Anybody with a dog wondered at some point how to treat a dog’s wound. It is quite challenging to treat a sick dog at home. This happens a lot, either because the vet is too far away or because the meds are too expensive.
Or, another bad scenario: they don’t work! I know of so many cases of wounds that didn’t heal, no matter how famous or expensive the drugs were. Something happened, the wound got infected, a nasty super-bug interfered and it seemed like your pet’s suffering would never end.
Honey is food and medicine for both human and animal. It is sweet, indeed, but is no chocolate, you don’t have to worry about being bad for your cat. In fact, all the studies are made first on animals, so, don’t worry, it has been well tested before.
Honey is one of the best remedies for any wound.
Recently we’ve heard a lot about manuka honey as the best in healing a wound. There have been tons of research, probably this type of honey is the most researched honey in the world. The good Australian and New Zealand advertisement experts started from its particularity – the high amount of MGO, a substance known for its antimicrobial properties – and invested a lot in research and marketing. This made manuka honey one of the most important assets of these two countries.
But this was built on the undeniable truth that manuka honey is, indeed, the best in healing a wound. Including burns, hot spots and pressure sores.
Beyond research, the online literature offers us lots and lots of cases of faster healings, even without leaving a scar. For centuries people have treated their wounds with honey, without caring for the scientific approval. And today, because of the ever-increasing numbers of antibiotic-resistant pathogens, scientists have decided to take a closer look to honey.
And so we know today which are some of the factors that make honey such a good remedy for our wounds. Scientists are not yet clarified on all the antimicrobial agents present in honey, and are still researching the source to the unknown factors contributing to honey’s properties.
Read more on the reasearch made on the effects of honey on superbugs:
What kills Staphylococcus aureus? Does manuka honey kill MRSA?
Why is honey good to treat a wound? How does it work?
Clinical trials show that applying honey as a wound dressing eliminates bacterial infections, reduces inflammation, swelling and pain, and increases the growth of new skin. It seals and keeps the area moist (including skin grafts) while protecting from sticking to bandages.
Here are 7 features of honey that are responsible for all these:
1. Low Acidity (pH)
The total pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 considered to be neutral. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic.
Bacterial colonization or infections are often accompanied by pH values > 7.3 in wound exudates. A low pH increases the amount of oxygen off-loaded from hemoglobin in the capillaries and thus speeds up the healing process.
Also, a low pH helps in suppressing protease activity in wounds, as its optimum pH is neutral and excessive protease activity in a wound can slow or prevent healing. The protease activity results from excessive inflammation. But the anti-inflammatory activity of honey would remove this impediment to healing, as would the antibacterial activity working through removing infecting bacteria stimulating the inflammatory response.
2. Hygroscopic activity
Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it has a low water content and draws moisture out of the environment, thus dehydrating any bacteria.
3. High sugar content:
Honey’s high sugar content prevents pain on dressing changes as it keeps the wound surface moist by mobilizing the edema from the surrounding tissues. The sugars will hinder the growth of microbes, but won’t do it alone. When honey is diluted with water, reducing its high sugar content, it will still inhibit the growth of many different bacterial species that cause wound infections.
4. Hydrogen peroxide activity
The hydrogen peroxide activity is common to all honeys and is triggered by an enzyme found in honey, glocose oxidase. It’s an enzyme added by the bees into honey, which will break the glucose down into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a disinfectant used in our medicinal world, from the beginning of times. In honey this substances is stable and released little by little, a fact that makes it superior to being simply applied on the wound, on its own. Read more about the antibacterial properties of honey.
5. Phytochemical components
Over 100 substances are candidates for the particular antibacterial property of manuka honey, but the active ingredient has not yet been identified. Even if the hydrogen peroxide activity is blocked and the osmotic effect of honey is circumvented by dilution, selected honeys from Leptospermum species, still have significant antibacterial effects. (according to Molan 1992; Cooper et al., 2002; Al-Waili et al., 2011).
Manuka honey contains methylglyoxal (MGO) at very high level over 1,000 ppm. This is a toxic substance that kills bacterial cells. On topical wounds, the product is completely safe, but internally scientists have not reached the same conclusion. MGO is related to the development or worsening of many degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, eye cataracts, cancer and diabetes. Which is why, therapists are cautious in recommending it internally. (Read more: It is safe to eat manuka honey?)
