There’s a lot of buzz about Manuka honey for dogs, and with good reason. High-quality Manuka honey can help wounds, ease kennel cough symptoms, and even treat ear infections when used properly.
So what’s the catch, and is Manuka honey the next big thing in the pet industry? No catch, a few no-nos, and plenty of healing reasons to consider using it on your dog.
When my second Cocker Spaniel, Dexter, was diagnosed with kennel cough for a second time, I wanted to help ease his sore throat. He was coughing off and on all day and night. Can you imagine how irritated his throat felt?
My veterinarian gave us the okay to give Dexter half a tablespoon of Manuka honey twice a day based on his weight. Thanks to its antibacterial properties, it helped my dog’s inflammation, swelling, and throat pain.
Of course, not all Manuka honey is created the same. There are a few things savvy dog parents should know before considering nature’s miracle concoction.
Here’s what you need to know about giving your dog Manuka honey (and which dogs shouldn’t consume it.)
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What Is Manuka Honey for Dogs?
Often called a superfood for humans (I mix it in my tea), manuka honey is a golden elixir produced by bees gathering nectar from the Manuka tree. This tree is native to New Zealand and parts of Australia.
“Manuka honey is so effective in fighting infection,” Dr. Dodds writes, “that in 2007, the FDA approved its use for treating wounds and burns in the United States.”
In clinical trials, Dodds says Manuka honey has been shown to kill more than 250 strains of bacteria, including:
- MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- MSSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)
- VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci)
- Helicobacter pylori (which can cause stomach ulcers)
Is Manuka Honey Safe for Dogs?
Anytime you plan to add something new to your dog’s diet, you should always check with your veterinarian first.
Like people, each dog may have a different reaction to Manuka honey. However, if used properly and in conjunction with your veterinarian’s approval, it can be beneficial and safe.
Manuka honey contains a high sugar content but has unique properties that can benefit our furry friends.
We’ll discuss what to look for in Manuka honey, which dogs should avoid it, and proper dosing.
What Dogs Should Not Have Manuka Honey?
Dr. Dodds says pet parents of diabetic dogs should clear it with their veterinarian first. Since 70 percent to 80 percent of honey is fructose (sugar), it can negatively affect blood sugar levels.
Always avoid feeding Manuka honey to puppies under 12 months of age. Their delicate digestive systems are not fully developed yet.
Dogs with bee pollen or bee allergies should never consume Manuka honey. Just as people have allergies, so do dogs.
Overweight or obese dogs should use Manuka honey sparingly and under veterinary supervision. It is a caloric-dense product that should be used in small amounts as directed.
Dogs taking any medication or supplements should not take Manuka honey unless under veterinary supervision.
Benefits of Manuka Honey to Dogs
Natural Antibacterial Properties
Manuka honey is called a superfood and natural remedy because it contains antioxidants, mostly carbohydrates (sugars), and has trace amounts of B and other vitamins.
When ingested, it may help combat bacterial infections in dogs. For dog ear infections, never put Manuka honey in their ear. Products such as Absorbine Silver Honey Rapid Ear Care Vet Strength Ear Rinse contain medical-grade Manuka honey.
Helps Heal Dog Wounds
I prefer to use a wound-specific Manuka honey product to minor wounds, cuts, or scratches on my dog. It helps create a protective barrier against infection.
Your dog’s skin is the largest organ in his body. You want to keep the good bacteria in and the bad bacteria out. It can help everything from hot spots to skin irritations. Seek veterinary help for open wounds.
According to Lucas Pantaleon, a Board Certified Internal Medicine Veterinarian with a special interest and expertise in infection prevention, “Manuka honey has a high sugar content (approximately 80 percent), this dehydrates bacteria, killing the invading bacteria.”
He says many pet owners use concentrated solutions of “chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide and other antiseptics to clean wounds”
Unfortunately, Dr. Pantaleon says these solutions are toxic to the growing cells of the skin, which impairs and slows down the healing process. Additional irritation caused by these solutions can cause pain to the pet and worsen the situation.
