Why I Feed Bee Pollen to my Dog

February 26, 2021

I'm sure many of you have heard about the wonders of bee pollen and how it can potentially help those of us with seasonal allergies. I actually purchased some bee pollen capsules from Now Brand a while back, with the intent being to try taking them in the Spring & Fall when I seem to always develop a nasty cough- to see if it would be of any help. But I never bothered trying them for myself because wearing a mask was good enough for me and seemed to prevent any sneezing fits and coughing frenzies when outside. 

Someone who didn't seem to have this good fortune was my puppy, Nolo.

Every single time we went outside, whether it be for a long walk or a quick potty break, my puppy would come back inside and continuously sneeze for the remainder of the day (& "reverse sneeze"- the type that sounds like they're choking, sneezing and coughing at the same time)! It even worried me at one point because the noises he would often make, made me think he might have kennel cough (& Googling really doesn't help anyone in situations like these), so that's when I reached out to my veterinarian. 

Luckily, it was not kennel cough and my vet explained that the sneezing is most likely due to all the pollen and general debris in the air. They likened it to our human "allergies" throughout Spring and Fall, and because our pooches don't regularly wear protective articles of clothing like we do (ie. a mask or facial scarf), then it would make sense for them to also be sneezing after being outdoors for any given period of time. 

That made sense to me. 

But would I be a true crazy dog mom if I didn't immediately think to myself, "Hmm I wonder if there's anything natural I can give him to help stop or curb the sneezing? Do they make dog nose boop-protector masks...👀?" 

Then I remembered the bee pollen! 
At this point, I went back and looked at a million and 1 raw food bowls posted by pawrents from all around the world, and noticed so many fed local bee pollen and raved about the benefits. I figured I ought to give it a try.

So here we are... after months of incorporating bee pollen into Nolo's meals (NOT for nutritional value, but more as a "supplement"), I have my thoughts on how efficacious I think it may be. But first, let's see what science has shown us thus far...

Bee pollen is commonly believed to have several beneficial effects on health, however, the oft-referenced medicinal effects of bee pollen products in general are often unsupported by systematic scientific evidence.

Let's discuss what current research concludes about the pharmacological and therapeutic effects of bee pollen in particular.

(Pascoal et al.)


“All the samples exhibited antimicrobial activity, Staphylococcus aureus being the most sensitive and Candida glabrata the most resistant of the microorganisms studied. All the samples exhibited antimutagenic activity, even though some samples were more effective in decreasing the number of gene conversion colonies and mutant colonies. Regarding the antioxidant activity, assessed using two methods, the most effective was sample B. The anti-inflammatory activity, assessed using the hyaluronidase enzyme, was highest in samples B and D.”


While no systematic conclusions about medicinal effects can be made from pharmacological analysis of 8 samples in-vitro, meaning not in a live organism, these results prove that the compounds found in bee pollen have therapeutic effects on their own. Whether those effects occur to a significant degree once administered to an animal and ingested is another discussion.

(Akko et al.)


“HBM did not show any significant gastroprotective activity in a single administration at 250 mg/kg dose, whereas a weak activity was observed after three days of successive administration at 500 mg/kg dose. On the other hand, HBM displayed significant antinociceptive (p <0.01) and anti-inflammatory (p <0.01) activities at 500 mg/kg dose orally without inducing any apparent acute toxicity or gastric damage. HBM was also shown to possess potent antilipidperoxidant activity (p <0.01) at 500 mg/kg dose against acetaminophen-induced liver necrosis model in mice. On the other hand, pure honey did not exert any remarkable antinociceptive, anti-inflammatory and gastroprotective activity, but a potent antilipidperoxidant activity (p <0.01) was determined.”


Now looking at the in-vivo effects of bee pollen in mice, rather than just in-vitro effects, we see some overlap in therapeutic impacts. The bee pollen mix used in this study has comparative contents to the bee pollen used in previous studies, however, it must be noted that some differences will be attributed to different sources/contents of bee pollen, which depends heavily on region and flower species the pollen is extracted from. 

With that being said, this study confirms the anti-inflammatory effects of bee pollen through prostaglandin-inhibition found in previous in-vitro studies. Other medicinal effects in this study were not found or tested in the prior study, however altogether there seems to be some evidence of a wide range of health benefits found to be statistically significant across both studies.

(Kocot et al.)


