When we think of honey, certain things come to mind- springtime, honeybees, and flowers blooming. Normally we don’t see honey for much other than delicious sweetness to our tastebuds. But honey is so much more than just heaven to a bear. Honey is actually very medicinal. Upon multiple uses, it helps treat wounds on animals externally as well as internally.
Honey has been used medicinally for centuries. Honey is known for it’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. There are two main types of honey used today; processed, filtered honey and raw, unpasteurized honey. Filtered honey is typically the kind sold in most commercial grocery stores. This kind of honey undergoes a heating and filtering process. Raw, unpasteurized honey is fresh from the honey comb which means the bee’s pollen and propolis are intact.
Processed honey that has been pasteurized is great for treating any kind of burn, scrape, cut or sore. It is a highly effective burn treatment because it heals the skin and protects it from oxygen exposure. It also eliminates the need for frequent bandage changes and prevents healing skin from adhering to gauze or fabric. Honey is hydroscopic, absorbing moisture from it’s surroundings so it wont dry out. It also has a very acidic pH which prevents bacteria from growing. Manuka honey is a type of honey that is made by honeybees that pollinate the manuka tree found in New Zealand. Manuka honey has been known as one of the best, if not the best type of medicinal honey. What makes Manuka honey more valuable than others is the antibacterial component Methylgyoxal (MG). This compound is found in almost all types of honey. Manuka honey however contains higher concentrations of MG because of the amount found in the nectar of Manuka flowers. So the higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect is. When using Manuka honey as a wound treatment, look for the label “ UMF Manuka Honey” or “Active Manuka Honey”.
Raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey can also be used in animals for many different natural treatments. Raw honey is an antiseptic food that has not undergone any processing. It contains natural enzymes and antioxidants. It also contains a multitude of vitamins including Vitamins A, B-Complex, C, D, E, and K. Also found in raw honey is calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, silicon, sulfur, potassium, manganese, copper, and iodine. Dogs with environmental and/or seasonal allergies can greatly benefit from raw honey, preferably local raw honey. Local raw honey contains minute amounts of local pollen which will help the dogs immune system build up a tolerance to the pollen. So when plants or trees are in bloom, the dog won’t be affected by the pollen.
Another impressive way raw honey is used in animals is by effectively treating and preventing infections. Animals with repetitive skin and ear infections can benefit tremendously from raw honey. Because of it’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, it is great for chronic skin and ear infections. It is also very beneficial in treating nausea and diarrhea. Raw honey aids in digestion because of the live enzymes it contains. It can be mixed with water when fasting an animal with gastrointestinal distress.
If your animal has never ingested honey, raw or filtered, it is best to start with a small amount around 1/4 tablespoon, then working up to as much as 2 tablespoons daily for larger dogs. Cats can benefit from honey just as well as dogs can, however the dosage is smaller and they may need to be watched for any allergic reactions. As beneficial as honey is for most adult animals, it is not highly recommended to give internally to puppies or kittens. It can be given to diabetic dogs, but is advised only under supervision from a holistic veterinarian.
Honey is an amazing food. Not only does it taste delicious, but who knew it had so many medicinal properties that can help out our four-legged friends. So if you are looking for an alternative treatment for your cat’s battle wound, or for your dog’s seasonal allergies, honey is nature’s greatest antibiotic.