The Many Benefits of Raw Honey for Dogs
Raw honey is one of man’s food items that dogs can also enjoy. Ancient peoples used honey for different purposes and not only as a delectable addition to their dishes. Petroglyphs or rock carvings show that man has been collecting honey from as far back as 7,000 years ago. If this is true, then it is possible that man’s earliest four-legged friends also benefitted from one of Mother Nature’s super foods. After all, man and dog have already forged a strong partnership by that time period. Fast forward several thousand years later and into the 21st century, modern canines obtain as much benefit from honey as their ancestors did. Here are some of raw honey’s many benefits for dogs.
Improves Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies
One of the more popular benefits of raw honey is the improvement of seasonal allergy symptoms. It works by desensitizing the dog’s immune system so that it will not overreact in the presence of pollen.
The thing about allergies is that the immune system tends to mount an inflammatory response to the presence of a foreign substance or allergen. In seasonal allergies, the allergens often come in the form of pollen. Of course, there are other possible allergens.
What happens is that large amounts of these allergens stimulate certain cells of the immune system. They bind to the allergen and present it to other immune system cells. From here, pro-inflammatory compounds get released to “neutralize” the allergen. Unfortunately, because the pro-inflammatory substances are widespread, they can cause both localized and generalized manifestations.
Raw honey contains very minute amounts of pollen. Giving raw honey in small amounts every day can help desensitize the cells of the dog’s immune system. In other words, they get accustomed to the presence of such “allergens” so that they no longer mount an inflammatory response. When spring and summer come, the dog will no longer have very severe manifestations of seasonal allergy.
Honey may not solve the root cause of the problem. However, raw honey can provide better relief from the symptoms of seasonal allergy. This allows the dog to enjoy life as the flowers bloom in spring.
One last thing. It is important to realize that raw honey only works on seasonal or topical allergies. If the manifestations you see in your dog – itching, hot spots, and scratching – are due to food allergies, then raw honey may not work.
Helps in the Management of Kennel Cough
Veterinarians call it infectious tracheobronchitis but ordinary pet owners like us call it kennel cough. This is one of the most common respiratory conditions in dogs which causes an inflammation in the walls of the upper airway. The most common culprit is a bacteria called Bordetella bronchiseptica. However, kennel cough can also be brought about by the canine parainfluenza virus, canine adenovirus, canine reovirus, canine herpes virus, and canine distemper virus.
Regardless of the cause, kennel cough can bring a lot of discomfort to the pet. And if you happen to keep several dogs at home in a small space, there is a chance that the disease will spread to other dogs.
Before that occurs, however, you may want to give your pet raw honey. This natural food possesses antimicrobial activity related to its ability to produce hydrogen peroxide. This enzymatic product doesn’t kill all kinds of microorganisms, however. Only those susceptible to hydrogen peroxide can it be effective against.
The good news is that there is another type of honey that shows a more potent antibacterial activity. Manuka honey can apply its antimicrobial properties without the need for the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. What it does is that its acidic nature and high osmolarity can make it difficult for microorganisms to grow.
Giving raw honey to dogs with kennel cough can help alleviate symptoms while interfering with the growth of the bacteria. Unfortunately, if the kennel cough is due to a virus, raw honey may not be that effective.
Heals Superficial Wounds
As mentioned, raw honey possesses a unique antimicrobial property that stimulates the enzymatic production of a substance called hydrogen peroxide. In case you’re wondering what it is, this is the same compound that medics and first aid responders use to disinfect superficial wounds. Health care professionals in emergency care settings also use it as an antiseptic.
The exact mechanism of hydrogen peroxide can be very complicated to explain. Suffice it to say, this compound destroys the cell walls of bacteria. It spills bacterial cell contents so that immune system cells can attack them.
As an antiseptic, raw honey can help prevent secondary infections in superficial wounds and minor burn injuries. The dog’s skin is its primary line of defense. Whenever there is a wound or a burn injury, this protective layer gets compromised. And since other microorganisms also reside on the surface of the skin, there is a chance that they will enter the deeper structures of the skin. This can lead to inflammation and a resulting secondary infection.
As such, applying raw honey on superficial wounds can help neutralize the microorganisms present in the surrounding area of the wound. This way, they will never get the chance to enter the bloodstream and other tissues. At the same time, the antibacterial properties of raw honey can kill the pathogens that may already be present in the wound itself.
Raw honey also contains antioxidants and other nutrients which can help in the faster healing of the wound. Honey provides the building blocks for tissue regeneration while also enhancing the activity of the dog’s immune system.
Take note, however, that the dog should never lick its wound as doing so can introduce more germs. Moreover, licking the affected area can remove the raw honey that you’ve applied. Hence, it is best to put an Elizabethan collar on your pet whenever it has wounds.
Reduces Canine Stomach Upset
Dogs that are experiencing minor stomach upsets can also benefit from the soothing properties of raw honey. It is not known how honey can soothe the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, however. What is important is that there are many reports that show it calms down upset stomachs in dogs.
There are many reasons why a dog may have a stomach upset. Eating something they shouldn’t is one of them. As such, it is often ideal to find out the exact cause of their gastrointestinal upset before making any attempts of treating it.
There are veterinarians who suggest that dogs with gastric ulcers can benefit from raw honey’s natural antibacterial properties. One of the major culprits for ulcers is the bacteria called Helicobacter pylori. If honey can exert its ability to produce hydrogen peroxide by enzymatic action, then it is possible to address the gastric ulcer.
Unfortunately, no one can be certain whether the symptoms you see in your dog are indeed a reflection of gastric ulcers. As such, it is still best to have a veterinarian take a closer look at the dog’s condition before attempting to give any form of treatment.
Boosts Energy in Dogs
There are pieces of anecdotal evidence that show raw honey can boost the energy levels of elderly dogs. Everyone knows that aging brings with it a lot of changes in the dog’s physiology. It may no longer be able to move as much because it is weak. Sometimes, its energy levels are also very low. It may want to resume the different activities that it once enjoyed, but it cannot do so because of low energy levels.
One can increase the amount of food intake of the dog, of course. However, the animal may be too weak to chew its food well. A better alternative is to provide it with a couple of tablespoons of raw honey to boost its energy. A tablespoon of this “Nectar of the Gods” delivers about 64 calories, 80% of which comes from glucose and fructose.
This is also the reason why pet parents of canine athletes always give raw honey to their dogs. This is to help boost energy, promote vitality, and enhance the dog’s endurance.
Contributes to the General Health of the Dog
Honey is a super food. It contains Vitamin C, folate, choline, and betaine, as well as other vitamins. It also contains calcium, iron, potassium, and fluoride. Selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, and sodium are the other minerals that may be present in raw honey.
These nutrients may come in trace amounts. However, they can still contribute to the dog’s overall wellness and general health. These molecules can aid in the optimum functioning of the various organ systems in the dog’s body. It doesn’t have fats, too, making raw honey a good choice for dogs that may be at-risk for heart diseases.
While raw honey is beneficial to man’s best friend, caution is necessary so as not to overfeed the animal. Anything in excess can also have its serious implications. As such, if you want to optimize the benefits of raw honey, make sure you only give the correct amounts for your pet.