There’s a lot of buzz around Manuka honey and its natural healing properties. So here’s what you need to know about how Manuka honey for dogs.
But first, let’s talk about honey in general …
The Healing Properties Of Honey
Healers have known the medicinal powers of honey for thousands of years. And recently scientists have dug deeper into how honey heals as they look for a solution to antibiotic-resistant superbugs …
Raw, unpasteurized honey is …
One reason honey does all these things is that it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, which is a strong antiseptic.
But not all raw honey is equal … and Manuka honey packs the most punch.
The beauty of honey is its ability to heal both internally and externally.
In 2015 the FDA approved wound dressings infused with Manuka honey. This brought the wound healing power of honey into conventional medicine.
Manuka honey has even helped with medical challenges like MRSA (1). (MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, an antibiotic resistant bacteria). MRSA can be very tough to resolve … but Manuka honey can help where conventional drugs fail.
The Magic Of Manuka Honey
So what makes Manuka so special?
You can thank the bees in New Zealand and Australia for this golden cure. They pollinate the small white flowers of the Manuka tree (Leptospermum scoparium), commonly known as the tea tree.
(Don’t confuse this with the Australian tree that tea tree oil comes from … that’s Melaleuca alternifolia.)
Ancient settlers used the bark and leaves of these trees for herbal teas. Manuka oil is known for relieving stress and other psychological issues in humans … so it’s no surprise that Manuka honey is known as healing honey.
It offers more protection against infection and disease because of its powerful chemical components:
- Methylglyoxal (MGO): a naturally occurring chemical compound in Manuka honey that can vary between different Manuka honey … remember this player for later in the post.
- Dihydroxyacetone (DHA): found in the nectar of Manuka flowers … and converts into MGO during the honey production process.
- Leptosperin: a naturally occurring chemical found in the nectar of Manuka plants.
These components give Manuka honey longer-lasting antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal effects …
That’s because they’re not used up as quickly in the healing process compared to other types of honey … which have only hydrogen peroxide available as their main chemical defense. Lab tests have found that it can successfully treat approximately 60 species of bacteria (2).
This is huge in a world battling infections that are resistant to conventional drugs.
Some of the more common infections Manuka honey can treat include:
- Escherichia coli
- Proteus mirabilis
- Pseudomonas aeruginosa
- Salmonella typhimurium
- Serratia marcescens
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Streptococcus pyogenes
- Candida albicans
6 Benefits Of Manuka Honey For Dogs
1. First Aid Wound Care
As much as you try to keep your dog out of trouble, he’ll still find ways to get bumps and cuts. The good news is, Manuka honey can help with minor wounds at home.
Check out Dr Jane Laura Doyle’s recommendations for wound-cleaning. If you’re unsure how bad the wound really is or if it’s a deep cut, check with your holistic vet first.
Once the wound is clean … you can apply pure Manuka honey directly on top of the wound and cover it with a clean bandage. If the cut is small and not very deep you may not need to use a bandage.
But if you don’t use a bandage, you’ll need to distract your dog for while … as the honey won’t have time to work its magic if he licks it off.
To take the healing powers up a notch … you can mix equal parts Manuka honey with colostrum to make a wound paste. This mixture will be less sticky and colostrum contains growth factors that stimulate wound healing, giving you two powerful natural healers in one DIY paste.
RELATED: Benefits of colostrum for dogs …
2. Fight Skin Disease
Skin disease is a common problem in many dogs … whether from allergies or immune-mediated issues. And many conventional treatments come with a long list of negative side effects, without fixing the root issue.
Manuka honey can provide itch relief while you sort out the cause of your dog’s allergies. Manuka honey is great at controlling inflammation and this can help soothe the itching. Skin disease is often a battle of bacteria or yeast overgrowth that leads to red, inflamed skin.
You can use Manuka honey topically as a spot treatment with a ready-made ointment or even the Manuka honey and colostrum combination described earlier.
Spread a small amount on the area of irritated skin a few times a day. It can help with hot spots as well.
You can also give it orally (see below for dosing). Manuka honey supports the body’s natural ability to restore healthy skin cells.
RELATED: Allergy relief for dogs …
3. Prebiotic Support For Gut Health
Gut health is essential to overall health. About 90% of your dog’s immune system starts in the gut. So you want to do everything you can to make sure your dog’s digestive system has a good balance of bacteria.
Probiotics are the good bacteria your dog needs. And prebiotics fuel the probiotics and help them thrive. Manuka honey is a natural prebiotic that can help maintain the right bacterial balance (3).
