Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs Is Rapidly Increasingly In Popularity.
But What Can It Be Used For? And Does It Actually Work?
We’ve Taken A Close Look At Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs In Lots Of Different Scenarios.
And Discovered The Answered To That All Important Question – Should You Be Using Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs?
Apple cider vinegar has been a popular home remedy for generations.
In this article we find out whether apple cider vinegar can benefit our canine pals as well.
We’ll find out what dog owners use it for, whether there’s any scientific backing for giving your dog apple cider vinegar, and whether it can ever be harmful for your dog.
Apple cider vinegar and your dog
It’s easy to see how apple cider became a popular cure-all.
The raw ingredients are cheap and plentiful.
It’s easy to make, and it lasts forever in the cupboard.
Whether you’re thrifty by choice or necessity, when you have something that meets all those criteria, you want to see how hard you can make it work!
Plus, it just sounds so simple.
In a wholesome, mindful-living way, and in a pleasingly low-effort, lazy way too.
Choosing apple cider vinegar for your dog
You may have already been using it in salad dressings for years, but have you ever really thought about where apple cider vinegar comes from or how it’s made?
Apple cider vinegar is brewed using yeast and bacteria to turn the sugars in apple juice into alcohol, and then into acetic acid.
Acetic acid is the pungent sour taste we think of as “vinegary”.
Then manufacture goes in one of two directions: either the vinegar is filtered and pasteurized (this is the stuff we usually find in grocery stores), or it’s left raw: unfiltered and unpasteurized.
Raw cider vinegar is often advertized as still containing the “mother”.
Mother of vinegar is a cobweb-like substance formed of yeast and bacteria from the fermentation process, and small quantities of cellulose and proteins.
It gives vinegar a cloudy appearance, and according to manufacturers who promote apple cider vinegar as a health supplement, it’s the best bit.
Apple cider vinegar for dogs’ health
We’ve been finding new uses for vinegar since at least 400BC, but not many uses for apple cider vinegar have been backed up by science.
In humans we know that apple cider vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity after a meal.
This study from Arizona State University is just one in recent years exploring the parameters of how apple cider vinegar could help people with diabetes.
There’s also a small amount of evidence that consuming apple cider vinegar with meals makes us feel fuller for longer, which could help people lose weight.
And moving outside humans, researchers in Japan have found that acetic acid reduces blood pressure in rats.
Are there apple cider vinegar benefits for dogs?
However remedies in humans or rats don’t necessarily translate in dogs.
There are many reasons why this could be.
Perhaps there’s something fundamentally different in the way their body works.
Other remedies don’t work across different species because the difference in their diet interferes with the chemistry.
So that said, is there any scientific research specifically endorsing apple cider vinegar for dogs?
Apple cider vinegar for dogs
I can’t find any scientific studies that either prove or disprove benefits of apple cider vinegar for dogs.
Lack of scientific backing doesn’t necessarily mean that remedies don’t work.
But research published in scientific journals gives us a quantifiable way of describing how well something works.
Most importantly, it rules out the element of fluke, and proves the causal link between a remedy and it’s effect.
It also gives us valuable information about things like dosage, how long treatment should last, side effects and when not to use something.
What can dogs have apple cider vinegar for?
So is it all over for your dog and apple cider vinegar?
Whilst you should approach everything you read or hear with skepticism, the positive experiences of other dog owners may not count for nothing.
But before we delve in to the uses of apple cider vinegar for dogs, I can’t stress this enough:
ALWAYS consult with your vet before using an apple cider vinegar remedy on your dog.
Because all of these remedies are anecdotal, there’s no information sheet that comes with the bottle to tell us how to use them safely.
Your vet can advise if something in our dog’s make up or medical history has the potential to take apple cider vinegar from beneficial (or at least benign) to dangerous.
Apple cider vinegar for fleas on dogs
One of the most popular uses of apple cider vinegar for dogs is as a low-tech home remedy for fleas.
Apple cider vinegar fans often recommend using a 50:50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle, and squirting it into your dog’s coat to fight off fleas.
Alternatively, you could give your dog an apple cider vinegar dog bath, by splashing some into their bath water.
Does apple cider vinegar for dogs fleas work
The apple cider vinegar solution will probably repel fleas, yes.
Who wouldn’t move on if they were doused in vinegar?
But, there are lots of caveats to this approach:
Apple cider vinegar won’t kill the fleas, it’ll only make them jump off your dog.
Which of course means they’ll still be looking for any opportunity to jump back on again.
Even dilute apple cider vinegar can irritate your dog’s skin and eyes.
Be especially careful using home brew vinegar, since the concentration of acetic acid can be variable.
You’ll need to soak you dog to the skin with apple cider vinegar solution.
If your dog has a thick double coat, you probably already know that this can be a mammoth effort.
Apple cider vinegar in dog water
One way around the last problem is to put apple cider vinegar in you dog’s water bowl, and repel fleas from the inside out.
Advocates of apple cider vinegar believe that apple cider vinegar in dog water repels fleas.
They also believe it gives their dog a glossier coat, and even protects against dehydration by masking the taste of unfamiliar drinking water if you travel with a pooch who’s fussy about such things.
But as I’ve said, there’s no veterinary medical evidence to prove any of these benefits really exist.
Can dogs eat apple cider vinegar?
