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Can Dogs Eat Honey?

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Last Updated: March 15, 2024 | 4 min read | Leave a Comment

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This article was written by a veterinarian, but it should not serve as a substitute for a discussion with a trained professional. If your dog ate this food item and is reacting adversely, contact your local veterinarian immediately.

As a pet parent, you’ll know how important it is to feed your dog the right diet. A few extra calories and they’ll gain weight, too much fat and they might develop pancreatitis, and a dog food deficient in vitamins and minerals could cause them to become unwell.

Treading the line of giving your dog variety in their diet while keeping them healthy isn’t always easy, especially when you also have to consider whether the human food you’re offering is safe for our canine counterparts.

Although you don’t want your dog helping themselves to honey from a hive or nest and being attacked by a swarm of angry bees, honey might be quite beneficial in small amounts.

Why Do Humans Eat Honey?

Honeycomb up close.
Many people enjoy honey, sometimes on toast, as a sweetener in hot drinks, or as a cooking ingredient.

Honey is a natural sweetener, making it a slightly healthier choice than refined sugar or artificial sweeteners like Xylitol. But it’s not just the sweet taste that makes it appealing. Honey may have some efficacy as an antibacterial and antifungal, and it’s also thought to reduce inflammation and even reduce allergies. Some people with pollen allergies will consume a small amount of locally sourced honey every day to try to improve their seasonal symptoms. It can also be applied to burns and other skin wounds to help with healing.

Is Honey Safe For Dogs To Eat?

Honey isn’t toxic to dogs, so a small amount fed occasionally is unlikely to cause your furry friend any harm. But is honey likely to make your dog healthier? Or do the risks outweigh the benefits?

What Are The Potential Health Benefits Of Feeding Your Dog Honey?

Honey sounds like an amazing ingredient with its medicinal properties and a wide variety of human health benefits. However, most of these health benefits are not yet supported by reliable evidence. So, although many people swear that honey has helped them with their hay fever or helped them fight infection, these benefits are certainly not guaranteed for you, let alone your dog.

One of the exceptions to this is the use of manuka honey on wounds and burns, which has been proven to be effective. Honey is also useful to ease coughing in both humans and dogs, so if your dog has a kennel cough, speak to your veterinarian about giving honey.

Of course, honey is a healthier alternative to refined sugar, but your dog’s diet shouldn’t contain much sugar anyway. It also contains lots of antioxidants, which could help reduce inflammation. There are small amounts of vitamins and minerals in honey, but the small amounts that your dog consumes won’t provide much benefit.

In addition to feeding it to your dog, honey may also enhance your dog’s coat’s shine which is why it is a common ingredient in natural dog shampoos.

What Are The Risks Of Feeding Honey To Your Dog?

Even though honey isn’t toxic to dogs, it can still cause some problems. Perhaps the most common issue is that, even though it’s natural, honey is still sugar. Therefore, too much indulgence and your pet could pile on a few pounds. You might not think a slightly podgy pooch is the end of the world, but obesity can lead to diabetes and can put a strain on the joints, heart, and lungs.

Aside from causing weight gain, raw honey carries a small risk of botulism, especially in very young, unwell, or immunocompromised dogs. Just like sugar, honey can speed up tooth decay in our furry friends, meaning toothbrushing is extra important.

How Much Honey Can A Dog Eat?

If your dog has never tried honey before, you should start by letting them taste a tiny amount. This is because any new food can cause an upset stomach. If your dog enjoys the honey and doesn’t develop any vomiting, diarrhea, or other signs of being unwell, you can offer a little more next time. It’s best not to give more than one teaspoon of honey as one portion because it’s so high in sugar.

How Often Can A Dog Eat Honey?

Your dog doesn’t need to eat honey, but a small amount occasionally won’t harm them. If you do choose to give your dog honey regularly, you shouldn’t give it more than once or twice a week. Although it’s great to treat our canine companions to something tasty, it’s best to choose something healthier, like raw carrots or pieces of kibble, from their daily allowance. This will make sure they don’t put on weight, and the carrot could even help keep their teeth healthy.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats A Lot Of Honey?

Cavalier looking at honey stick drizzled over bread
Okay, so what if you find your dog has somehow got to the honey jar and licked it clean?

If your dog has eaten a large amount of honey as a one-off, there shouldn’t be any serious consequences. They may develop vomiting or diarrhea, and they may act a little more energetic than normal. For peace of mind, it’s best to call your vet to check. If your dog is diabetic or is on a restricted or prescription diet for other reasons, speak to your veterinarian to let them know.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If A Dog Licks Honey?

An occasional lick of honey is unlikely to harm your dog if they are otherwise well. If they have a lowered immune system or are very young, there is a small risk of botulism, so monitor their behavior closely and speak to your veterinarian if you are worried.

What Are The Benefits Of Honey For Dogs?

Honey is great for healing wounds and may help to soothe a dry cough. However, additional benefits like its antibacterial, anti-allergy, and anti-inflammatory action are not yet backed up by data.

How Much Honey Is Toxic To Dogs?

Honey is non-toxic to dogs, meaning dogs can eat a small amount safely. Even though it won’t lead to poisoning, honey does lead to other health problems like dental disease and obesity. Therefore, it’s a good idea to only give it as a treat once in a while.

Final Thoughts

Thankfully, honey isn’t toxic to dogs, so the chances of it causing harm to your dog are slim. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some risks. If your dog likes honey, you can offer it in small amounts as an occasional treat, but make sure you check with your veterinarian first.

Beagle Looking Up at Camera

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