Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He works mostly with dogs and exotic animals.
Vinegar was used by health practitioners long before the introduction of our modern medicines. Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed it. Roman soldiers knew about it and mixed it with their water.
It is not a new method of taking care of canine health issues, but for many, it is unheard of. Even a natural dog practitioner like Bruce Fogle does not mention vinegar in his book Natural Dog Care, despite discussing traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, and even Bach remedies.
Since drug companies cannot patent this product and make a profit out of marketing, research projects have not been funded and the veterinary colleges do not include courses about the use of apple cider vinegar.
So should you be giving it to your dog? Is apple cider vinegar (ACV) any good? I think so, and I will give you some good reasons to try it.
How Can ACV Help Dogs?
There is no good data available, but ACV users claim that it:
1. Makes their dog's immune system stronger. This is very hard to prove or disprove but if it is true, ACV may help fight off some infections that you were never aware of.
2. Helps with the prevention of fleas. There are reports of this product working very well if sprayed on the coat like regular vinegar. Put it in a spray bottle and apply to the coat after bathing but be sure to avoid the eyes.
3. Controls and eliminates intestinal parasites. To work in this way, ACV has to be added to the drinking water.
4. Keeps the coat in good condition and is especially useful for dogs with dry, itchy coats. ACV is sprayed directly onto the coat.
5. Prevents the development of bladder and kidney stones.
6. Relieves arthritis symptoms. It is recommended that you soak a washrag in ACV and apply it directly over the affected joint.
7. It is definitely useful for cleaning the ears. Unlike regular vinegar, ACV would not need to be diluted with water and, unlike white vinegar, may also be effective in the control and treatment of ear mites.
There are many other claims that I have not been able to authenticate in any way.
Cautions When Using ACV on Your Dog
ACV is a little less acidic than regular vinegar, with a pH of 4.25 to 5, and the most popular ACV for treating dogs is made from organic apples that are aged in wooden barrels. It has a dark substance at the bottom, called the “mother”, and this is where part of the beneficial minerals are contained.
Just because a product is organic does not mean that it is totally safe.
One of the proponents of apple cider vinegar, author and dog trainer Wendy Volhard (author of “Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog”), recommends it be used daily but also suggests dog owners check the urine pH to make sure it is not becoming too acidic. If the urine is 7.5 or higher when you check it the diet is too alkaline and your dog will benefit from the addition of the acidic ACV. If the urine becomes too acidic (less than 6.2) you should give it less often. Very acidic urine can damage your dog.
According to holistic practitioners, fleas, ticks, skin bacteria, and skin parasites do not survive well on acidic skin. Many of the other health benefits may be due to the change in pH.
How to Use ACV on Your Dog
Many methods of ACV use simply require you to add a tablespoon of it to your dog's water bowl. (Note: For small dogs use only one teaspoon. I have read a few anecdotal reports of vomiting after adding this product, so you may want to add a small amount the first few days and make sure she adapts to it with no problems.)
You can also add it to her food if you prefer. (This also may be more effective if your dog does not like the taste of the vinegar in her water.)
If the ACV is being used for fleas or itchy skin, apply it directly to the coat. If your dog is arthritic and you are giving this product a try, just put some right over the painful joint or joints.
If even one of these benefits is true, the product is well worth the cost. If you decide to try it, be sure to buy unpasteurized vinegar that still has sediment visible at the bottom; this type is labeled “mother of vinegar”.
(The regular vinegar you can purchase in stores can be used to clean the ears and control fleas but does not improve components of the dog's health in the same way as ACV.)
There are a lot of potential benefits to the products and almost no reasons not to try it. Purchase the small bottle first and see how you like it. If you are pleased, I encourage you to also read articles about the potential health benefits for humans. You may want to purchase a larger quantity at that time.
If you do use it and find it beneficial (or a waste of money) please leave a comment.
Questions & Answers
Question: Can I give my dog capsules of apple cider vinegar?
Answer: Add a teaspoon of ACV to your dog's water each day. It will be dilute and even if you have forced it on your dog in the past he will not likely taste it.
The capsules are not the same product.
Question: How much apple cider vinegar should I give my 70 lb dog?
Answer: The best way to supplement with ACV is to put it in the drinking water. For a large dog, you should add about a tablespoon each day. If you notice that your dog does not like the taste, and is not drinking, you need to add it to the food so that they continue to drink.
If you are adding it to the food, give one tablespoon per day.
Question: Can ACV be given by syringe into the mouth? If so what is the dosage?
Answer: You could, but I do not think it would be a good idea. ACV is acidic, and your dog might let you shove it down her throat for awhile but I think she would eventually object. Maybe she would even bite.
