Manuka Honey for Dogs: Everything You Need To Know

EDUCATION

13 minute read

Essential Takeaways

Manuka honey can be great for dogs!

Manuka honey has been proven to be helpful in treating dog wounds, kennel cough, and dog ear infections, but hasn’t been proven to help with dog allergies.

Honey is deemed acceptable to give to most dogs in small quantities.

Dogs that are diabetic, obese, immuno-compromised, or still puppies shouldn’t be given any type of honey.

The quantity of manuka honey that you should give your dog depends on the size of the animal.

When introducing manuka honey into your dog’s diet, you should start with a lower UMF™ grading. Make sure you buy UMF™ graded honey to ensure authenticity.

Manuka Honey can be great for dogs! We've compiled the ultimate guide for you.

We’ll take you on a journey to discover how and why you might want to (safely!) give your dog manuka honey, and what health benefits it can bring.

Seeing as vet bills can be extraordinarily high, it’s a good investment to know when and how you can treat your dog at home with a jar of manuka honey in your doggie first aid kit!

Disclaimer: We strongly encourage you to go to the vet when you need to. Some of the uses we’ll cover are about keeping your dog in good health throughout its lifetime, and treating it for minor accidents and illnesses, after getting the initial approval of your vet.

In this guide on manuka honey for dogs:

 

Let’s get stuck in!

Is Honey Good For Dogs?

“Yes, honey is good for dogs. It’s flavonoid-rich and contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Feeding honey to your dog is safe for as long as it’s given in small quantities and under the guidance of a veterinarian.” - Outward Hound

Kristin Wuellner, DVM, from Hills Pet Nutrition agrees, saying it’s safe for dogs to have a small amount of honey each day.

 

Of course, there are exceptions to this, which we’ll dive into straight away so you can understand the world of honey in the context of your dog.

Which dogs shouldn’t have honey?

It’s recommended that the following groups of dogs are not given any type of honey:

  • Diabetic dogs, because of the high sugar content.
  • Young puppies under 12 months old, because their immune systems are still developing.
  • Dogs that are allergic to bees and bee stings, because honey might irritate them.
 

If your dog is adult, healthy, not allergic, and not fussy, then they are in the clear to consume a little honey as part of their diet.

What’s The Best Honey For Dogs?

Seeing as your dog can’t tell us which one he or she finds the most tasty, we’re going to look at this from a purely scientific health perspective.

Out of all the honeys available, humans derive the most health benefits from manuka honey, largely due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

The best part is, these beneficial properties are not picky. They get to work in similar ways in both humans and dogs!

What makes manuka honey beneficial?

“[Manuka Honey] has been identified for its increased antimicrobial activity against a range of microorganisms. The increased activity is attributed to the presence of methylglyoxal, not present in other honeys…

Manuka honey still contains the other main components that give rise to honey’s antimicrobial activity; however, the presence of methylglyoxal results in increased activity. The observations of Manuka honey’s potent activity led to the development of medical-grade honey, which now has a variety of uses within a clinical setting.” - US National Library of Medicine

So it’s the antimicrobial activity in methylglyoxal (more commonly known as MGO) that makes it different to other honey.

How can it help?

“Manuka honey has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that may help treat numerous ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome, gastric ulcers, periodontal disease and upper respiratory infections…

Manuka honey is likely an effective treatment strategy that may accelerate the healing process when used in conjunction with more conventional therapies.” - Healthline

The bottom line is that:

  • MGO is fantastic and has health benefits for both humans and dogs.
  • MGO is not found in large quantities in other honey.
  • MGO is present in manuka honey.
  • Therefore, manuka honey is the best honey for dogs!

So when you’re choosing honey for your dog, UMF™ grade manuka honey is superior over other table honeys from the store.

Read more: UMF™ vs MGO vs KFactor vs BioActive vs MGS vs NPA? Who’s confused about Manuka Honey?

