It is a heartbreaking sound for dog owners: the persistent, honking dry cough coming from the dog you love. A dose of honey for coughing may soothe their throat and reduce their coughing, but it is important to consult a veterinarian before introducing your dog to a new food. Some dogs, including diabetic and overweight dogs and puppies under a year old, should not be fed honey.
Is honey good for dogs?
It is unknown whether honey is actually good for dogs. However, though there is a lack of scientific research regarding the effectiveness of honey in treating canine problems, there is no shortage of anecdotal evidence arguing its value and anti-bacterial properties. Most studies on the benefits of natural remedies, such as honey, have been conducted on humans and show that it may help people with allergies and gastrointestinal issues. Medical-grade Manuka honey is helpful for wound healing in horses.
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Dogs are physiologically different from horses and humans. Until research has been conducted on the use of honey in our doggy friends, it is impossible to say whether honey is good or safe for dogs. Used under veterinary supervision, in most cases, it is safe.
Because honey has a high sugar content, it is only good for dogs in minimal amounts and should never be given to obese dogs or those with diabetes. Honey is not safe for puppies, as their underdeveloped immune system may not be able to handle the allergens and Bordetella spores found naturally in raw honey.
Can honey help a dog coughing?
Honey might help a dog coughing, but the most effective way to treat a cough or sore throat in dogs is for your veterinarian to diagnose and treat the cause. They can provide you with effective cough suppressants if necessary. Studies have shown that honey is effective for soothing sore throats and reducing the frequency of coughing in humans. Giving dogs honey for kennel cough or other coughing may be a natural way to sooth a dog's throat, but there just isn't much evidence.
See your veterinarian immediately if your dog's cough is persistent or paired with blood or if your dog cannot eat or refuses to eat. Coughing can be a symptom of many medical conditions, some of which may be life-threatening.
Honey for collapsed trachea in dogs
That deep, dry, honking cough you keep hearing from your canine companion could signify a collapsed trachea. Dogs with a collapsed trachea, or windpipe, have weakened cartilage along the trachea walls that starts to sag, causing them to have difficulty breathing air into their lungs. Middle-age and senior dogs are most commonly affected as well as toy breeds, like Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, Yorkshire terriers, and toy poodles.
A collapsed trachea must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian with either medication or surgery, but honey may be a helpful home remedy to relieve some of your dog's honking cough.
How much honey to feed dogs
As with any food, ask your veterinarian how much you should feed your dog. Every dog has different specific needs, and your veterinarian will give you the best advice. If your veterinarian has approved its use, a suggested dosage for honey would be 1 teaspoon for every 20 pounds of a dog's weight.
If your dog has preexisting health conditions, like diabetes, definitely speak with your veterinarian before feeding them anything containing sugar, such as honey. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with safe and effective alternatives to honey to treat your dog's sore throat.
How to give dogs honey for a cough
If you and your DVM agree that honey is safe for your canine companion, you are in luck. Honey is easy to give to your dog but always do it in moderation.
- Never give your dog hot honey. Hot honey can cause serious burns. Give honey at room temperature. If it is too thick and difficult to use easily, place the honey jar in warm water to soften it.
- Add honey to your dog's meals. If your dog is not comfortable being hand-fed or trying new foods, drizzle the honey onto their dog food at mealtime or onto dog treats.
- Feed your dog a teaspoon of honey. Either give the honey directly from a teaspoon or dilute it with water. Many dogs will enjoy this as a tasty treat.
- Give your dog honey with a medicine dropper or syringe. If you want your dog to receive a specific dose, using a medicine dropper or syringe will help you accurately measure what your dog has received.
- Use your finger to apply honey directly into your dog's mouth. You may find it easier to use your finger to smear honey along your dog's gums. This may be less messy for some dogs, especially those with longer fur on the face.
- Praise your dog for consuming the honey. Encourage your dog to lick the honey with words of encouragement as well as praise and pets. Most of the time, you won't have problems getting dogs to eat (they love a good treat), but the soothing sound of your voice will ease reluctant eaters.
- Wipe around your dog's mouth after giving them honey. Honey is sticky and may irritate your dog if it gets stuck in the fur around their mouth. They may even transfer it to their paws or other parts of their body. So, wipe away any sticky residue with a soft, damp cloth.
The bottom line
Honey is a safe home remedy for coughing in healthy adult dogs. Pet parents should know, however, that there is little evidence that honey can relieve coughing in dogs, although it is a proven treatment for coughing and sore throats in humans. Always consult your veterinarian if your otherwise healthy dog has a cough, as it can be a symptom of a serious illness. Never give honey to puppies or dogs with diabetes or obesity.