If giving it in the water, the recommended dose is about one teaspoonfull to the water. If you are going to give it by a syringe, this would equal 5cc. Please do not give your dog that much directly into her mouth. 1cc would be the most I would recommend, and even then your dog might not like it.
Question: Can I apply apple cider vinegar on my dog's belly if she has ringworm?
Answer: You can use it for ringworm just like you do when treating a yeast infection. Give her a bath first to remove most of the fungus then apply a spray of ACV to kill what is left.
It is also a good idea to treat the area with coconut oil. Here are further directions on natural treatment for yeast:
© 2012 Dr Mark
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 26, 2018:
Ambika, if your dog´s ears were scratched up when you applied the ACV it can be pretty painful. The only way you can get him used to being handled again is to use positive reinforcemet methods, and take it very gradually. (Call him over to you, touch his ear, give him a treat and lots of praise. That is it for now. Do not treat or examine the ear. Do the same thing later in the day, the next day, etc.) After he is used to being touched you can resume cleaning, but only with a dilute solution, and only if the inner ears are not scratched up.
Ambika on September 26, 2018:
Hi Dr Mark, thanks for the tips! I have tried this method. My dog was ok when i was applying the drops but after that he didnt let me to touch his ears. I am worried. can i repeat cleaning using the solution?
Oggie on July 18, 2014:
I've been giving it to my dog who has problems with regurgitation, and ACV has been very effective in eliminating this.
Michael A Muehleisen from Miami,FL on January 12, 2014:
I use Bragg's ACV in my Mike's Health Cocktail . I have been taking this for over 3 years and have lost over 30 lbs, and feel great. I am going to try putting some ACV in my dog's water. Good hub. https://discover.hubpages.com/health/Mikes-Health-...
AB on October 16, 2013:
My geriatric dog has sludge in his gall bladder (more than 80%). Since he also has pancreatitis, drugs like ursodiol are not recommended. Would ACV help in removing his gallbladder sludge? I'd appreciate any advice. Thanks.
Amanda on September 17, 2013:
ACV is amazing for Dogs!
Mary Craig from New York on July 21, 2013:
Sometimes home remedies are the best but as you say, all things in moderation. Small dogs are susceptible to skin problems and anything that might help is worth a try.
Voted up, useful, and interesting.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 12, 2012:
Do you know what kind of allergies she has? (Is this Peanut?) I have another article on allergies that might help.
Sypsey on August 12, 2012:
Good information. We have a dog with allergies and this may help, so many chemical things seem to make it worse. Voted up.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 11, 2012:
Bragg (one of the companies that sells raw organic ACV) has a web site that may help you with the arthritis, too, if you want to try their alternative therapy.
Thanks for following. It is great to have you!
Charlu from Florida on August 11, 2012:
Love this hub and the other one for allergies with the raw honey. I am going to try both not only for my dogs but myself also. I am older and have arthritis pretty bad. Thank you so much and you now have a new devoted follower.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 09, 2012:
A good point, which is why we must live by "all things in moderation". This product looks good but users must not give more than the recommended dose (1tsp for a small dog) and also keep track of the urine pH to decide if they are using too much.
DoItForHer on July 09, 2012:
On Dr. Drew's Life Changers a lady sent in some home remedys. One was to drink 2 tablespoons Bragg's apple cider vinegar with mother when you feel a cold, flu, or allergies coming on. She actually drank a shot of vinegar without the 'technicolor yawn'! Impressive. Dr. Drew said that was too acidic and could damage her teeth and encourage esophogial cancer. When the lady slammed the shot, she gagged; Drew said that the gagging was a good sign to not do that. lol
A grade school teacher related a story to my class many moons ago. A friend of his had a horse with an ailment. The vet said to give the horse some vinegar once a day. (I want to say a quart, but it was so long ago that I can't remember. It seemed to be fair amount.)
Anyhoo, the dude figured, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander!" and began the regiment for himself- at the same dose as a 900 pound animal!
His teeth rotted out.
I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the last story, but stuff like that does happen. More often than you probably think.
I'm not against home remedies at all; I believe they are overlooked too often and we then rely on synthetic stuff, which often has negative side effects associated with it. But there's a lot of snake oil out there and we often fool ourselves into swearing by certain remedies that at best do no harm, but too often end up causing damage.
A person I know gives her 35 pound dog a full 200 mg tablet of ibuprofen if he is feeling under the weather. She is going to kill that dog, but you can't tell her any different.
I support home remedies, but make an objective, informed decision not one that simply 'feels right' or has some abstract amount of 'truthiness'.
Just because your pappy, your grand-pappy, and your great grand-pappy all swear by a certain remedy, does not definitively make it a sound remedy.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 09, 2012:
Thanks for coming by and let me know if this works out for your JRT. wetnosedogs, have you tried the ACV in your dogs´water?
