Apple Cider Vinegar: Good for Your Dog Too?

You’ve probably noticed by now that you can’t go anywhere without seeing something about how apple cider vinegar is the miracle food that is missing from your diet. Magazine articles claim that it can help with everything from bad breath to diabetes, from weight loss to high cholesterol. 

Maybe you’ve tried it and it’s worked for you, and maybe you’ve been wondering if your dog could try it as well. After all, your dog has bad breath and a chubby belly, too. Could apple cider vinegar help? Well, there are some folks who say it can. Here are a few ways that people have used it with their dogs, but make sure you talk to your vet before trying it out.

How is apple cider vinegar used with dogs?

All the claims surrounding apple cider vinegar’s health benefits for dogs can be broken into two categories—external and internal.

Possible Benefits of External Use

  • Control dandruff and odor by pouring an apple cider rinse on your dog’s coat after a bath (make sure you aren’t pouring it on any open cuts or sores as the liquid is acidic and will burn). Use one cup of vinegar to 2-4 cups of water. If your dog has light-colored fur, you might want to use distilled white vinegar instead, so the apple cider version doesn’t stain the fur orange.

  • Treat “hot spots” (inflamed area of skin often caused by allergies or insect bites) and itchy paws by spraying diluted apple cider vinegar onto your dog’s inflamed skin. Be careful, though as the mixture is highly acidic and may sting. Try a small area first.

  • Clean inside your dog’s ears with apple cider vinegar (split 1:1 with warm water) by putting a few drops in the ear and then rubbing the ear. This may also help treat ear infections.

  • Spray the diluted mixture on your dog’s coat and skin to help prevent fleas.

Possible Benefits of Internal Use

  • As a general supplement for digestive health, mix a small amount of apple cider vinegar (one teaspoon per 50 lbs. of weight) into your dog’s food twice a day.

  • To aid in the prevention of kidney and bladder stones, add between one tablespoon per 50 lbs. and one teaspoon per 15 lbs. of body weight to your dog’s food, depending upon your dog’s tolerance for the mixture. This, in conjunction with cranberry capsules and probiotics, is a natural preventative measure to take.

Doing What’s Best for Your Dog

On one hand, many dog owners and advocates of natural health remedies laud the benefits of apple cider vinegar for their dog’s health and well-being. On the other hand, many veterinarians are less enthusiastic about the claims made about the benefits for dogs. Many vets express concern that the high acidity of apple cider vinegar may be causing pain and irritation to your dog when applied topically and that some pet owners may be trying to treat serious conditions that should be treated with prescription antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and other medications. 

Be aware of the possibility of allergies, tooth sensitivity with long-term use, and inflammation of the esophagus. Some dogs will experience a sore mouth and bone deterioration has been noted. Changes in the pH of a dog's body is another possible side effect. These symptoms should be watched out for even though apple cider vinegar is typically very safe.

Although apple cider vinegar may not be a cure-all (nothing is!), it is hard to dismiss the positive claims about it, especially if you’ve experienced them for yourself. So take this information with you when you talk to your vet. That way you’ll be better prepared with questions to ask, remembering that both of you have the same goal--a healthy and happy pooch!

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