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Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs: Health Option or Myth?

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Apple Cider Vinegar has become quite the “cure-all” in the human health industry. Humans boast about the benefits they’ve encountered, from healthier hair and skin, cardiovascular health, and weight loss aid, all due to this foul-smelling (and tasting) product. 

Eventually, our attention turned to dogs. If apple cider vinegar has helped humans so much, does it have any applications for dogs? Or is it another case of an unstudied and undetermined supplement that doesn’t hold water when you put it to the test? 

Table of Contents

  1. What is Apple Cider Vinegar
  2. Benefits & Applications
  3. How it’s Given to Dogs
  4. Safety & Side Effects
  5. Should You Try it with Your Dog?

What is Apple Cider Vinegar? 

On a basic level, apple cider vinegar is the fermented juice from crushed apples. It is known to have strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties. It usually contains trace amounts of a variety of vitamins, like vitamins B1, B2, B6, and C. The minerals sodium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and iron usually are present in apple cider vinegar. Most people will consume apple cider vinegar orally or topically and use a 50/50 solution of apple cider vinegar and water. The reason being, as you’ll learn, if you’ve never cracked open a bottle, the taste and smell are rather intense, and it is pretty acidic. Water helps make intake more bearable while not compromising the potential benefits. 

What is ‘The Mother’?

If you start researching apple cider vinegar or have seen it in the grocery store, you may notice some apple cider vinegar brands and products will say “contains the mother” right there on the bottle. Why they settled on this name is a question for another day. The mother is a substance that forms in unfiltered, raw, organic apple cider vinegar and consists of different proteins and enzymes. The mother is also responsible for the cloudy, murky coloring of unfiltered apple cider vinegar. 

Apple cider vinegar that contains “The Mother” is the preferred choice. As we mentioned, if the product includes the mother, it is unfiltered and completely natural, making for a more effective product. Filtered apple cider vinegar products, which do not contain the mother, will be less effective toward health issues and will not contain the healthy proteins and enzymes the mother provides. 

Benefits & Applications Found in Dogs 

  • Itchy Skin
  • Hot Spots 
  • Flea & Tick Repellent 
  • Muscle Soreness
  • Digestive Health 
  • Ear Cleaner 
  • Fur Health 

Scientific studies are limited regarding the overall effectiveness apple cider vinegar has on these listed areas in dogs. However, most dog owners have supported and reported these beneficial claims, so much so that apple cider vinegar at least warrants further investigation as to what exactly it can help with. 

Of the most popular applications, many pet owners have found that apple cider vinegar “baths” have helped with their dogs’ itchy and flakey skin, as well as repelling fleas and ticks. This is thought to result from the antiseptic and antibacterial properties found in ACV, which can help naturally fight skin infections. This can also help promote cleaner and healthier fur. Now, this doesn’t mean filling up a bathtub with apple cider vinegar and sticking your dog in it. Most dog owners will use a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water (about two tsp. of ACV), put it in an empty spray bottle, and then slowly spray up and down their dog’s coat. Do not wash the spray off once applied. 

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How it’s Given to Dogs

Never give undiluted apple cider vinegar to your dog. Meaning, it is best practice to mix in water with each serving, bringing it to a 50/50 mix (as we discussed earlier). Apple cider vinegar is acidic, so giving it to your dog straight out of the bottle can raise issues. If you are using apple cider vinegar topically, like a flea and tick repellent or ear cleaner, be sure you are using the 50/50 mix we have talked about. Due to ACV’s acidic nature, it will be extremely painful if used on skin or an open wound with being diluted considerably. 

Dosing Amounts

When given orally, like on your dog’s food or in their water, dosing amounts will typically range from 1-2 tsp for dogs up to 34lbs, and 1tbsp for dogs 35-100lbs. These amounts are safe for dogs (with the 50/50 water mix). Dosing can vary depending on your dog’s weight and other factors, but if there’s one takeaway about dosing amounts, it’s that not much apple cider vinegar is needed per dose. Consult your veterinarian if you are unsure of how much or little to give your dog. If you want to try it on your own, we recommend starting with less than you think you need and gradually moving up to a more common dose if needed (1tsp or 1tbsp).

Safety & Side Effects

Apple cider vinegar has been found to be safe in dogs. However, there are some negative effects that can occur. The acidic properties found in apple cider vinegar can throw off your dog’s pH levels. If your dog has a naturally (or unnaturally) low pH level, giving them apple cider vinegar can cause side effects such as: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • GI Complications

If your dog does show any of these signs after consuming apple cider vinegar, it could be their pH levels or some other adverse reaction caused by the apple cider vinegar. To be sure, we recommend visiting your veterinarian and having your dog’s pH levels tested. 

Should You Try Apple Cider Vinegar for your Dog?

These natural home remedies are always difficult to assess. There is not an overwhelming amount of scientific data supporting apple cider vinegar’s benefits on dogs, but there is some. 

With apple cider vinegar, there is so much anecdotal evidence out there, coming from real dog owners, that it is almost naïve to completely dismiss at this point. If this many pet owners out there swear by it and say it has, in fact, helped their dog with specific health issues, why not give it a try? 

The ElleVet Team
[email protected]