Pikkles from Gloversville, New York on July 09, 2012:
I have a Jack Russell that has suffered with a skin disorder all her 10 yrs. I have tried all kinds of remedies that I have researched online and nothing seems to help. I have read a little bit about the benefits of ACV for humans but this is the first time I've read about its benefits for dogs. Interesting....I may try a little in her food, at this point it can't hurt.
Thanks... And thanks for reading my first hub and sending me my first fan mail. I tried to send you one but the window flew right past me and disappeared. I couldn't figure out how to get it back.
wetnosedogs from Alabama on July 08, 2012:
I had tried ACV when I first heard of its benefits, spraying it on my dogs. However, my allergic dog didn't agree with it. She would probably be better off having a sip of it in water. But that's my dog. I still believe the ACV is splendid for health benefits.
How to Bathe a Dog in Apple Cider Vinegar
You do not have to visit pet stores for expensive shampoos and flea repellants. Apple cider vinegar has many properties used for washing, refreshing, relieving hotspots, soothing dry, itchy skin, and even to stop your dog from licking his skin or paws incessantly. In the bath or out of the bath, apple cider vinegar can also be used to clean out your dog’s ears and help prevent or assist in healing a yeast infection. Giving your dog an apple cider bath is easy to do and can benefit your dog externally as well as internally. When used in the water or even a spray bottle, apple cider vinegar can also help to repel fleas.
The soothing enzymes in apple cider vinegar can provide comfort for your dog’s skin unless the skin is broken. If your dog has irritated hot spots or itchy flea bites that are open, dilute the apple cider vinegar to avoid a stinging sensation. Also, remember a treat or two never hurt during or after a much-needed bath.
Apple Cider Vinegar Remedy for Conjunctivitis in Pets
Apple cider vinegar is Earth Clinic's most popular home remedy for conjunctivitis (eye infection) in pets. Our readers have used this remedy for their dogs and cats. Many have been astonished that something so simple and inexpensive cured their pet's eye infection so quickly.
Is Vinegar Safe for Dogs?
The quick answer: Vinegar may not be entirely safe for your dog.
Many pet owners incorporate diluted apple cider or white vinegar into their dog’s diet and bathing regimens because of its claimed ability to heal, clean, and neutralize odors. However, administering vinegar to your pet is not considered an ideal solution to any health ailments or cleaning needs your pet may have.
While some dogs can safely consume diluted vinegar, it’s important to be aware that many dogs do not react well. Vinegar can cause gastrointestinal upset when ingested — especially when undiluted. This is especially true for small dogs, dogs with sensitive stomachs, dogs with kidney disease, and any dog that is otherwise not 100% healthy. Gastrointestinal upset typically presents as diarrhea and vomiting, which not only causes pain and discomfort to your pet but can also lead to dehydration.
For all the above reasons, you’ll find that many veterinarians do not advocate the usage of vinegar.
Can I Still Use it at Home?
Typically, vinegar is greatly diluted when used to clean your home and, as such, shouldn’t negatively affect your pet if they get a little on their paws or fur. That said, if you notice your dog actively licking the floor after mopping with a vinegar solution, though, you may want to switch to a different cleaning agent, or close your dog off in a separate room while you clean. The same is true if you notice a correlation between your dog getting ill after you use a vinegar solution around the home.
As for using vinegar for baking and cooking, you’re good to go. Just make sure your dog doesn’t chow down on that salad with a homemade vinaigrette and be sure to wipe up any drops of vinegar that land on your counter or floor.
Misinformation on Vinegar
There’s not much scientific literature out there that points to vinegar’s benefits when consumed by dogs. There’s also, unfortunately, quite a bit of misinformation being perpetuated online and by non-professionals. Further proof that vinegar is not well-suited for dog consumption is the typical reaction pet owners get from their pooch when trying to feed it to them: they refuse to ingest it.
Curious about what is okay and not okay for your dog to eat? Check out our comprehensive guide on what human foods are safe and not safe for dogs.
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1. The Fix for Itchy Paws
When dogs have itchy paws, it’s only natural that they would try to relieve themselves from the pain. However, in this process, they might end up making the itch worse. It’s is your duty to help them out. What can you do? Use apple cider vinegar.
For itchy paws, ACV’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties come into play. ACV is sure to relieve the dog from the irritation.
How to use it?
For this treatment, soak the affected area of the dog’s skin in a solution of ACV and water. Use 1 part of apple cider vinegar and 2 parts of water. You will need to put this solution in a large bowl. Once your solution is ready, dip your pet’s paw in it for 5 minutes. After this is complete, thoroughly dry your dog’s paw, don’t rinse it. Do this once or twice daily until your dog shows signs of being relieved.