Honey Used for Horse Wounds Should Be Medical Grade

Date Published: 05/08/2006
Date Reviewed/Revised: 05/12/2020

Horses have fairly thin skin for the size of the animal, so lacerations are common.  Numerous materials have been used to heal horse wounds and some aid in healing and many actually decrease healing.  One product that has shown promise in treating horses’ wounds is medical grade honey, which is different than the honey you have in your refrigerator for human consumption.  Medical grade honey has been sterilized by gamma radiation to eliminate any naturally occurring bacteria and it appears to improve healing rates in naturally sustained wounds. 

Dr. Gal Kelmer said in The Horse that veterinarians have seen improved healing after applying medical grade honey to wounds before suturing as decreased infection was noted at time of suture removal.  A study in which all veterinarians involved were to repair wounds in the normal manner except some were to apply medical grade honey in the wounds prior to suturing and the others were not.  The study involved 127 horses, 69 of which were treated with medical grade honey. Their lacerations were anywhere from 1 inch long to 15 inches long on multiple areas of the horse’s body.  The major difference in healing appeared to be due to the non-healing wounds developing infections and the fully healed wounds were not infected.  Results indicated 50% of the honey-treated horses healed completely while only 31% of the non-treated horses healed completely before suture removal.  Honey’s natural antibacterial properties likely contributed to the improved healing by warding off infections without the concern of antibiotic resistance developing as it appears bacteria do not develop resistance to medical grade honey.

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