>> SHOP OUR RANGE OF MANUKA HONEY

Benefits Of Raw Manuka Honey For Dogs

Manuka honey can help maintain a healthy dog’s body, preparing it to fight any unexpected bacteria it happens to pick up on its adventures.

As above, the main benefits come from the antibacterial and antiviral properties of manuka honey. Here’s what it can do:

Boost immunity, protect against viruses, and look after the gut

Manuka honey can help keep your dog’s gut in good condition. With 70-80% of the immune system being in the gut, it’s important to maintain its wellness!

Keep skin healthy and fight skin disease

Similarly to the effects of manuka honey on our own skin, it can reduce inflammation, calm irritated areas, and regulate pH levels of dog skin too.

Maintain good oral health

Giving your dog a small amount a day (we’ll get to exactly how much later) can help combat “dog breath” - as long as you’re also following a regular oral hygiene routine.

These are good reasons to add manuka honey into your dog’s diet proactively.

However, manuka honey is also very effective when used reactively.

When your dog has an accident or runs into a mild illness, your vet might approve of using manuka honey to treat it.


Manuka Honey For Dog Wounds

If you’re wondering what to put on your dog’s cut, first you should evaluate how deep the cut is.

While a simple saline solution will wash out a small scrape, manuka honey is a beneficial alternative and is recommended as first choice for deeper or larger cuts.

Just like humans, dogs can heal their own wounds to a certain degree.

But as we’ve discussed in our wound care blog, the properties of manuka honey can aid in the healing process of wounds and improve the overall results.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of manuka honey on dog wounds specifically, here are a few statements from veterinary experts around the world.

What the experts say

“When applied to wounds, Manuka honey provides a moist wound environment and a protective barrier, preventing bacterial infection. It also helps remove damaged and dead cells, which – if left behind – provide a medium for bacteria to grow on, perpetuate inflammation and delay wound healing.

Manuka honey has several advantages over topical antibiotics. It acts locally on the wound, so there are no systemic side effects as there can be with antibiotics. As well, its effectiveness is not reduced by antibiotic-resistant organisms. And it is non-toxic if ingested.” - Blackmores

“A chemical in Manuka nectar called dihydroxyacetone becomes methylglyoxal (MGO) in honey. Low concentrations of MGO inhibit bacterial growth and movement and higher concentrations dehydrate bacteria. It is not inhibited by the enzyme catalase so is more effective in wounds even when inflammatory fluid or exudate is present.” - Vet Help Direct

“Traumatic, contaminated, infected and necrotic wounds are a regular occurrence in practice. Manuka honey's properties have been demonstrated to aid in the initial inflammatory phase, with its superior antimicrobial activity, when compared with store bought honeys. Manuka provides a way to reduce antibiotic use at a time of increasingly prevalent antibiotic resistant bacteria. The osmotic debridement effect of manuka honey can aid the body in its natural healing process, and provides anti-inflammatory effects, which can help to reduce redness, oedema and swelling in chronic troublesome wounds. For use during the inflammatory phase, manuka honey provides a wide range of benefits and should be a staple of every practice's wound management protocols.” - The Veterinary Nurse

How to apply manuka honey to your dog’s wound

First of all, make sure you’re using a UMF™ grade of 10+ or higher, as this is considered to have MGO levels high enough to be effective for wound care.

The higher the MGO levels the higher the antibacterial properties in the honey so you may decide on a higher grade depending on the severity of the wound.

Here are three ways you can apply manuka honey to your dog's wound:

  1. Apply it directly onto the wound, and use a cone or bandage to stop your dog from licking off the tasty goodness before it starts working.
  2. Dilute manuka honey with water and wash the wound with it, leaving some on to soak in. The antibacterial and antimicrobial properties of manuka honey are not diminished when the honey is diluted.
  3. Make a manuka honey bandage to cover the wound on your dog, making sure that the honey is on the wound and the bandage is secure enough to prevent licking.

Although applying manuka honey to your dog’s wounds can be helpful, it won’t work miracles and fix a serious problem on its own. If your dog has a serious wound, take them to the vet. It’s always best to get their expert opinion and treatment if necessary.

