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Health & Wellness

Here's how honey can help dogs with allergies and more

Eating local honey can be a good way for your pet to build up an immunity to seasonal allergies.

If you’ve ever had a seasonal cough or sore throat, you might have used honey as a quick at-home remedy. But can it actually help ease your pup’s allergies, too?

Honey is a safe treat if given to your dog in moderation. It’s packed full of sugar, so consumption should be limited, but it’s also a good source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. And some believe it can even help with seasonal allergies.

Although honey is generally a safe treat for dogs, you should always contact your vet before introducing your pup to new foods. 

Does honey help seasonal allergies in dogs?

While using honey isn't a medical treatment to cure seasonal allergies, it’s still a safe relief option to try in moderation. You should talk to your vet about long-term plans if you suspect your dog suffers from seasonal allergies.

“People use honey and bee pollen to desensitize people and animals from environmental allergens, such as pollen,” Dr. Gary Richter, DVM, owner and medical director of Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, California, says. “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.”

Because allergies are often caused by springtime pollen, it’s important to use local honey when trying to prevent allergies. The local product will contain a variety of the same pollen spores that are in the air around your home, which gives allergy sufferers so much trouble when flowers and grasses are in bloom. 

“Eating honey introduces these spores in small amounts and helps make the body accustomed to their presence,” Dr. Richter says.

When it comes to using honey at home to help treat or prevent your dog’s seasonal allergies, Dr. Richter suggests using bee pollen a couple of months before seasonal allergies normally set in (with your vet's guidance, of course). The pollen may actually be more effective than giving your pup sugary honey.

Consuming honey or bee pollen decreases the chance of an immune system response, like the release of histamines causing common symptoms. In dogs, seasonal allergy symptoms include itchy skin, red eyes and recurrent ear infections

RELATED: Can you give a dog Benadryl? 

Honey and medicine

Historically, honey was commonly used in basic wound care for both humans and animals. It’s a natural product and, generally, easy to get, making it a quick at-home option if your vet approves. 

“Honey is intensely antimicrobial and, as such, it can be used topically on open wounds to help prevent or eliminate infections,” Dr. Richter says. “Ideally, manuka honey is best, but any honey will work. I’ve healed some pretty nasty open wounds with manuka honey.”

While honey may be helpful under supervision, you should always contact your vet if your dog has suffered any recent injuries, bites or other wounds before treating them at home.  

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

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