Also, my advice is for you to never feed this more than once or twice a week, max. If you find research that suggests honey is safe in larger amounts, be sure to discuss this with your vet before feeding this treat to your dog on a regular basis.

Once you have secured the go-ahead from your vet, you can test out how your dog tolerates honey by feeding a small amount and watching the dog closely. You should wait a few days and then try a little more honey. If you slowly make your way up to a teaspoon over the course of a few weeks and see no reaction, your dog is probably safe to eat honey now and then.

It's ok if you don't want to risk this. Your vet can recommend plenty of healthy dog treats. I have also covered many things here in this blog that you can or cannot feed to your canine friend. The answers are out there, and they just might be in the form of a raspberry or a slice of apple.

Do you have friends with dogs? I'd love it if you shared this article with them over social media so we can all be informed about safe doggie feeding. I'd also love to connect with you on Twitter. You can follow the page at @lovablepawclaws. Once we are connected, you can send me your comments about this article. I look forward to hearing from you.

Lauren

Lauren is a young woman with a true passion for animals. She has kept many pets over the years and has intimate knowledge of their needs both emotionally and physically. She loves that her dogs keep her so active and satisfy her desire to spend lots of time in nature.

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