You can always talk to them about manuka honey and whether it can be used in the healing or recovery process of your dog.

>> SHOP OUR RANGE OF MANUKA HONEY

What’s another common dog illness? Kennel cough.

Manuka Honey For Kennel Cough

“Dogs "catch" kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).

These factors include exposure to crowded and/or poorly ventilated conditions, such as are found in many kennels and shelters, cold temperatures, exposure to dust or cigarette smoke, and travel-induced stress.” - WebMD

Kennel cough is very common, and spreads easily between dogs a bit like the common cold at a school. There’s no cure as such, but using honey as a treatment for kennel cough can provide relief.

So is manuka honey good for dogs with kennel cough?

Sylvan Corners Pet Hospital puts manuka honey at the top of the list to treat kennel cough in dogs! Their experienced vets say:

“Honey is beneficial for dogs with kennel cough because it contains many antioxidants, enzymes and flavonoids. If you give your dog Manuka honey, it may relieve his symptoms and make him feel better. The amount of honey you give your dog will depend on his size.” - Sylvan Pets

Giving some manuka honey to your dog when it has a bad cough or kennel cough can help soothe the throat and help clear it up altogether.

How to give your dog manuka honey for kennel cough

The most effective way is giving it to them straight - not diluted, not mixed in with treats.

Try it after they’ve eaten so it has a chance to stay in the mouth and throat before moving into their digestive system.

How much honey you give your dog for its cough depends on a few factors, which we'll get to soon (or jump down to find your dogs dosage now).

But first, let’s look at using manuka honey for ear infections.

Manuka Honey for Dogs Ear Infections (Otitis Externa)

Ear infections in dogs are also very common.

Ear infections are another dog problem that manuka honey can help with. Don’t just take our word for it though: there was a medical trial testing exactly whether or not this was true!

In the trial, dogs with otitis externa were prescribed 1 ml of medical-grade honey per ear, daily. The results were positive:

“Medical grade honey promoted rapid clinical progress, with 70% of dogs achieving clinical cure between days 7 and 14 and over 90% having resolved by Day 21.” - US National Library of Medicine

But holistic veterinarian Dr. Katie Woodley advises caution:

“When treating ear infections, we do have to be careful with what is being placed in the ears, and the dog must be examined prior to make sure the eardrum is intact and that there isn’t something like a grass seed or other foreign body present that’s causing inflammation.” - Outward Hound

As usual, it’s best to consult your vet or medical professional to find the root of the problem, but it’s likely that manuka honey can provide some relief for ear infections in dogs.

>> SHOP OUR RANGE OF MANUKA HONEY

Next up: a seasonal issue.

Can Manuka Honey Help Dog Allergies?

The jury is still out on whether or not honey is helpful for allergies. Some believe that consuming small amounts of local honey might be able to relieve allergies, with the logic being that the body can get used to products from those specific plants.

The general consensus is that it’s not guaranteed to help, but it’s unlikely to cause harm. If manuka honey isn’t considered your local honey, it might not be able to help with your dog’s allergies.

“Regardless of the lack of conclusive research, feeding your dog a small amount of honey to help with allergens won’t harm him, even if it is not guaranteed or even likely to help.” - American Kennel Club

So, we’ve looked at the benefits of manuka honey for dogs - including three major problems it can likely help with.

>> Shop our range of Manuka Honey

Now, it’s time to make sure you’re administering it safely.

How Much Manuka Honey Can I Give My Dog?

If you’re about to run to the pantry, stick a spoon into a jar of manuka honey and call your dog in from the garden, pump the brakes a little.

Let’s talk about how much is a recommended and safe amount.

The amount for your dog depends on the size and weight of them.

As a general rule…

  • Small dogs (under 10 lbs / 4.5 kgs) = ¼ teaspoon a day
  • Medium dogs (10-20 lbs / 4.5-9 kgs) = ½ teaspoon a day
  • Larger dogs (20-50 lbs / 9-22 kgs) = 1 teaspoon a day
  • Large-breed dogs (over 50 lbs / 22 kgs) = 2 teaspoons a day

It’s good to follow these guidelines, as excess consumption could result in hyperactivity because of the high sugar content, and also start to have negative effects on their teeth.

