Can Dogs Have Honey?

Why pet owners are switching to online vet care with Dutch

  • Prescriptions delivered free to you

  • Fast access to Licensed Vets over video

  • Unlimited video visits and follow-ups

Honey is a sweet natural type of sugar known to treat coughs in humans and makes a great alternative to unhealthy sugar and syrup. If you enjoy honey, you might wonder whether you can share some with your beloved dog. After all, they seem interested in eating everything you do. But can dogs have honey? In short, yes, dogs can have honey. Honey is safe for dogs in small quantities and may even be a great way to entice them to eat. However, some dogs should not eat honey because it can harm their health.1 

Should Dogs Eat Honey?

It's important to note that treats and other food items that contain calories should not exceed more than 10% of your dog's diet.2 While honey is safe for dogs in small quantities, it doesn't provide many health benefits because they should already get all the vitamins and minerals they need from their regular kibble and/or wet food diets. One teaspoon of honey is 21 calories.2 Therefore, a small dog should not consume more than a single teaspoon of honey because it can contribute to weight gain and obesity. If you don't know how many calories your dog should consume daily, consult your vet for diet and nutrition advice to ensure you're not overfeeding them. 

1 teaspoon of honey is 21 calories

In addition, it's important to remember that honey is a sugar, so while it contains more health benefits than regular sugar, it can contribute to diabetes. Diabetic dogs should not consume honey because excess sugar can cause potentially dangerous blood sugar spikes.1

Still, when used in moderation and in small amounts, honey can be used to stimulate your dog's appetite and entice them to eat.3 However, honey offers little to no benefit to dogs, so it's not a necessary treat for them. If you want to give your dog honey, you should always consult your vet to ensure it's safe based on their current health. Healthy adult dogs can likely consume honey without side effects because it's non-toxic and makes a good substitute for unhealthy foods and sweets like chocolate that may contain harmful ingredients like xylitol. 

Risks Of Feeding Your Dog Honey

Is honey good for dogs? Not necessarily. Because it doesn't offer the same health benefits as it does for humans, there's really no reason to feed your dog honey other than as an occasional treat. Is honey bad for dogs? It depends. There are a few risks of feeding your dog honey, including diabetes and xylitol poisoning. In addition, not all dogs can eat honey, including the following:

  • Young dogs and puppies: Young puppies don't have strong enough immune systems and should never consume honey because it may contain spores and bacteria. 
  • Obese and diabetic dogs: Obese and diabetic dogs should follow strict weight loss diets and avoid any human foods, including honey unless otherwise advised by a veterinarian. Honey has a high sugar content, which can cause dangerous blood sugar spikes in obese and diabetic dogs. 
  • Dogs with bee allergies: If your dog has ever been stung by a bee and had a bad reaction, they shouldn't consume honey because it means they're likely allergic to bee products. Honey allergies are rare in dogs, but there's no reason to risk it if your dog has had an allergic reaction due to bees. 
  • Immunocompromised dogs: Dogs with compromised immune systems should not eat honey because the potential bacteria in raw honey can cause illness. 

In general, honey is safe for healthy adult dogs in moderation, and as long as you monitor your pet after feeding them honey, they shouldn't experience any reactions. Still, honey is filled with tons of sugar, so it's not the healthiest treat you can share with them and can contribute to poor oral hygiene since the bacteria in your dog's mouth feed on sugar. If you don't brush your dog's teeth regularly, you should avoid feeding them any sugary foods to prevent tooth decay and periodontal disease. 

A Note On Sugar

Is honey safe for dogs? In most cases, honey is safe for healthy adult dogs. However, honey for dogs can be dangerous because of its sugar content. There are roughly 6 grams of sugar in a teaspoon of honey, making it a high-glycemic food that can be dangerous to your dog's health. The only type of sugar your dog needs is carbohydrates; other types of sugar can contribute to various health problems, so your dog doesn't need any added sugar in their diet. Reasons why your dog shouldn't consume sugar include: 

  • GI issues: Too much sugar can cause GI upset in dogs, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. While GI issues are often short-term side effects, they're unpleasant for your dog and can lead to accidents in the house, so always avoid feeding them too much honey. 
  • Tooth decay: Sugar feeds bad bacteria in your dog's mouth that can contribute to tooth decay and periodontal disease. 
  • Weight gain: Sugar contains calories that can lead to weight gain if you don't monitor your dog's caloric intake. Weight gain and obesity can lead to other long-term and potentially fatal health conditions like heart disease, joint problems, and difficulty breathing.4 If you're worried about your dog's weight, your vet can devise a weight management plan to help you understand how much your dog should eat and what types of treats to avoid. 
  • Diabetes: Sugar can contribute to diabetes because it can cause your dog to continue to gain weight because too much sugar can lead to insulin production and high blood sugar.4 Luckily, diabetes in dogs is preventable, as long as you monitor your dog's food intake and help them lose weight if they become overweight. 