This helps support your dog’s natural immune response to help him heal faster. So if you’re treating your dog with Manuka honey for a wound or skin issue … don’t forget to sneak some into his meals too.
RELATED: Prebiotics for dogs …
4. Added Immune Support
By boosting the good bacteria in your dog’s gut with Manuka honey you can strengthen his immune system. Manuka honey also has anti-viral properties.
If your dog is happy and healthy he’s at less risk of getting sick from a virus. But there are things in life that can lower his natural protection … and a big one is stress. Stress weakens the immune system … putting him at higher risk of getting a viral or bacterial infection.
Two common illnesses found in stressed dogs are dog flu and kennel cough. Boarding is stressful for dogs. That’s how kennel cough got its name … as it’s common in dogs in kennel environments. But sometimes stress can’t be avoided.
If your dog travels for competitions … or is lucky enough to be your number one travel companion, he could also be at higher risk.
The good news is you can use Manuka honey orally to boost his immune health. Try offering it orally as a preventive step before dogs shows, traveling or if he’ll be meeting new dogs.
5. Antioxidant Protection
Your dog needs antioxidants to keep disease and cancer at bay. Antioxidants slow the aging process and support your dog’s immune system. They repair and restore the body’s cells to fight free radical damage … as well as to counter the effects of environmental toxins like …
- Air pollution
- Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers
- Electromagnetic frequencies from our technology devices
… but you can feed antioxidants to combat this damage. One study in Saudi Arabia found that the flavonoids and phenolic acids found in Manuka honey had significant antioxidant effects (4).
6. Support Oral Health
Who doesn’t love doggy kisses? Well … you may not if your dog has stinky breath!
Your dog’s smelly breath can be due to many things … but they’re all connected.
If your dog has a gut health imbalance you can see many health changes like …
- Allergy symptoms
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Joint disease
- Dental disease
and Manuka honey can prevent gum disease.
Bacteria below the gum line leads to inflammation (gingivitis), the first stage of dental disease.
Researchers at the University of Zurich (5) found that Manuka honey was effective at controlling several types of oral bacteria … but the grade of Manuka honey was important. Honey with a grade of UMF16+ was needed to control oral bacteria. Keep reading to learn about the grades of Manuka honey.
RELATED: How to prevent dental disease in dogs …
Grades Of Manuka Honey
When it comes to Manuka honey … you need to choose the right grade. In 2009 researchers found that honey with more Methylglyoxal (MGO) has stronger therapeutic benefits (6) … and remember that this chemical is what gives Manuka honey its longer-lasting healing power.
This is why there is a UMF grading system for Manuka honey. UMF is short for Unique Manuka Factor … and honey with more MGO has a higher value. When using Manuka honey for healing, you want to buy at least UMF1O+.
You need an even higher UMF product if your dog is battling a superbug or virus.
Manuka honey ranges from UMF5+ up to UMF28+.
And if you’re trying to support your dog through an infection like kennel cough, choose UMF20+ or more.
Manuka Honey Dosing For Dogs
If you’re using Manuka honey internally start your dog off slow and use half of the dose below, increasing gradually:
- Under 20 lbs: 1/2 tsp twice a day
- 20-60 lbs: 1 tsp twice a day
- 60 lbs or more: 2 tsp twice a day
As your dog adjusts, you can slowly increase to the full amounts.
Because of the high sugar content, don’t give Manuka honey to diabetic dogs.
Don’t give Manuka honey to dogs under a year old either. The bacteria in Manuka honey may be too much for your puppy’s developing immune system.
Most adult dogs have no problems taking Manuka honey orally … but check with your holistic vet if you have any concerns about whether it’s right for your dog’s individual needs.
- Jenkins R, Burton N, Cooper R. Manuka honey inhibits cell division in methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2011 Nov;66(11):2536-42.
- Mandal MD, Mandal S. Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2011 Apr;1(2):154-60.
- Anand Mohan et al. Effect of honey in improving the gut microbial balance, Food Quality and Safety, Volume 1, Issue 2, 1 May 2017, Pages 107–115.
- Almasaudi SB et al. Manuka Honey Exerts Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activities That Promote Healing of Acetic Acid-Induced Gastric Ulcer in Rats. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:5413917.
- Schmidlin PR et al. Antibacterial potential of Manuka honey against three oral bacteria in vitro. Swiss Dent J. 2014;124(9):922-4.
- Atrott J, Henle T. Methylglyoxal in Manuka Honey – Correlation with Antibacterial Properties. Czech J. Food Sci.. 2009;27(Special Issue 1):S163-165