7. Lactic Acid Bacteria
Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB) are well known these days under the name of lactobacillus, probiotics, or the good bacteria from our bowels. They are common gut bacteria in vertebrates and invertebrates and some have naturally beneficial properties in their host.
There have been identified 13 species of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium from the honey crop in bees by now, functioning symbiotically with the honeybees. They protect each other, their hosts, and the surrounding environment against severe bee pathogens, bacteria, and yeasts.
The International Wound Journal published in 2014 the study Lactic acid bacterial symbionts in honeybees – an unknown key to honey’s antimicrobial and therapeutic activities, by Tobias C Olofsson et al., showing that there is a unique lactic acid bacterial (LAB) microbiotain the honey stomach of the honey bee Apis mellifera, which is in symbiosis with honeybees and present in large amounts in fresh honey across the world.
Later on it was proved that LAB are not only present in fresh honey, but also in pollen and bee bread. (see the study).
It was then considered that under stress, i.e. in their natural niche in the honey crop, LAB are likely to produce bioactive substances with antimicrobial activity. And the tests proved that this hypothesis was correct.
Are LAB effective in killing bacteria?
· The scientists tested the LAB against severe wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PA) and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE) among others.
“There was a strong antimicrobial activity from each symbiont and a synergistic effect, which counteracted all the tested pathogens. The mechanisms of action are partly shown by elucidating the production of active compounds such as proteins, fatty acids, anaesthetics, organic acids, volatiles and hydrogen peroxide. We show that the symbionts produce a myriad of active compounds that remain in variable amounts in mature honey.”
· They tested it on horses with persistent wounds. LAB was blended with honey and applied to the wounds of 10 horses – wounds that had not responded to any other treatment. The result? Yes, the honey mixture healed all of the horses’ wounds.
Why did they mixed LAB with honey? We don’t have to do this if the honey we use is fresh. Fresh raw honey contains lactic acid bacteria, as it was put in honey by the bees, during the process of turning the nectar into honey. For how long is a honey considered fresh? In its first 3 months. But the best to use is its first month.
Store-bought honey doesn’t contain the living lactic acid bacteria.
In fact that “honey” may even worsen the wound, as it is highly processed, making it no better than high fructose corn syrup, which is more likely to increase infection rather than heal it. Don’t use that honey for your pet’s topical wounds. Or of any human.
What honey can we use to treat a dog’s wound? Or a cat’s?
Here are some of the most popular products made of honey for wound management in humans and animals alike.
1. Medical Grade Manuka Honey
Manuka honey comes from the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium, which is a medicinal plant native to New Zealand. With UMF above 20+, or MGO above 400+ it is considered to be the best in healing a wound. (Case Studies showing the good results obtained using Medical Grade Manuka Honey as wound dressing.)
– Available on Amazon: Manukora Manuka Honey UMF 20+, 250g (8.8 oz)
or a cheaper one: Manuka Health – MGO 400+ Manuka Honey (20+), 100% Pure New Zealand Honey, 250 grams
– Amazon.co.uk sells specially made dressings called: Manuka Fill Sterile Wound Dressing 100% Pure Medical-grade Vet Recommended Dogs.
If you don’t know what UMF or MGO stand for, read this article first: Deciphering manuka honey: UMF15+, MGO400, 24+ Bio Active, KFactor16, TA. And LOTS OF FRAUDS.
2. Activon – Medical Grade Manuka Honey
The article Activon – a medical grade honey for wounds review describes how it works and offers a full review of the product. It is probably the cheapest of all the products made with manuka honey.
Buy from Amazon.com: Activon Medical Grade Manuka Honey 25g (Pack of 3) by Activon
or from Amazon.co.uk: Nitty 25 g Activon Medical Grade Manuka Honey
3. Aniwell products
Aniwell® is the Veterinary Pharmaceuticals division of Robin Pharmaceuticals Ltd and the brand under which the products FiltaBac, FiltaClear and Active Manuka Honey Anhydrous Cream 25% sit.
Amazon.co.uk sells Aniwell Active Manuka Honey 100G Tube and Aniwell – Manuka Honey Veterinary Wound Cream x 500g Tub.
Revamil is not made from manuka honey, but other medicinal plants, in closed greenhouses.
It’s a CE-marked, standardized medical grade honey produced by Bfactory Health Products BV, a company specialized in developing medical products with superior honey. It’s a topical antimicrobial agent for prevention or treatment of infections, including those caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria. (Here is a study showing its efficiency.)
You can find the product online, even on Amazon: Revamil Honey Balm Wound Ointment 15g.
