High Desert Equine - Mobile Veterinary Servicing Reno and Northern Nevada High Desert Equine, Reno Nevada horse image  
  HIgh Desert Equine Mobile Veterinary Servicing Reno and Northern Nevada


"Building healthy partners"

Healing with Honey

horse image  

Return to Home Page about us
Medicine and Clinics
Lameness and Prepurchase Exam
Mare & Foal
Horse Health Articles

   Member AAEP   American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Pet Folio Magazine

Heifer International



Healing with Honey

Wounds, especially those located below the knee or hock, are notorious sources of frustration for horse owners and veterinarians alike. Understanding how wounds heal is the first step in designing an appropriate wound management plan; choosing a wound dressing that supports the body’s healing mechanisms is second.

1) Immediately after a wound occurs, the body begins its own clean up process. White blood cells migrate into the wound to eliminate foreign material, dead tissue and infectious agents. These cells exit the wound as pus. PUS IS A NORMAL, HEALTHY RESPONSE TO A WOUND IN THE FIRST FEW DAYS. It is important to keep the wound environment moist in this early healing period.

2) Once the wound environment is clean, and dead tissue has been removed, the next healing phase involves rebuilding tissue. The body builds a scaffold of collagen, and delicate new skin cells and blood vessels climb along this framework, repairing the wound defect. During this phase, the wound should be protected from invasion by secondary bacteria, and inflammation should be minimized.

3) Finally, the body spends a long time (months in severe wounds) strengthening and remodeling the fragile young tissue that has filled the wound. Now it is important to keep the tissue pliable and soft with emollient substances like lanolin.

Our job is to enhance the cleaning and restructuring phases to decrease time to wound closure, improve cosmetic outcome, and avoid problems with exuberant granulation tissue (proud flesh) and wound infection. This is where honey can be uniquely useful. Honey is a biologic wound dressing; while each of its beneficial properties can be found individually in pharmaceutical products, only in honey are they all present together working in cooperation to enhance healing while maintaining a moist wound environment.

How does honey work? The high sugar content of honey draws water out of wounds and reduces edema (fluid swelling). Honey is slightly acidic, which inhibits bacterial growth and acts with the high sugar content to pull water out of bacterial cells. Honey from Manuka trees in New Zealand has additional unique properties. Researchers at the University of Sydney studying the efficacy of Manuka honey in equine wound healing reported that Manuka honey treated wounds had healthier tissue regrowth, which they believe is related not only to its unique antibacterial effects of the honey, but also to Manuka honey’s positive influence on the horse’s immune system.

All types of honey possess beneficial wound healing qualities. The antibacterial activity of most honey’s is due to the presence of hydrogen peroxide, which can be inactivated by enzymes normally present in the healing wound. In contrast, the antibacterial component of manuka honey is a small water-soluble molecule, methylglyoxal, that diffuses easily through the wound environment, and is resistant to enzymatic degradation. This compound also penetrates the biofilm which forms in wounds, protecting bacteria from the action of many systemic and topical antimicrobial agents. Finally, Manuka honey is available in sterile, medical grade preparations. Non-medical grade honey often harbors bacteria that are not dangerous when used for food consumpution, but which can colonize wounds causing secondary bacterial infections. For all of these reasons, medical grade Manuka honey products are the safest, most effective choice for wound treatment.

We recently used Manuka honey on this chronically infected hoof following a hoof wall resection. The healing of the disrupted coronary band was rapid and the integrity of the coronary band was completely restored.


© Reno Custom Web.com

Emergency Vet
(775) 742-2823
Email us at

Dr.Collatos Interactive Vet Blog

Face Book Link for Chrysann Collatos VMD

Dr. Collatos bandaging alpaca

ABOVE--Dr. C performing the first post-operative bandage change on Tyme, a 7 month old cria just back from surgery performed by Dr. Erika Little to correct a severe angular limb deformity. Dr. Collatos performed an initial evaluation of this cria, at which time these radiographs were obtained. She then consulted with Dr. Huber, a surgeon at Oregon State University who has a great deal of experience treating this condition. Dr. Huber, in turn, shared his recommendations for treatment with Dr. Little at Great Basin Equine in Minden. After the three veterinary heads spent some time together, Kay Rodriguez transported Tyme to Great Basin where she underwent surgery in which Dr. Little applied a plate to one side of the abnormally growing bone to reduce growth, while removing a wedge of constricting bone from the other side to allow compensatory growth. Tyme returned home from the hospital the following day for follow up care with Dr. Collatos. This type of interaction among veterinary specialists is what keeps the quality of medicine we offer at High Desert Veterinary Service cutting edge.


PO BOX 60730
RENO NV 89506

EMERGENCY (775) 742-2823      OFFICE (775) 969-3495

FAX (775) 969-3923