9 Surprising Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs

Important Disclaimer: I am not a vet. Not even close! 🙂 My degree is in marketing. My goal is to share information and research with you to empower you; not to give you medical advice. I’m just sharing my own personal experience and information I have read. If you think you want to try something you read about here, talk to your vet! But first read this and many more articles to empower yourself for a good discussion in which you can ask your vet great questions about what you want to try.

Knowledge is power – never forget that!

Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs

Using apple cider vinegar for dogs is rising in popularity as people learn about its many health benefits. From itchy skin to digestive troubles to worm treatment, this natural product is establishing a track record as a natural, inexpensive, and effective treatment for dogs and people alike.

History

Apple cider vinegar has been around for thousands of years, dating back to medicinal use by Hippocrates in 400 BC. It is made from fermented apples and water.

From acne and dandruff to stomach and digestive issues, medicinal claims for humans abound. One study documented its effectiveness in moderating blood sugar levels after meals for people with type 2 diabetes.

Although its use for dogs is not a new idea, medicinal use of apple cider vinegar for dogs has seen a surge in popularity.

How does apple cider vinegar work?

dog gut health clip art

Apple cider vinegar is full of microbes that establish good gut health. Fermented foods containing probiotics have been shown (in humans) to strengthen the immune system, improve digestion, and improve mental health.

In addition to probiotics, apple cider vinegar contains digestive enzymes, magnesium, potassium, and natural antioxidants called polyphenols.

Although you may have heard of using it for cooking and cleaning, some of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar may surprise you.

9 Surprising Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs

**note: this post contains affiliate links. No one paid me to recommend these products, I recommend them because I like them. However, using the link to buy the products helps support happynaturaldog.com. **

1. Hot Spot Treatment

dog scratching hot spot
photo by Birgl

Hot spots are irritated spots on a dog’s skin that can be caused by a variety of things: allergies, parasites, dry skin, and more. Key signs include your dog licking, biting, or scratching a specific area of their body.

Mix a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water and spray on the irritated area multiple times a day. Apple cider vinegar can soothe the skin if you catch the hot spot early, before your dog has broken the skin.

If the skin has already been excessively scratched, is visibly broken, or has a “raw” look to it, do not use an apple cider vinegar mixture as it will sting and burn when applied. Also avoid using near the eyes for this reason.

Banixx Pet Care for dog hot spots

If the hot spot is raw or has areas of broken skin, I prefer to use a product called Banixx. Banixx is pH formulated to prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria while soothing and healing your dog’s skin.

When spraying with Banixx, saturate the area and massage it into the skin. Make sure your dog doesn’t lick it off: you can use a cone, a thundershirt, or give them a kong filled with peanut butter or canned pumpkin. Apply 2-3 times a day.

Dexas Mudbuster
Insert paw and let soak for 5 minutes in 50/50 apple cider vinegar solution

2. Relief for Itchy Paws & Dry Skin

Soaking your dog’s paws for 5 minutes in a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water can help kill yeast organisms that thrive in the warm, moist areas between pads and toes. If you have trouble getting your dog to stand in the mixture, try using the Mudbuster for easy immersion in the solution.

To remedy a dry coat and skin, pour a 1 to 4 solution (1 cup apple cider vinegar to 4 cups water) over your dog after a bath as a rinse.

I can vouch for its effectiveness on course, dry hair; I use a 1:4 apple cider vinegar rinse on my hair once a week and it is so much softer and shinier!

3. Repels Fleas

apple cider vinegar repelling fleas

Get in the habit of spraying your dog with a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water before your walk each day. Fleas dislike the smell and taste of it so are less likely to jump on your dog.

Some websites also claim that adding apple cider vinegar to your dog’s food each day will repel the fleas as well.

It’s important to note that if your dog is flea infested, spraying with apple cider vinegar will not kill the fleas. Read about natural flea & tick repellent for dogs to be sure you are doing what is needed to kill any fleas and eggs that are on your dog.

4. Promotes Healthy Digestion

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar increases the production of good bacteria, which allows your dog’s body to establish and maintain a good intestinal flora population.

Apple cider vinegar is a digestive aid that, when combined with nutrient-rich foods, helps the body absorb the vitamins and minerals in the food. It can also help dogs with an upset stomach.

By helping to regulate digestion and establish a healthy intestinal flora, it relieves digestive upset in your dog.

5. Natural Ear Infection Prevention and Treatment

dog needing apple cider vinegar for dogs ears infection
photo by Attila Nagy

In an article on Natural Remedies for Dog Ear Infections,  Dogs Naturally Magazine discusses using apple cider vinegar for the treatment of mild ear infections:

Pour or squirt a 50/50 mixture of apple cider vinegar and water into your dog’s ear and massage gently below the ear. Do this daily for a few weeks, then once a week for several more months.

The antimicrobial properties of apple cider vinegar help to control the growth of yeast and unfriendly bacteria that are common causes of ear infections.

