The Healing Properties of this Food have been Known for Centuries, and it's Great for your Dog Too! By Dr. Deborah Shores

Photo by: abdulhussain
Raw honey, or unpasteurized or untreated, is a wonderful alternative medicine known for its healing properties and other qualities. Honey has been used as a medicine as well as a food for thousands of years in Chinese and Roman medicine for its help with ingestion, diarrhea, colds, and allergies. It also is used topically to treat wounds, cuts, scratches, and skin issues. 

As a food, honey is an excellent source of flavonoids and may have anti-cancer properties. Raw honey contains vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid, vitamins C, D, and E, as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and copper. It is also a source of antioxidants and enzymes. 

Many dogs love the taste of raw honey and will eat it without complaint. For a large dog, you can mix a teaspoon into your dog’s food or give it directly every day. For dosing in a small dog, contact a holistic veterinarian for guidance, as raw honey can contain traces of botulism toxin. This toxin can cause problems if given to very small animals and human infants under 1 year of age. If you’re worried about the amount of sugar found in honey, rest assured — honey is an inverse sugar and contains mainly glucose and fructose. These sugars, when given in small amounts, should not cause unwanted weight gain.

Why honey?

If your dog suffers from allergies, raw honey can help alleviate symptoms. Many dogs that suffer from seasonal allergies benefit from taking raw honey. It takes about 6 weeks to notice a difference, but some can significantly decrease their dependence on allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroids. This is a huge benefit to their long-term health and comfort. 

How does it work? 
Well, raw honey contains trace amounts of pollen in it and if your dog has pollen in his/her system, it causes your dog’s body to acclimatize and build immunity to the pollen, which can stop the body from reacting to the allergen.(1)  Honey will only help with your dog’s allergies if it is localunfiltered, and raw.  Do not use the honey in the little squeeze bear from your grocery store.  Seek out a local beekeeper or check out your local farmer’s market.  Find out exactly where the honey is sourced and how far away the hives are from your house. The closer, the better! 

If your dog suffers from occasional “tummy troubles,” the live enzymes in raw honey are beneficial in helping the digestion system, as well as killing harmful bacteria. Raw honey also contains amylase, a type of enzyme that assists with the digestion of carbohydrates.

Raw honey also has helpful topical properties due to the high levels of live enzymes. It can be used for burns, infections, inflammation, pain, and swelling while supporting the growth of new skin cells. Honey seals wounds, protecting the body and allowing the body time to heal. Glucose oxidase, an enzyme found in honey, produces hydrogen peroxide which helps to kill dangerous bacteria.(2) You can apply honey directly to your dog’s skin without bandaging, however using an Elizabethan collar may be necessary to avoid him/her from licking it. If you can distract your dog for twenty minutes or so, this allows enough time for the honey to become absorbed by the skin.  If your pet is being treated for a wound or “hot spot” – ask your veterinarian about using honey to speed the healing process, as honey is not appropriate for all types of incisions or wounds.  There are even special “medical grade” honeys that are used for specific purposes, such as treating especially wounds that seep fluid or pus and burns.(3) 

The benefits of raw honey, either ingested or by topical application, are endless and can help to combat a multitude of issues. Support your local beekeepers and our food chain by using this all-natural super food, and stir some into your morning coffee for good measure. 

Resources
(1)   Strober, W. et al., 1998. Oral Tolerance. Journal of Clinical Immunology. Vol 18, 1-30(30).
(2)   Beebe, S. 2011. Use of Honey for Wound Management. Western Veterinary Conference Proceedings. Veterinary Information Network.
(3)   Medihoney™ Dressing. DermaScience. Australia, New Zealand, EU, USA, Canada. www.dermasciences.com 

ABOUT DEBORAH SHORES, DVM

Dr. Deborah Shores is a graduate of the Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine. She has many years of experience working in animal hospitals and clinics from Virginia to South Carolina, treating mainly dogs and cats. She has a special interest in nutrition and holistic veterinary medicine and plans to pursue an acupuncture certificate at the Chi Institute in Florida. She has two cats and recently lost her 8 year-old Australian Shepard to liver cancer. 

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