Animals: Manuka Honey Benefits for Pets & Vets
Manuka honey, derived from the golden nectar of the Manuka tree, has gained significant recognition for its unique healing properties. While commonly known for its human consumption, the use of Manuka honey in veterinary medicine has also shown promising results. This article delves into the history of Manuka honey, explores its benefits for pets and animals, and highlights its value in veterinary practices.
Manuka Honey Historical Background
Manuka honey has been used for centuries in traditional medicine by the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. It was renowned for its antimicrobial properties and effectiveness in treating various ailments, including wounds and infections.
Until the 1930s, it may surprise you that Manuka honey was considered to have very little value. Beekeepers would groan in frustration due to the difficulty of extracting the thick and jelly-like Manuka honey from the hive frames.
Manuka honey was also considered too strong of a flavour compared to the widely-loved sweet clover honey and beekeepers would give the honey away for free to dairy farmers, who would feed it to their cows.
The story goes that the farmers noticed that cows that fed on this honey did not suffer from infectious diseases as frequently as animals that had not. This was probably one of the earliest indications there was some type of special properties of manuka honey.
In the late 1980s, scientific research conducted by Dr. Peter Molan at the University of Waikato in New Zealand shed light on the unique properties of Manuka honey. Dr. Molan discovered the presence of an exceptional antibacterial compound known as methylglyoxal (MGO), which gives Manuka honey its potent medicinal properties.
The preliminary research conducted by Molan set the foundation for what would eventually lead to one of Australia and New Zealand’s most profound and valuable natural exports, now worth its weight in gold.
Manuka Honey Benefits for Pets
1. Wound Healing
Manuka honey's antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a valuable tool in promoting wound healing for pets and animals. It can help prevent infection, reduce inflammation, and stimulate tissue regeneration, accelerating the healing process.
2. Skin Conditions
Pets suffering from skin conditions such as dermatitis, hot spots, or allergies can benefit from the application of Manuka honey. Its natural antibacterial and soothing properties help alleviate itching, redness, and irritation, providing relief to affected animals.
3. Digestive Health
Manuka honey has been observed to have a positive impact on the digestive health of pets. It may assist in soothing gastrointestinal inflammation, reducing symptoms of diarrhea, and promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.
4. Oral Health
The antimicrobial properties of Manuka honey can aid in maintaining oral health in pets. It may help control oral bacteria, reduce plaque formation, and alleviate certain dental conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Manuka Honey Use in Veterinary Practices
1. Wound Management
Veterinarians have started incorporating Manuka honey into wound management protocols for pets and animals. It is used as a topical application or wound dressing to prevent infection, promote faster healing, and minimize scarring.
In a veterinary study conducted on horses, the effectiveness of Manuka honey in healing contaminated and normal wounds was assessed. The study focused on treating thick limb wounds using five different methods: Manuka honey, Manuka honey gel, Manuka gel for 12 days, another ointment for 12 days, and leaving the wounds untreated. After a period of 12 days, it was observed that wounds treated with Manuka honey and gel showed smaller size and faster healing, particularly in the case of contaminated wounds.
2. Post Surgical-Care
In veterinary surgical procedures, Manuka honey can be used as part of post-operative care. Its antimicrobial properties help reduce the risk of surgical site infections and support wound healing, leading to improved recovery for pets.
3. Supportive Therapy
Manuka honey's nutritional and therapeutic qualities make it a suitable component of supportive therapy for animals with various health conditions. It can provide energy, boost the immune system, and contribute to overall well-being.
The historical use of Manuka honey and the scientific research on its unique properties have paved the way for its application in veterinary medicine. The benefits of Manuka honey for pets and animals, including wound healing, skin conditions, digestive health, and oral care, have been observed and supported by veterinarians and researchers. With its versatility and natural healing properties, Manuka honey has become a valuable tool in the arsenal of veterinary practitioners, promoting better health and well-being for our beloved animal companions.