Liquid Gold

Anyone who has faced the challenge of nurturing a dog with allergies understands the anxiety that goes along with it. It’s like having a child with a peanut allergy. Odds are that child will have other allergies or ailments—and so will your dog.

With kids, you have a slightly better chance of keeping them from eating small particles off the sidewalk, and since they eventually learn to speak, they can at least tell you when things aren’t right. Not to mention the fact that there are endless options to control allergic reactions in people. This is largely unexplored territory for dogs—whose allergies can cause them to chew at their bodies with such ferocity that they end up with open wounds from obsessively scratching that itch. 

Imagine my consternation when I was faced with a dog who notoriously finds her way into every allergic situation imaginable. Lexie can go from zero to sixty in less than a second if a Cheeto hits the floor. She loves bugs—and she gets stung a lot.  She’s even managed to roll around in not one wasp nest, but two!

I’m terrified that one of these days these stings will send her spiraling into full-on anaphylactic shock. As a result, I’ve spent hours researching natural solutions.  When I was told to give my dog honey as an antidote, I almost laughed. Could these little hairy flying wonder bugs whose stings can be so lethal, also create a magic elixir to ease Lexie’s ailments?

Honey, it turns out, is liquid gold. It’s the only food in the world that will not go bad, although it does crystallize over time. It is apparently packed with both antiviral and antibacterial goodness—and, some say it has many healing properties.

One holistic veterinarian suggested I give Lexie one teaspoon of honey daily. “Take a teaspoon yourself while you’re at it,” he added. He recommended raw honey, ideally from within about 30 kilometres of home. The science is inconclusive, but practitioners like my vet believe that raw, unpasteurized honey helps support immune function and can ease environmental allergies. Call it a natural allergy shot; by consuming local honey, both dogs and people may develop some immunity to local pollens.

The vet told me to be patient and keep up with the routine. He’s seen many dogs who have benefited over the long haul from this daily honey regimen. I left excited about the idea and then a little daunted. How on earth would I find local bee honey in the middle of my city?

The more research I did, the more intrigued I became—and the more concerned. Bee populations around the world are starting to succumb to hive failure and collapse. While there is much speculation as to why—pesticides, loss of habitat, environmental degradation—there are few answers. Without bees to pollinate our crops, our food chain could be affected and this golden wonder drug could become scarce. The predictions are pretty ominous.

It was with renewed optimism that I learned about one dynamic individual who is doing his part to save the bees from extinction. Fred Davis of Fred D’s Bees is an urban beekeeper who has been working hard on bee education for many years. He’s brought urban hives to many of my city’s landmark properties and he’s the man behind Canada’s first-ever hive-share program.

An urban bee share is similar to a vegetable share from a farm. While contributing to the growth of the city’s bee population, shareowners enjoy special access to local, raw, healthy honey. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

I’ve decided to join a beehive share, and use all the raw honey it provides for everyone in our household—dogs included. I’ll supplement with raw honey from a beekeeper up north.

Ironically, these once-threatening flying monsters have turned into my furry little helpers. It’s early days on a long and hopeful road, but one thing’s for sure: we all look forward to our daily spoonful of honey.