Honey is a bacteria-killing power house.
Since ancient times, honey has been used to prevent wounds from getting infected. To learn more about the wonderful powers of honey, check out the Honey: Bacteria’s Worst Enemy video.
Every time Jasmine had surgery, she came home with a prescription of antibiotics. They were all major surgeries, I think it makes sense to be proactive in preventing serious infections.
Preventing wound infections without antibiotics
When JD had his mast cell tumor surgery, he was not put on antibiotics.
On one hand, I was glad because I like to use antibiotics as sparingly as possible and I like that our vet thinks the same way. He had a relatively large hole at the site of the tumor and incision on his chest where they harvested skin for his graft.
The original plan was to keep the wound open to the air, just preventing JD from licking it. JD, of course, had other plans, in spite of the fashionable cone he was sporting.
The second day post-surgery
The second day after surgery, I felt his wound was starting to smell funny.
I still didn’t want to start antibiotics if I didn’t have to but I was worried about infection. Particularly since the wound was relatively deep – skin and fascia removed all the way to tendons and muscle. I contacted our vet and asked whether we should try some raw honey. We still had some raw Manuka honey at home since Cookie’s paw pad cut.
We used honey on Cookie’s cut and never needed antibiotics even though the cut was relatively deep and vets often do prescribe antibiotics for that as well.
That was the first time I’ve tried that, at the advice of one of my veterinary friends.
JD’s vet agreed that it was a good plan so we started the honey treatment on JD’s wound. It carried us through the entire healing process and the wound never got infected. We covered it lightly with a sock just to keep the honey in place. We changed the sock and re-applied the honey three times a day.
The use of honey for wound management dates back many centuries.
How does honey do it?
Anti-bacterial properties of honey are due to a complex interplay of its various components. Sugar had been used as well but it seems honey, particularly Manuka honey, can do a better job. Honey can keep away infection as well as reduce inflammation and facilitate the healing process.
I wouldn’t try using any ol’ honey from a store. Some of these can have relatively low antibacterial activity and can be contaminated by pathogenic organisms.
We used raw Manuka honey and had very good results with it.
While antibacterial ointments are readily available, it would still mean antibiotics. I prefer to avoid those and I’m happy with how the honey worked both times.
Of course, I wouldn’t use anything without discussing it with our vet first. But she thought it was a good idea and considering the results it was.
Honey Heals: The Sweet Side of Wound Care