Manuka honey, derived from the nectar of the Manuka tree native to New Zealand and parts of Australia, has been gaining popularity for its remarkable healing potential. In this article, we will explore the potential benefits and precautions of using Manuka honey in dog care, focusing on both internal and external use.
The Healing Properties of Manuka Honey
Manuka honey’s healing power is attributed to its significant antibacterial properties that can combat a wide range of pathogens. The key compound responsible for these antibacterial properties is Methylglyoxal (MGO).
Manuka honey is not just effective against common bacteria, but also antibiotic-resistant strains. Clinical trials have demonstrated its potential in inhibiting the growth of several strains of harmful bacteria including MRSA, MSSA, Salmonella, E. Coli, and H. pylori.
External Benefits of Manuka Honey for Dogs
1. Wound Care: Manuka honey serves as an excellent first aid remedy for treating cuts and minor wounds on dogs. Applying it directly to a cleaned wound can speed up healing and create a protective barrier against infection, thanks to its antibacterial properties. The honey’s acidic environment also promotes healing by affecting the pH levels within the wound bed.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Action: The anti-inflammatory effects of Manuka honey help reduce swelling, exudation, and malodor from wounds.
3. Inhibition of Biofilm Formation: Chronic wounds are often challenging to treat due to the presence of bacterial biofilms. Manuka honey has been shown to inhibit biofilm formation, a crucial factor in healing chronic wounds.
4. FDA Approval: The FDA has approved Manuka honey as a recommended alternative for wound treatment. It is available in various formats, including dressings, sprays, ointments, and gels, making it versatile for clinical use.
5. Topical Application for Irritated Skin: Manuka honey can be applied topically to relieve itchiness and control inflammation in irritated skin areas.
Internal Benefits of Manuka Honey for Dogs
1. Immune System Support: Giving Manuka honey orally to dogs supports the regeneration of healthy skin cells and improves overall immunity due to its antioxidant properties, which come from the flavonoids and phenolic acids present in the honey.
2. Prebiotic Effect: The manuka honey acts as a natural prebiotic, supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Given that 70-80% of a dog’s immune system resides in its gut, maintaining good gut health is crucial for overall health.
3. Antiviral Properties: Manuka honey has antiviral properties that can protect dogs against common viruses, such as canine flu and kennel cough. Its anti-inflammatory properties might soothe inflamed upper respiratory tract tissues in dogs with kennel cough.
4. Dental Health: Manuka honey can help prevent dental disease in dogs by improving oral health and preventing gum disease.
5. Ear Infections: Manuka honey’s antimicrobial properties may assist in treating dog ear infections when used in products specifically designed for this purpose. However, it’s better to never apply Manuka honey directly into a dog’s ear. Instead, use products like Absorbine Silver Honey Rapid Ear Care Vet Strength Ear Rinse, which contains medical-grade Manuka honey.
Precautions and Recommendations
While Manuka honey possesses numerous health benefits for dogs, it is essential to proceed with caution and consult a veterinarian before adding it to your dog’s diet. Consider the following precautions and recommendations when using Manuka honey for your dog’s care:
1. Be Aware of Quality Differences: Choose authentic Manuka honey made in New Zealand or Australia from reputable brands. The price may be higher than other types of honey, due to rigorous testing regulations and the short flowering season of the Manuka tree.
2. Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) Grade: The UMF grading system is an internationally recognized quality assurance system for New Zealand Mānuka honey. When purchasing Manuka honey, consider choosing one with at least UMF 10+ if using it for healing purposes.
3. Dosage Based on Weight: The dosage of Manuka honey for dogs should depend on the dog’s weight, starting with a lower dosage and gradually increasing. Consult a holistic veterinarian for specific health concerns before administering Manuka honey orally.
4. Avoid in Certain Cases: Manuka honey should not be given to puppies below one-year-old, diabetic dogs due to its high sugar content, overweight dogs, or dogs with bee pollen or bee allergies. In case of serious wounds, seek professional veterinary assistance.
How to Administer Manuka Honey
Manuka honey can readily be incorporated into your dog’s routine. It can be given directly, added to their food or water, or even smeared onto a treat or chew toy. However, as with any dietary supplement, you should consult with your veterinarian first to make certain it is suitable for your dog and to determine the appropriate dosage.
It’s also important to realize that while Manuka honey can be a powerful tool in treating various health issues in dogs, it’s not a cure-all and shouldn’t replace veterinary treatment for serious ailments or injuries. It should be utilized as part of a comprehensive approach to your pet’s health, in conjunction with regular check-ups and a balanced, nutritious diet.