Can Dogs Have Honey? Yes! And Here’s How to Safely Serve It

By: Katie KoschalkUpdated:

can dogs have honey
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Can Dogs Have Honey? Yes! And Here’s How to Safely Serve It

Whether it’s a soothing spoonful in tea or a sweet drizzle over your morning toast, honey is a natural sweetener used by millions of people daily. As you savor its sugary goodness, you might wonder, “Can dogs have honey, too?”

Honey is non-toxic to dogs and safe in small quantities. However, because of its high sugar levels, overindulgence could contribute to health complications such as dental issues, obesity and diabetes.

We spoke to a vet expert to get the scoop (or perhaps spoonful) on honey and hounds, discussing its benefits, potential risks and guidelines for safely offering this golden nectar to your pup.

Expert input provided by Dr. Danielle Rutherford, VMD, veterinarian at Westside Veterinary Center in New York, New York.

What Kind of Honey Is Safe for Dogs?

When considering giving honey to your dog, it’s important to be aware of the different types and their unique benefits and risks.

Let’s look at the two most common types of honey:

Raw Honey

This type of honey is unpasteurized, making the journey from hive to jar in its most natural state. Raw honey is typically considered the best option for most dogs, as it retains all the beneficial nutrients and medicinal properties.

However, raw honey should not be given to puppies or to dogs with a compromised immune system, as it can contain bacteria that their developing or weakened immune system may be unable to handle.

Pasteurized Honey

The pasteurization process—which exposes the honey to high temperatures—improves the honey’s appearance, increases its shelf life, kills yeast cells that can affect the taste, and eliminates any potentially harmful bacteria.

However, this heat treatment is believed to substantially diminish or entirely eradicate the honey’s beneficial compounds. As a result, this option offers your dog little more than sugar.

Pasteurized honey is still OK to use in small amounts, such as in homemade dog treat recipes for a little added sweetness.

How Much Honey Can I Give My Dog?

As a general rule of thumb, dog treats and human foods should make up no more than 10 percent of your dog’s daily calories. The other 90 percent should come from well-balanced dog food.

A teaspoon of honey contains about 20 calories and 6 grams of sugar. The amount of honey that’s safe for your dog will vary based on their size.

Here are general recommendations for healthy dogs:

  • Very small dogs (2-20 pounds): 1/4 teaspoon or less daily
  • Small dogs (21-30 pounds): 1/2 teaspoon or less daily
  • Medium dogs (31-50 pounds): 1 teaspoon or less daily
  • Large dogs (51-90 pounds): 1 1/2 teaspoons or less daily
  • Very large dogs (91+ pounds): 2 teaspoons or less daily

5 Ways To Feed Your Dog Honey

If you’ve consulted with your veterinarian and decided that honey would be a beneficial and enjoyable addition to your dog’s diet, you might be wondering about the best ways to serve it.

Here are some creative and simple ways to give your dog a taste of this sweet treat:

1Give Them a Direct Spoonful

Want to keep it simple? Measure the appropriate amount of raw honey in a spoon and let your dog lick it off. This method is especially useful for dogs experiencing a mild cough.

2Drizzle It Over Their Food

Add a little culinary excitement to your dog’s regular meal by drizzling a small amount of raw honey over their dog food. This is an excellent way to provide the nutritional benefits of honey while enhancing the flavor of their regular diet.

3Make Frozen Honey Cubes

For a refreshing summer treat, make frozen honey ice cubes, which can be a cooling, hydrating and tasty treat.

Simply mix 1 tablespoon of honey with 1 cup of water and freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray.

To minimize the risk of choking and dental damage, avoid giving your dog the honey ice cubes whole. Instead, crush them up into smaller pieces to serve.

4Make Homemade Dog Treats With Honey

Show love for your pup by whipping up some homemade dog treats that incorporate honey as one of the ingredients.

For example, these protein-packed PB&J No-Bake Treats are a great option. Plus, they’re appropriate for dogs and humans alike, so you can enjoy them along with your furry, four-legged friend!

5Offer Store-Bought Dog Treats With Honey 

For convenience, consider purchasing store-bought dog treats that contain honey as an ingredient. Some buzz-worthy options to try include:

Project Hive Pet Company Chews Large Hard Chew Dog Treats
$11.99

Temporarily out of stock

Charlee Bear Bearnola Bites Peanut Butter & Honey Flavor Dog Treats
$8.89

Health Benefits of Honey for Dogs

While honey should not be considered a dietary staple for dogs, it does offer some intriguing health benefits when given in appropriate amounts. Here are some of the positive effects your dog could experience:

Nutritional Boost

Raw, unpasteurized honey is rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, vitamin C and several minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, manganese and zinc.

