Honey is one of nature’s sweetest superfoods. It’s been used by humans for thousands of years as a sweetener, and is still used for this purpose today. If your dog sees you enjoying honey on your breakfast toast, and is giving you those giant, hopeful puppy eyes, you might wonder to yourself – can dogs eat honey? Is it safe for me to give my dog some honey toast? Or is honey toxic to dogs? We take a look at the benefits and risks of your dog having honey.
The benefits of honey are well known to us. It’s packed with vitamins and minerals, and in its raw form (when it’s most potent), it can also have powerful antifungal and antibacterial properties. These are all health benefits that dogs can enjoy too – with a few cautions.
Can dogs eat honey safely?
Honey is safe for your dog in small quantities. Due to the high sugar levels, it can cause obesity and dental problems for your dog if you feed them too much honey on a regular basis. For this reason, honey shouldn’t be fed to diabetic or overweight dogs.
Raw honey can contain botulism spores, so it’s never recommended to give puppies, senior dogs, or immune-compromised dogs raw honey, in case they get sick.
Along with regular honey, it’s also safe to give your dog other popular bee products, such as:
- Bee pollen
- Royal jelly
Let’s take a look at the many health benefits of feeding honey to your dog.
Is honey good for dogs?
Honey is a popular health supplement for both people and their dogs, due to its ability to soothe sore throats and coughs, improve topical fungal symptoms, and reduce inflammation.
The honey with the most benefits for dogs is the unpasteurized, raw variety which hasn’t been heated or processed in any way. Many store-bought honey brands have added sugar and high fructose corn syrup that makes it even sweeter, and this honey has lost a lot of its nutrients during the heating process.
Benefits of honey for dogs
Honey contains an impressive amount of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants, including:
- B group vitamins – for supporting energy levels, brain function, and metabolism
- Vitamin D – for bone health
- Vitamin E – for immunity
- Vitamin C – for immune support
- Antioxidants – to fight free radicals and cell damage
- Copper, Magnesium, and Manganese – for blood and cell health
Antifungal and antibacterial – enzymes in honey have been found to reduce inflammation and ease sore throats. Raw honey can also promote wound healing and ease hot spots and itchy skin on dogs.
Anti-inflammatory – if your dog suffers from joint pain, honey can help reduce inflammation and ease soreness in the joints.
Allergy relief – honey can help stimulate your dog’s immunity and build antibodies that guard against seasonal and environmental allergy symptoms.
Can puppies have honey?
You should avoid giving young puppies under one year of age any raw honey. As pups don’t have a fully developed immune or digestive system, they’re at risk of getting sick from any Clostridium botulinum spores that might be lurking in the raw honey.
Is raw honey good for dogs?
Finding the right kinds of honey is important so that your dog is getting health benefits from it, instead of just getting a sweet sugar hit.
Make sure any honey you buy mentions the words “pure” “raw” or “unfiltered” on the label to ensure the honey has no additives and hasn’t been heat treated or pasteurized.
Raw honey will be darker in color, and will crystallize if you put it in the fridge. If your honey is pale and creamy in color, and doesn’t change state in the fridge, it won’t have the essential goodness that your dog needs.
If you’re wondering which type of raw honey is best – manuka, dandelion, heather, jarrah, meadow, and tupelo honey are all high in nutrients and antioxidants.
Can dogs eat manuka honey?
Being from New Zealand, I’m a huge fan of Manuka honey. It contains antibacterial elements that are four times higher than any other type of honey (and it’s delicious!).
Manuka honey is excellent for winter colds and coughs, as it’s soothing and helps ease itchy throats. If your dog has a bit of a cough, Manuka honey can help them too – just give them a 1/4 of a teaspoon to lick up. Manuka honey is expensive compared to other honeys, but it’s worth it for the health properties.
In addition to honey – it’s also safe for your dog to eat other forms of natural bee products. Bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis, and beeswax can all help your dog live a healthier life.