But most importantly is it even safe?
Can apple cider in dog water harm them?
For many dogs, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a bowlful of water, or licking residue from their coat is unlikely to cause any harm.
However, consuming too much could lead to stomach upsets.
How much is too much depends on the size of your dog, and their general constitution.
This is just one of the reasons its so important to include your vet before you start using apple cider vinegar for dogs.
Dog itching remedies apple cider vinegar
Apple cider for dog’s itchy skin is another frequently-listed use.
Apple cider vinegar, like all vinegars, has antimicrobial properties.
Which is to say, it can kill some of the microrganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
These cause the itchy skin conditions that cause our dogs so much misery.
But it’s NOT to say that it can kill all types of microbe, in any number.
Hot spot dog apple cider vinegar
Hot spots are painful lesions on dogs’ skin.
They begin with a small break in the skin, caused by a bite from a flea or mite, an allergic reaction, or a scratch.
When bacteria (which otherwise might have existed harmlessly on the surface of the skin) get into the break, they begin to explode in numbers, causing inflammation and itching.
Hot spots are quickly made worse by dogs’ natural reflex to scratch and chew the itchy infected area.
Apple cider vinegar for dogs’ skin
Since hot spots = bacterial infection and vinegar is antimicrobial, does apple cider vinegar cure hot spots?
As you can probably imagine, putting vinegar, even dilute vinegar, onto broken skin is going to sting like a thousand burning needles.
So no, we definitely do not recommend putting apple cider vinegar on hot spots!
Apple cider vinegar for dogs ears
Continuing in the theme of treating infections, can apple cider vinegar be used to treat ear infections?
The big problem here is that the ear is a complex and minute structure.
So even if apple cider vinegar is effective against the type of bacteria present, and could take out that many bacteria, getting it to all of the infected area may be nigh-on impossible.
Meanwhile, the infection is getting worse, and as anyone who’s ever had an ear infection can tell you, they’re very painful and completely miserable.
So if your dog has any discharge, odor, redness or swelling around his ears, or he’s scratching them more than usual, take him to a vet.
Dog UTI treatment apple cider vinegar
And finally (for infections) what about that most uncomfortable and unpleasant problem, the urinary tract infection?
Can apple cider vinegar help with dog UTIs?
Needless to say, without any evidence to back it up, we don’t recommend using apple cider vinegar as a first resort when your dog has a UTI.
Some owners also report using apple cider vinegar as a daily supplement to protect their dogs against recurring UTIs.
If this is something you’re interested in, talk it over with your vet first.
Dog tear stains apple cider vinegar
Tear stains are deposits of a compound called porphyrin, which slowly turn the fur at inner corner of dogs’ eyes a rusty red color.
They are most visible on dogs with pale-colored coats.
Porphyrin is a waste product of digesting food with iron in it.
Most is gotten rid of via your dog’s bile and faeces, but some is excreted in the tears and saliva as well.
If your dog has heavy tear stains, they need to see their vet before you attempt any home treatments.
Heavy tear stains can be a symptom of ingrown eyelashes, structural problems with the tear duct, poor diet or infection, amongst other causes.
If tear stains are a symptom of something more sinister, that thing needs to be found and treated before the tear stains (which may clear up of their own accord afterwards!)
I’ve found that people’s rationale and regimes for using apple cider to treat dog tear stains vary massively and are often contradictory.
And as you’ve probably guessed, there is no evidence to back up any of them, so they’re not getting my endorsement here.
Is apple cider vinegar good for dogs?
So, there’s no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar is good for dogs.
But plenty of dog owners will testify that apple cider has helped their dogs.
Are they right or wrong?
Well, they could be right: just because apple cider vinegar cures aren’t backed up by science yet, doesn’t mean they don’t work.
But there’s another interesting possibility too, and that’s the placebo effect.
Apple cider vinegar placebo effect
The placebo effect is when we believe a treatment is working, even though the “treatment” is demonstrably doing nothing.
It’s a phenomenon we usually associate with humans receiving human treatment.
Surely when we treat our pets, we’re capable of being totally objective about whether they’re working?!
In 2009 researchers at North Carolina State University found the owners of epileptic dogs taking part in a trial for an anti-seizure drugs reported fewer seizures even if their dog was receiving the placebo treatment.
And in 2012, vets at the University of Minnesota found that nearly half of 58 dog owners given a placebo to “treat” their dog’s osteoarthritis reported that their lameness improved.
We still don’t understand exactly how the placebo effect happens, but it’s entirely possible that many advocates of apple cider vinegar are also seeing results that haven’t really happened.
Is apple cider vinegar for dogs a good idea?
Proponents recommend apple cider vinegar for dogs on everything from treating fleas to UTIs, but none of these uses have been tested under controlled laboratory conditions yet.
For many dogs apple cider will be, if not beneficial, then at least benign.
We never recommend giving your dog apple cider vinegar without chatting it over with your vet first.
You should never use it in place of prescribed veterinary treatment, as you risk causing your dog to suffer a condition for longer than they would have otherwise had to.
Do you give your dog apple cider vinegar?
What’s your stance on apple cider vinegar for dogs?
What have you used it to treat, and do you think it worked?
What other home remedies for dogs would you like us to investigate in future?
We love to hear your thoughts, so please share them with us in the comments section below!