It is a medical grade honey made from manuka honey and produced by Derma Sciences, Inc., Toronto, Ontario M1S 3S4, Canada. Derma Sciences has two manufacturing facilities, one in Toronto, Canada, and one in China, along with other contracts for manufacturing services for OEM and private label products.
More on Medihoney.
Medihoney is the global leading brand of wound care dressings made with Active Leptospermum Honey (manuka honey). An ideal solution for the management of hard to heal wounds and burns.
! It was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use on traumatic wounds, diabetic ulcers, and second-degree burns against normal skin flora but not necessarily against multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) infecting these wounds or its associated recovery and healing rate.
Here are some products available online: MEDIHONEY Wound Dressings, Medihoney Hydcol Pste 1.5 oz, (1 EACH, 1 EACH) which can be used for wound bed preparation and throughout all phases of wound healing.
If you cannot buy these products, for whatever the reasons, try using any other type of honey you have. Only make sure it is FRESH and RAW.
Other honeys with powerful antibiotic properties
Recent studies have shown that its antibiotic activity is very similar to other dark honeys: blueberry, buckwheat, chestnut, cotton, fire-weed, heather, jarrah, honeydew, linen vine, red gum, revanil, tualang, ulmo, sourwood, gelam. (according to Stefan Bogdanov, founder of the International Honey Commission, Muhlethurnen – PhD, Switzerland)
How to apply honey on a wound
If you buy the products mentioned above, you’ll find instructions on each of them. If you are using simply honey, then do the following:
First, trim or shave the hair surrounding the burn, wound, pressure sore or hot spot. If not, all the bacteria, pus and infection become trapped within the hair.
Some people recommend cleaning the area before applying honey. This is more required if you are treating a hot spot: use Povidone Iodine that most pharmacy’s or even supermarkets carry. Dilute a little of the Povidone Iodine with water to an ice tea color. Then use soft gauze to gently blot and clean the hot spot. Do this at least twice a day.
Apply honey of the wound and then a light bandage over the area. You can cover with a non-stick pad and wrap with gauze (not too tight). But you can also apply the honey directly to the non-stick pad and then wrap with gauze to keep in place.
Don’t allow your dog to lick or bother the area. An Elizabethan collar might be necessary for awhile.
Want some proves that it works?
• Here is a story of a homeless cat, who was named Manuka, found with an extensive soft tissue de-gloving wound to the left rear paw, a wound that had developed gangrene.
pictures source: healthypets.mercola.com
• Or, how was a dog’s wound healed with manuka honey:
picture source: http://www.newzealandhoneyshop.co.uk/manuka-honey-animals.html
• Horses’ legs are probably the most often wounded. In Australia and New Zealand there is a tradition in quickly healing them with manuka honey, or simply other fresh raw honey. The article: Trials on honey treatment for leg wounds in horses, published on horsemagazine.com, describes the experience of IAN NIELSEN in treating severe lower leg wounds in horses, with clear or raw honey, Manuka honey, with or without pretreatment with 3% hydrogen peroxide, and with occasional surgical removal of excess proud flesh or the judicial treatment with a cortisone cream.
The wounds that have been treated have been on all legs and have included heel bulb splits, open joint wounds, complete cannon strips (the so called deglove wounds) and deep lacerations over the knee and forearm and the hock and lower thigh.
The article has also tons of comments from people who have similar experiences with their animals.
“There was no apparent difference between ordinary clear honey or Manuka or raw honey. Claims have been made for Manuka and raw (cloudy) honey and I have used it on some wounds with good effect but have also used it on alternate dressings with clear honey and not seen any difference. Some of my clients swear by raw honey and their experience with their own horses have made them firm believers in the benefit of raw honey over plain “off the shelf” clear honey.”
picture source: http://www.horsemagazine.com/thm/2015/02/trials-on-honey-treatment-for-leg-wounds-in-horses/
• Lots of similar stories are available on the forum horseandhound.co.uk
• Or other successful story: veterinarypracticenews.com
• A study on Manuka Honey and wound healing at horses: The effect of manuka honey on second intention healing of contaminated and uncontaminated wounds on equine distal limbs‘, A.J. Dart et al, Proc. Australasian Equine Sc. Symp., Vol 3, 2012
• or other study: The effect of short- and long-term treatment with manuka honey on second intention healing of contaminated and noncontaminated wounds on the distal aspect of the forelimbs in horses.