Propolis for dogs
Bees collect resins along with flower pollens when they’re out foraging. They take these resins back to the hive to form propolis, which helps build the honeycomb.
Propolis has been used as a natural antibiotic for hundreds of years, and can be either eaten or used externally to treat wounds and soothe itchy skin.
Bee pollen for dogs
When bees collect pollen from flowers, they take it back to feed their hive. It’s a complete food source for the growing bee colony. In addition, it contains a compound called quercetin which is rich in natural antihistamines. It’s believed that bee pollen is effective in relieving seasonal and environmental allergies – but your mileage may vary!
It’s recommended that you give your dog a few granules of bee pollen if they’ve never had it before, to check there aren’t any side effects for your dog. If they have no reaction to the pollen, you can safely feed them up to 1/4 a teaspoon per 10 pounds of weight.
Royal jelly for dogs
Royal jelly is what the bees feed their growing bee babies in the hive. It’s also used to turn worker bees into queens – hence the “royal” part of the name.
This bee byproduct is typically used as a mood and energy booster, and it can have the same effect for your dog.
Beeswax for dogs
Beeswax is safe for dogs, and is mostly used as a balm to soothe cracked, dry paws and snouts.
You can buy beeswax and melt it down, adding dog-safe oils such as calendula – and use this to treat your dog, or you can buy readymade salves from any good pet store.
Popular products with honey for dogs
Honey supplements for dogs
Honey remedies for dogs
How much honey can I give my dog?
Always consult your veterinarian before adding honey or other bee products to your dog’s diet. They’ll be able to advise you on how much to feed your dog, and how often they can eat honey.
Honey contains around 17 grams of sugar and 70 calories per teaspoon, so you need to be careful how much you give them, especially if they’re a smaller breed.
Recommended serving sizes of honey for dogs:
The following are guidelines according to the weight of your dog:
- Small dogs up to 10 pounds: ¼ teaspoon of honey per day
- Medium dogs 10 to 20 pounds: ½ teaspoon of honey per day
- Large dogs 20 to 50 pounds: 1 teaspoon of honey per day
- Dogs over 50 pounds: 2 teaspoons of honey per day
As with all new foods you give your dog, start them off gradually to get used to the texture and taste, and to make sure your dog can tolerate honey without any upset stomachs or other ill effects.
Is honey bad for dogs in any way?
If your dog eats too much honey, it can cause a spike in their sugar levels which can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. This makes honey especially risky for diabetic dogs, or dogs with pancreatic problems.
You should be careful giving honey to your dog if:
- They’re allergic to bee stings – as they may have a reaction to honey products as well
- They’re a young puppy – as it could make them sick from potential spores in the honey, or cause them to have stomach upsets
- They’re diabetic – as the sugar in honey can lead to dangerous blood sugar levels
- They’re obese – as honey is high in calories and sugar
- They have low immunity caused by lupus, cancer, or auto-immune issues
- They have existing dental issues – these can be exacerbated by the high sugar content in the honey
How to safely feed your dog honey
It’s easiest to give your dog a small amount of raw honey on a teaspoon and let them lick it off!
You can also smear some honey on your dog’s favorite treats, chew toys, or a piece of fresh fruit or vegetable for some extra flavor.
Honey can be added to smoothies, purees, home baked treats, or used as a topper on your dog’s usual dinner for some variety and added nutrients.
In summary – can dogs eat honey?
People have used and enjoyed honey for centuries as both a sweetener and a salve. Can dogs eat honey and get the same benefits as we do? You bet!
Your dog can get the same health benefits from the vitamins, antioxidants, and antimicrobial elements in honey as we do. Add it to their meals, or give it to them as an occasional treat for an energy boost.
While raw honey has few risks for most dogs, it can have adverse effects for young puppies and diabetic or immune-compromised pets. If you’re unsure whether you should give your dog honey, consult with your vet first before offering your dog this tasty treat.