Once a week ear cleansing with your apple cider vinegar solution will help prevent further ear infections.

6. Prevents Urinary Tract Infections

Apple cider vinegar helps to prevent UTIs and maintain urinary tract health; I can speak to this one personally.

Two of my dogs have had crystal issues in their urine (from a poor pH balance). This resulted in UTIs for one of them, and in excessive licking and discomfort in both.

Most recently, our Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever began urinating frequently when outside and licking excessively when inside. A visit to the vet revealed urine that was highly acidic and full of crystals.

The vet recommended a prescription diet, but we chose a holistic approach instead. We added a probiotic supplement called ProPower Plus to further help provide good bacteria for her intestinal system and switched her to a raw diet.

When her pH became less acidic we began adding 1.5 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to her food each day to prevent a recurrence of her UTI and crystal formation.

Her urinary issues disappeared and when we tested her urine pH it tested between 6 & 7, a huge improvement from her highly acidic urine result at the vet. We continue to periodically test her urine pH to make sure it stays in this range.

Our other dog, a sheltie mix, had experienced a few UTIs in a short period of time. We started adding apple cider vinegar to her breakfast each day, and she hasn’t had a UTI since.

7. Prevent and Eliminate Worms

Yes! Apple cider vinegar increases the alkalinity in your dog’s intestines making it inhospitable for worms and other parasites. Add it to your dog’s food each day to help keep their intestines worm-free.

I use apple cider vinegar and ground up pumpkin seeds as worm preventatives for my pack. Pumpkin seeds contain cucurbitacin, which paralyzes worms and makes them easily eliminated from the intestine. I buy them at my local food coop and grind them up in my Cuisenart food processor. Make sure to get unsalted, dogs don’t need added salt in their diet.

I like having a double line of defense, my dogs sneak bunny poop whenever they can so I want to have an inhospitable environment and something that expels any worms that they eat.

8. Help Relieve Arthritis and Hip Dysplasia Pain

dog needing apple cider vinegar for urinary tract infection
drawing by Mustafa Kücük & V. Gruenewaldt

As discussed earlier, apple cider vinegar can normalize the acid-alkaline balance in your dog’s blood. It also helps to remineralize your dog’s bones, a process in which calcium and phosphate ions rebuild and strengthen molecules.

These processes are beneficial for dogs with arthritis as well as those with hip dysplasia and other joint problems.

9. Prevent & Treat Bladder Stones

This one is a bit trickier. There are two types of bladder stones: struvite and calcium oxalate. One forms in an environment that is too acidic, one in an environment that is too alkaline.

Apple Cider Vinegar is alkalizing when ingested, so you need to work with your vet to determine the type of stones your dog has before deciding if apple cider vinegar will be helpful.

What is the Best Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs?

Look for apple cider vinegar that is raw, unpasteurized, and has the “mother” in it.

What in the heck, you ask, is the “mother?” I had the same reaction when I read my first apple cider vinegar bottle with a big proclamation on it saying “contains the mother!”

The mother is the name for all the brown gunk, and any jelly-like disc, at the bottom of the bottle. The mother is used in the fermentation, and all the brown gunk and floaty things are full of beneficial live bacteria and enzymes that provide all the health benefits.

apple cider vinegar for dogs ears skin and digestion 221 x 600

When apple cider vinegar is “raw” or “unfiltered” that means it still has the mother in it. So, it’s a good thing.

I prefer Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with The Mother. In the world of natural health, Bragg is the gold standard. I’d rather use the gold standard and then if it does or doesn’t work I don’t have to wonder if product quality was an issue.

How Much Apple Cider Vinegar Should I Give My Dog?

Many articles that I read did not list exact doses, and others only talked about one dose for a specific animal size. The chart I found on Modern Dog Magazine did the best job, I thought, listing by dog size:

  • Small dogs (up to 14 lbs) 1 tsp/day
  • Medium dogs (15-34 lbs) 2 tsp/day
  • Large dogs (35-84 lbs) 1 Tbsp/day

But, REMEMBER:

  • If adding to your dog’s food, start with a small amount and increase slowly to help your dog get used to it.
  • Never give undiluted apple cider vinegar, mix it in food or water.
  • Do not feed apple cider vinegar to dogs that have intestinal lining irritation.
  • If using topically, never apply any dilution mixture to skin that is raw or broken, it will sting horribly!

Has Apple Cider Vinegar Helped Your Dog?

As you can see, apple cider vinegar has a myriad of uses for dogs.

It prevents issues as well as resolves them without the use of expensive medicines and prescriptions. Not only does it save us money, but it lessens the need to use chemicals on our pets.

It builds our dogs’ immune systems, helping them to live longer, healthier lives.

How have you used apple cider vinegar for your dog, and what were the results? Share your stories below in the comment section so we can all learn more about its benefits.