When incorporated into a balanced diet, these nutrients can support a strong immune system and contribute to your dog’s overall well-being.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Raw honey possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe internal and external inflammation. This may contribute to your dog’s overall wellness and potentially aid in soothing minor injuries or joint pain.

Cough Support

The antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects of honey make it a good home remedy for mild cases of kennel cough. The honey may help soothe your dog’s sore throat, kill harmful bacteria and reduce coughing.

For acute cough support, you can give your pooch a little more honey than usual—1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon daily, depending on their size. Mix the honey with a little warm water and encourage them to drink the mixture.

Note: This remedy should only be used after checking in with your veterinarian.

Wound Care

Apart from adding honey to your dog’s diet, a specific type of honey called Manuka honey could serve as a valuable addition to your wound-care arsenal. This unique variety is renowned for its heightened concentrations of antibacterial properties and specialized compounds, making it exceptionally well-suited for healing cuts, scratches, bites, hot spots, pressure sores and burns. (It’s also antifungal!)

For minor wounds, gently clean the area first. Then, apply a small amount of honey over the wound. Cover the wound with a light bandage to prevent your dog from licking the honey off.

Note: This home remedy should only be used for minor wounds. If your dog is seriously injured, immediately take them to your veterinarian or a pet emergency clinic.

Risks of Honey for Dogs

While honey has a variety of potential health benefits for dogs, it’s important to be aware of the associated risks. Here are some things to consider:

Risk of Dental Issues

Honey is primarily composed of natural sugar. Over time, if a dog eats too much sugar it can negatively affect their teeth, causing tooth decay.

If your dog already has dental issues, do not feed them honey.

Risk of Diabetes

Due to honey’s high sugar content, excessive consumption could impact your dog’s blood sugar levels, potentially contributing to the onset of diabetes.

Diabetic dogs should not consume honey of any kind.

Risk of Botulism

Raw honey can contain botulism spores—a type of bacteria that can cause a rare but serious illness called botulism, which attacks your dog’s nervous system.

Botulism spores are generally harmless to adult dogs who have a robust immune system but could pose a risk to puppies and immunocompromised dogs.

Caloric Density

Honey is calorically dense and can contribute to weight gain if given in large amounts.

Pet parents should not feed honey of any kind to sedentary or obese dogs.

Allergic Reaction

Though rare, some dogs may have an allergic reaction to the pollen or other natural substances found in honey.

Signs of an allergic reaction can include itching, swelling, difficulty breathing or gastrointestinal issues.

Always start with a small amount and closely monitor your dog for any adverse reactions.

If you notice symptoms of an allergic reaction, consult your veterinarian immediately.

FAQs About Honey and Dogs

Dr. Rutherford answers more commonly asked questions about dogs and honey.

Q:

How much honey can I give my dog for a cough?

A:If your dog has a mild cough, you can give them ¼ to 2 teaspoons of honey, depending on their size. Always consult with your veterinarian for a tailored treatment plan, especially if the cough persists.

Q:

Is there xylitol in honey?

A:Honey does not naturally contain xylitol; however, some honey-flavored products may contain xylitol. You should never give your dog anything that contains xylitol, as it’s extremely toxic to canines.

Q:

Does honey help a dog’s upset stomach?

A:Some people claim that honey may help with a dog’s upset stomach, but there isn’t any concrete research to back this up. The thought is that honey might act as a mild digestive aid thanks to its natural enzymes. If your dog has persistent gastrointestinal issues, contact your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.

Q:

Can honey help my dog’s seasonal allergies?

A:One of the most common claims about honey is that it can alleviate seasonal allergies in dogs. The theory is that local honey, which contains local flower pollen, can help desensitize the dog’s immune system to the allergens in their environment, potentially reducing the production of antibodies associated with allergic reactions. However, scientific evidence to back this up is limited. Regardless, it’s safe to try for adult dogs, as long as you follow the portion guidelines above.

Q:

What happens if I give my dog too much honey?

A:Due to its high sugar content, excessive consumption of honey can contribute to various health conditions in dogs, including obesity, dental problems and diabetes. Always adhere to moderation and contact your veterinarian if your dog accidentally eats a large amount of honey.
Honey is one of many human foods that can support your dog’s health and happiness when used wisely. For more tasty ideas, peruse our list of 23 human foods dogs can eat. As always, consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog new foods, especially human foods.

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By: Katie KoschalkUpdated:

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