The volumes listed above apply to all uses - whether you’re giving it to them for kennel cough or daily immunity, stick to the recommended amount.

How Should I Give My Dog Manuka Honey?

There are a few different ways - of course you can get creative!

  • On a teaspoon. Give it to them straight and enjoy their initial reaction (ideal method for kennel cough and dog breath).
  • Diluted with water. This will give them just as many health benefits, but in a drink.
  • Mixed in with dog treats. If you make your own food or treats, simply add manuka honey to your ingredients list.

Now that you know the how, why, and when, let’s take a look at the where and what.

>> Shop our range of Manuka Honey

Where Can I Buy Manuka Honey For Dogs?

The manuka honey you’d give to dogs comes from the same jar that you’d eat from yourself. There’s no special doggy version, so don’t be fooled.

Our Manuka Honey range includes UMF™ grades from 5+ to 26+ which offers you a wide range of options for your dog. You can shop those here.

Look out for the same markers of quality from your manuka honey whether it’s for you or your dog!

An experienced vet issues a stark warning about fake manuka honey:

“Inevitably the increase in the commercial use of manuka honey has caused demands for the product to rise, this unfortunately has resulted in food grade manuka honey being blended with other honeys sourced from nectar related to the manuka plant and being sold as manuka honey (Hollis 2012). The most common is from the Australian jelly bush, but it is not genuine manuka. So, if manuka honey is being recommended it should be made clear that store-bought products should be avoided as labelling can be misleading and inconsistent, and its use could cause adverse reactions in already potentially compromised patients (Hollis, 2012).” - The Veterinary Nurse

What’s the bottom line?

Make sure you get the real stuff, by buying authentic UMF™ graded honey.

UMF™ stands for Unique Manuka Factor. It is the standardised grading measurement of the Unique Manuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA). It measures chemical markers of manuka honey, including MGO, which was the one we discussed in detail above.

Read more: Manuka Honey: Decoding UMF™

Which strength of manuka honey should I buy for my dog?

In our blog How Much UMF™ Is Enough?, we look at the purposes that different strengths of manuka honey are suited to.

For dogs, it’s recommended to start small when introducing manuka honey into their diet.

We recommend these two lower grades:

For wound care, treating ear infections, and kennel cough, the UMF™ 10+ could be more effective. Your vet might also have advice on how much UMF™ your dog can handle, based on its diet, size, and weight.

And that brings us to the end of telling you everything you need to know about manuka honey and dogs!

There’s only one thing left to do…

Buy a jar of certified raw manuka honey for your doggy first aid kit now.

We’ve answered a few common questions below for easy reference.

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FAQs

Can I give manuka honey to my diabetic dog?

No. It’s not advised to give any type of honey to a diabetic dog. It’s possible that it could be used externally, but you’d need to check with your dog’s vet first.

Can puppies have honey?

No. It’s recommended that dogs under 1 year of age shouldn’t be given any type of honey, as their immune systems are still developing and they might not be able to digest it very well.

Which dogs shouldn’t have honey?

Dogs that are allergic to bee stings, diabetic dogs, puppies younger than 1 year, overweight or obese dogs, and immuno-compromised dogs.

Is honey bad for dogs?

No. Honey is considered safe for most dogs, in small quantities. Depending on the type of honey, it can bring them health benefits. Manuka honey is especially helpful for boosting immunity, fighting kennel cough, aiding in wound care, and helping with both gut health and oral hygiene in dogs.

Is manuka honey helpful for other pets too?

Some people have experience using manuka honey on horses and cats too. A horse vet recommends it for treating some horse wounds.

For the use of manuka honey with your cat or any other pet we would recommend you consult your vetinarian for advice.

Your wellness journey starts with a spoonful a day.

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