Naturally,

Karen

Study citations

Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect

Yogurt and Other Fermented Foods as Sources of Health-Promoting Bacteria

Vinegar Consumption Can Attenuate Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses

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Karen Pedersen Written by:

Karen is an independent copywriter who loves dogs and everything about them. She is married to Scott, has 4 kids, and likes to take a natural and holistic approach to living and pet ownership.

5 Comments

  1. February 13, 2021
    Reply

    Karen, in #6 you said when your dog’s PH became less acidic, then you started to add ACV to her diet. What is “less acidic”? I tested Marlene this morning and her PH was 4.5 for her first two pees of the day. That is pretty acidic. Did you wait until it became closer to 6? Thanks!

    • February 13, 2021
      Reply

      Hi Rain, Wow – 4.5 is very acidic, with that low a pH I would be she might have crystals too? My dog tends to land between 6 and 7, the most common recommendation I read was to shoot for 6 to 6.5. Apple cider vinegar is tricky, here is a quote I found online about how it affects urine pH: Usually ACV will cause the urine pH to be acid after taking this a couple of hours, usually upon the first or second urination after drinking apple cider vinegar, thereafter the next day it tends to become more alkaline from the minerals provided in the apple cider vinegar, hence the controversy.” So the gist of what I read is that your dog’s urine will become more alkaline over time with apple cider vinegar, but if it were my dog I would be checking the first pee of each day with my pH strips to be sure I know it’s not having a different effect. You are already giving cranberry, which is another way to help bring the urine pH up, what brand/strength are you using?

  2. February 13, 2021
    Reply

    As discussed, but I’ll reply here, for the sake of your readers who may stumble across this! I am giving her 250mg currently a day. I will up her cranberry to 500mg and start her on the apple cider vinegar; check her PH levels daily and hope for the best! AND I will update! 🙂

  3. tom nogaro
    March 11, 2021
    Reply

    hi karen
    thank you for all your work and love.

    we live in athens greece and could use your help in locating a holistic vet and acupuncturist for our jolie.
    in athens greece.

    jolie is a healthy, happy spayed 5-year-old husky-shep mix breed. about 6 weeks ago she began showing urinary incontinence upon waking. her vet initially treated her with 2 antibiotics,m the first for 2 weeks unsuccessfully without urine analiysis to show bacteria type and sensitivity, and the second for 2 unsuccessful trials of 15 days each and only after a urine culture showed klebsiella pneumoniae infection.

    her cbc showed normal. no sono was ever done. now, the same vet has trial prescribed a month of a porin, a commonly used pharma here for urethral muscle treatment, without even a second urine culture or any further cbc to rule out resistant lingering klebsiella, or any sono whatsoever to rule out any structural issues.

    my reading of your works indicates that the prescribed porin has serious side effects (diarrhea, panting, seizures, htn, death), worse than the incontinence itself. thus, we seek a natural holistic diet with raw grain feed, safe dietary supplements including apple cider vinegar, and acupuncture, and a holistic vet to manage this, once a new urine analysis, cbc, sono are done to help us get a proper diagnosis and natural holistic, non-pharma, treatment.

    most gratefully, to you in general and for any help you could offer,

    • March 11, 2021
      Reply

      Dear Tom, I’m so sorry to hear you are dealing with incontinence and poor Jolie is only 5 years old!

      Before I forget, I would definitely recommend getting probiotics and giving them to Jolie. Since she has been 3 trials of antibiotics her intestines need you to give her “good” bacteria to recolonize. (antibiotics kill bad AND good bacteria)

      I think you’re wise to try and find a holistic vet. I’m having the same trouble as you, I’m not finding much. I did find a veterinary acupuncturist in Greece but it looks like they are 5+ hours from Athens. Here is the link I found them on, perhaps you could contact them and ask if they know of any vets in Athens that are holistic (or acupuncture or chiropractic vets)? https://www.ivas.org/vets/?fwp_country=greece.

      Another thought I had is with Covid, would an integrative or holistic vet be willing to do a remote consult with you? There were integrative vets in other European countries (but not Greece) when I searched on https://www.civtedu.org/europe/. Perhaps a holistic vet in a different European country would be willing to do an online consultation with you? It won’t help on the acupuncture or chiropractic front, but they could help you come up with a medical plan. You could share results of urine analyses and cultures and they could recommend treatment.

      I didn’t find any chiropractic vets in Greece either, but perhaps if you contacted one in Europe they might guide you to a directory that would help you find one? Here is the international veterinary chiropractic website that I found. https://ivca.de/search/?geodir_search=1&stype=gd_place&s=+&snear=Greece&sort_by=&sgeo_lat=39.074208&sgeo_lon=21.824312.

      If it were my dog I would be troubled by the same thing you are, that no culture was done to rule out lingering bacterial infection. So finding a holistic vet would be a great first step, or even a better conventional vet that won’t give antibiotics multiple times without doing cultures.

      Jolie is so lucky to have you to advocate for her, you are a great dog owner. Please update as go, I would be really grateful to hear if you are able to find a vet and make progress figuring out Jolie’s incontence!

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