Xylitol Toxicity

In addition to potential weight gain and GI issues, honey can contain harmful ingredients like xylitol, a sugar substitute. Most pet parents know the danger of grapes for dogs, but honey for dogs can be just as harmful if it contains additional ingredients. Therefore, you should always read the ingredients label on honey to ensure it doesn't contain xylitol.

Xylitol affects how insulin is released from the body, which can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels, resulting in hypoglycemia that can cause organ damage and death in dogs.5 Like peanut butter, some honey may contain xylitol, so you should only feed your dog single-ingredient honey to prevent potential xylitol poisoning. If you believe your dog has consumed xylitol from honey or any other product, take them to the nearest emergency vet clinic as soon as possible for treatment. Xylitol is deadly in small amounts, and its effects can be fast-acting, but the earlier you get your dog treatment, the better their prognosis. 

90% or more of your dog’s diet should come from a whole, complete food

FAQs

How much honey should I give my dog?

If you know how many calories your dog should consume daily, you can feed your dog honey based on the 10% rule, which states that treats should not make up more than 10% of your dog's diet. Unfortunately, most pet parents don't know how many calories their dog should consume, so it's always best to talk to your veterinarian before feeding your dog anything new. In addition, if your dog has a health condition, honey might not be safe for them, so getting their advice can be beneficial and prevent dangerous health complications. 

How much honey is toxic to dogs?

Honey isn't toxic to dogs, but they should not consume more than one teaspoon per day, depending on their weight. Small or toy breeds should consume less honey. Consult your vet if your dog consumes an excessive amount of honey, especially if they're experiencing side effects. 

Can dogs have honey for coughing?

Honey has been known to treat coughing in humans, and many pet parents believe it can help prevent and treat coughing in dogs. Still, you should always talk to your vet about the most effective treatment for cough because honey contains high levels of sugar that can impact their health and be potentially dangerous for some dogs. 

Dog owner sitting on kitchen floor, hand feeding dog a treat

Final Notes  

Can dogs eat honey? Technically, yes. Honey has been used as a natural remedy for centuries, but that doesn't mean it's safe for your dog. In general, honey is safe for most healthy adult dogs. However, some dogs shouldn't consume honey, so it's always best to talk to a vet before giving your dog any new foods. In addition, honey may contain some beneficial nutrients. Still, your dog already gets the necessary vitamins and minerals from their regular diet, so honey isn't necessary and can even become an unhealthy treat contributing to weight gain and associated health problems. 

Wondering if honey is safe for your dog? Talk to a Dutch vet. Our online vet care subscription service provides pet parents with access to a vet when they need them, offering telemedicine for pets in the comfort of their own homes to prevent the need for non-emergency medical situations, questions, and advice. Try Dutch today. 

.

References

  1. Burke, Anna. "Can Dogs Eat Honey?" American Kennel Club, 4 Aug. 2022, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/can-dogs-eat-honey/.

  2. Treats Guidelines for Dogs - UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. https://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/sites/g/files/dgvnsk491/files/inline-files/treats-guidelines-for-dogs-2020.pdf.

  3. Deborah E. Linder, DVM. "What Treats Can I Give My Dog with Kidney Disease?" Clinical Nutrition Service at Cummings School, 23 May 2018, https://vetnutrition.tufts.edu/2018/05/what-treats-can-i-give-my-dog-with-kidney-disease/.

  4. "6 Reasons Why Your Dog Shouldn't Have Sugar." PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/slideshows/6-reasons-why-your-dog-shouldnt-have-sugar.

  5. "Xylitol Poisoning in Dogs." PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/endocrine/c_dg_xylitol_toxicity.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $15/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.