Bee products, including bee pollen, have long been praised for having many health benefits. It has been touted as anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, an immune system strengthener, and more. It has been shown to reduce symptoms for a surprising number and wide range of conditions, from allergies to arthritis to even menopause!
With all the benefits bee pollen can provide, you have to wonder: If it’s good for us, could it also be good for our canine friends? Turns out it can!
Read on to discover what bee pollen is, the potential benefits of bee pollen for your dog, how to feed bee pollen to your dog, and safety precautions.
What is bee pollen?
With all the bee products being marketed out there – honey, raw honey, bee propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen – it can certainly get confusing! It’s important to note that they are not all the same. Bee pollen is a mixture of nectar, enzymes, honey, wax, bee secretions, and pollen from flowers a bee has visited. This mixture sticks to a bee’s legs as it moves from plant to plant, and eventually gets carried back to the hive, where the colony uses it for food.
But bee pollen isn’t just great for bees! Did you know that bee pollen is a very nutritious and high-protein food that is full of vitamins and minerals? It is a source of vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C, D and E, as well as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium and more! In fact, it has a reputation as nature’s “perfect food” due to its nutritional profile.
There are no foods that contain bee pollen – to receive its benefits, we must go straight to the source! The only way to get bee pollen is to harvest it from the bees. Bee pollen is packaged in various forms and can be purchased at health food retailers both locally and online.
What are the benefits of bee pollen for dogs?
The list of potential benefits from regularly supplementing with bee pollen are quite astounding! The benefits have of course been studied in humans, but also in animals including horses, mice, cats and dogs.
- Anti-inflammatory: Bee pollen has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties for humans and animals alike. A 2010 study found that bee pollen showed “potent anti-inflammatory activity” in a group of rats. It has even been found to have anti-inflammatory properties comparable to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like naproxen! If your dog has sore joints or muscles, he may benefit from a supplement of bee pollen.
- Allergy-fighting: Environmental allergies are on the rise in dogs, with a 7% increase from 2008 to 2018. If your dog suffers from allergies, she may get some relief if you include bee pollen in her diet. Some suggest that you look for locally harvested bee pollen in order to stimulate your dog’s immune system and provide some immunity to your local pollens. Because your dog might be allergic to some of the pollen in the product you choose, it’s important to start with small doses with advice from your vet to avoid a potentially severe allergic reaction. Note that bee pollen is not considered a remedy for food allergies in dogs.
- Immunity-boosting: Bee pollen has anti-bacterial properties that make it a good supplement for immune system support. This can prevent your dog from catching infections, or at least make symptoms less severe if your dog catches something. Bee pollen is also high in antioxidants, which have been shown to protect against free radical damage.
- Digestive health: Bee pollen can improve gut health for your dog. First of all, it has enzymes that can help digestion and help your dog get all the intended benefits from other foods that she eats. Since it’s also anti-microbial, it can help clear pathogens out of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
- Urinary health: Bee pollen is an alkaline food, meaning it balances the pH in the body. This can contribute to a healthier urinary tract, keeping your dog free of painful and dangerous urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Arthritis: Bee pollen is high in rutin, a flavonoid that has been shown to be as effective as medication in relieving arthritis pain and improving joint function. It can be hard to get the benefits from rutin through a regular diet because of its low bioavailability, but since bee pollen is already partially digested by the bees, it can get into the bloodstream more quickly, be absorbed by the body and start providing benefits more easily.
- Cancer-fighting: Last but not least – bee pollen could help fight cancer! Bee pollen may seem like a new-age fad without much scientific backing, but its benefits have been studied for decades. A 1948 study added bee pollen to the diet of mice who had been bred specifically to grow tumors. They found that mice in the bee pollen group developed cancer almost ten weeks later than those in the control group, and some of the mice even became tumor-free.
How do I give bee pollen to my dog?
Bee pollen is sold as granules or in capsule form. Be sure to purchase your bee pollen from a reputable retailer, and try to find a local seller if your dog is suffering from environmental allergies. Or better yet, ask your vet for a recommendation.
Always be sure to follow the dosing instructions and not to overdo it – don’t give your dog too much of a good thing!
Is bee pollen safe for dogs?
Overall, bee pollen is considered to be very safe. However, there are a few precautions.
- Bee pollen can stimulate the immune system, it’s important not to feed it to puppies, whose immune systems haven’t fully developed yet, or immunocompromised dogs of any age.
- Start small! Research the dosage for your dog’s size and start with the smallest dose. If there is no reaction, work up gradually each day to the recommended dose.
- As with any supplement, don’t start giving bee pollen to your dog without talking to your vet first! Supplements are like any other changes, like starting your dog on an exercise program or switching his food, which you should discuss with your vet.
While there has not been a huge amount of research done on bee pollen specifically for dogs, the studies that have been done show promising results for alleviating a variety of conditions and improving your dog’s overall health. If you’re curious, why not try it and see what it does for your dog? You have nothing to lose, and it could prove to be the gateway to greatly improved health for your best friend.