Boosts Your Dog’s Immune System
The antioxidant properties in Manuka honey are good news for your dog’s immune system. Consider that 70 percent of your dog’s immune system is in his gut, and you can also understand how gut health is involved.
Cough and Respiratory Health
After using Manuka honey with my dog during his kennel cough days, I saw the results firsthand. More progressive veterinarians and holistic vets often advise their clients on the benefits of Manuka honey.
Speak with your veterinarian about introducing Manuka honey to an itchy or allergic dog.
Dr. Gary Richter, DVM, owner of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California, shared, “People use honey and bee pollen to desensitize people and animals from environmental allergens, such as pollen.”
The theory is that honey or bee pollen contains small amounts of the thing the person or animal is allergic to, and by giving them these products, we can desensitize patients to allergens.
Ask your veterinarian about the use of local honey, as it contains the same pollen spores in your home and the environment.
A pet groomer friend shared a story of how her Cocker Spaniel was affected by a brown recluse spider bite. She was under veterinary care, but my friend also used Manuka honey on the wound, which was on the dog’s throat.
“I really think the Manuka honey made a huge difference in her healing,” she shared. “It’s absolutely in my house for dogs and people now.”
Manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory properties helped the wound site heal.
How To Read A Manuka Honey Label
Manuka honey varies according to the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), indicated by a rating on the jar.
“The higher the UMF rating, the more potent the honey’s antibacterial strength,” according to Dr. Dodds.
I always look for UMF certified with at least 10 minimum potency. Higher grades are the most expensive.
You may also see methylglyoxal (MGO) on a jar, which indicates the presence of certain bioactive compounds, according to a 2018 research review.
A 2017 lab study indicates Manuka honey with UMF 10+ and higher had increased antibacterial effects. The study further indicated that UMF 20+ Manuka honey was an effective treatment against some drug-resistant strains of bacteria.
The Ministry of Primary Industries of New Zealand enforces strict regulations of Manuka honey to ensure only premium products are exported.
Store the jar in a cool, dry location out of sun, so make it last. Never freeze it. Manuka honey is low in moisture but high in sugar, so the risk of ‘going bad’ is decreased.
If improperly stored or frozen, it will go bad.
Where To Buy Manuka Honey for Dogs
There are plenty of fake brands in the world, so be sure the product was made in New Zealand or Australia for authenticity. Some of the better quality Manuka honey products for your dog’s health include:
Manuka Honey and MicroSilver BG
Combining the natural powers of Manuka Honey and MicroSilver BG, this gel is effective on hot spots, sores, cuts, dry skin, and more.
How To Give Your Dog Manuka Honey
There are several ways you can give your dog Manuka honey.
- Orally: On a spoon and allow the dog to lick it off
- On dog food: If your dog accepts it, drizzle it into his food
- On a treat: Line a favorite treat with a thin layer of Manuka honey
- Make a mixture: With pumpkin puree or plain yogurt, and allow the dog to lick or spoon it into a bowl.
In small quantities and with supervision, Manuka honey can become one of the best natural products to enhance your dog’s overall health and well-being.
FAQs About Manuka Honey
The dosage depends on your dog’s weight and veterinary supervision. Most adult dogs under 10 pounds who are cleared to eat it can take 1/8 teaspoon twice a day.
Dogs between 20 and 60 pounds can take up to one teaspoon twice a day.
Larger dogs over 60 pounds can take up to two teaspoons twice a day.
These are guidelines and should be adjusted according to your vet’s instructions.
Raw Manuka honey has not undergone pasteurization or extensive processing. It is processed just enough to remove bee parts and wax. Raw honey retains more natural enzymes. Most Manuka honey is raw, wild, and unpasteurized.
The Manuka tree’s flowering season is very short, ranging between 6 and 12 weeks, making it costly. Higher grades of UMF and MGO drive the price up, too.
No. Manuka honey is antibacterial and is made by bees that forage on the tree. Regular honey is generally more processed than Manuka honey, too.