“The aforementioned in vitro and animal studies seem to confirm the usefulness of using bee products (propolis, bee pollen, and royal jelly) as natural agents capable of counteracting the effects of oxidative stress underlying the pathogenesis of numerous diseases or disorders, such as neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, as well as negative effects of different harmful factors and drugs (e.g., cytostatic agents). However, studies on their role in humans are very limited, and the existing ones have aimed mostly at evaluating the effect of the supplementation of commercially available extracts of propolis or royal jelly in healthy people or type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, in the available literature, there is a lack of studies considering this issue in the context of neurodegenerative disorders or cancers, although promising results were obtained in animal studies. This may result from the fact that particular samples of bee products may have different compositions, so it is difficult to draw a general conclusion concerning their potential therapeutic application without a detailed chemical analysis.”


Finally, we take a look at this article which extensively reviewed the literature available on the therapeutic effects of bee pollen and other well known bee products as of May 2018

The full text reviewed the composition, antioxidant capacity, chemotherapy side effect mitigation, protection against pro-oxidant toxicity, and use in cosmetics, of bee pollen, using findings from experimental studies. This specific article encapsulates the discussion from the previous studies we looked at, which displayed encouraging findings, but only within limited scopes.

How do these pharmacological properties hold up in human consumption? 

What pollen species are best for each desired effect? 

So far, there is not enough (published) evidence out right now, with appropriate controls, to show that commercial sources of bee pollen have significant health benefits on humans, or even dogs. 

Does that mean bee pollen has no therapeutic effect beyond its nutritional value? 

No, based on the science, we can simply say we do not have enough evidence to demonstrate that it definitively does. And there is nothing scientific, pointing to any negative effects of bee pollen use, so for all intents and purposes, using bee pollen to supplement one’s diet appears to be scientifically advisable.

As for my personal experience when introducing it in my dog's meals, I have observed nothing but positive results! 

I started off by sprinkling a very TINY amount of bee pollen from the Now Brand capsules I had because I did not have locally sourced granules on hand. From there, each day, I monitored Nolo's response to the addition of the bee pollen in his diet, then gradually added a bit more with his breakfast each day, until I was able to feed the "recommended serving size" for a pup his size. I then switched over to using my locally sourced bee pollen granules once I picked some up at a local farmer's market!

In terms of how much you should be feeding, I have seen different recommendations:
1. Feed 1 tsp per 50-60 lbs of dog's weight
2. Feed 1 tsp per 30 lbs of dog's weight

I initially followed the feeding guidelines of the latter- 1tsp/30lbs when Nolo weighed much less, but now that he is practically fully grown, I actually have not increased his bee pollen intake past 1/2 tsp since he's a touch over 30 lbs and I have had great success thus far (a full teaspoon just seemed like too much for him)! I find that in feeding the bee pollen, I saw an immediate change in Nolo- he would no longer sneeze or sound like he was wheezing after we came back inside. This was a win in my book!

I do not feed bee pollen with every meal, every single day.
During the warmer months, I would say Nolo gets bee pollen with breakfast (he is fed 2x daily) 4-5x a week. In winter, while it's not completely necessary, I will sometimes feed a little here and there, maybe just 1x/week or sometimes 2x/week.

*2023 UPDATE*
My adult dogs are fed once daily and I feed both dogs bee pollen maybe 4x a week from the beginning of spring, into the warmer months. During winter, I still pull back on the amount of bee pollen fed, as there are no more active clouds of pollen accosting us.

What nutrients are present in bee pollen?

Below you will find a chart from the Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture, displaying the mineral content of honeybee-collected pollen, but remember that just because these nutrients may be present in the pollen, it does not mean 100% of these nutrients will be bioavailable and readily absorbed when fed to your cat or dog.

Do not rely on feeding bee pollen to meet essential nutrient requirements for your cats and dogs.

Does it matter whether or not my bee pollen is locally sourced?

Well, to keep it short & simple, seasonal allergies/allergies are an autoimmune response and can be linked to various species of flora. Chances are, you (or your pet) could be reacting to the pollen from a particular species or multiple species of flora native or commonly grown in your area. Locally sourced bee pollen would be the pollen gathered from those species native and commonly grown in the region in which you reside, thus making it most beneficial compared to a generic bee pollen supplement. 

Just remember, bee pollen and even allergy medicine (for humans) DOES NOT and are not meant to be used to PREVENT allergies in the first place! Their benefit lies in their potential ability to help relieve, and to some extent, prevent the SYMPTOMS of said allergy from being so severe that it is impeding your quality of life. 

Incorporating something like local bee pollen can aid in alleviating some of the frustrating symptoms that are tied to having seasonal allergies, but to claim bee pollen is a cure or will prevent said allergies, is inaccurate & medically false. 

Hope this helps those of you who have been wondering whether or not feeding bee pollen to your perts would be worth it!

Please consult physicians/veterinarians, and/or other trustworthy science-based sources for advice on human and animal dietary questions.

Follow me on instagram @nolorlin for more raw-feeding content & recipes!


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