Downeast Dog News

Apple Cider Vinegar

By Dr. Judith Herman | Dec 01, 2017

Q. I take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar every day. Should my dog be getting it too?

A. Vinegar has been used for thousands of years for a myriad of tasks. Vinegar is made by fermenting wine, beer, ale, grains, and fruits. Making it in the traditional way takes a very long time. Now the time is shortened by modern methods.

Apple cider vinegar is used for cooking. Some popular brands, such as Bragg, Spectrum, Eden Organics, Solana Gold Organics, and Dynamic Health, are made from organic apples that are crushed to make cider, then aged in wooden barrels. These brands are raw, unfiltered, not distilled. They are cloudy and have a fibrous substance that looks like cobwebs. This is called the “mother,” which consists of pectin and apple residue. The mother contains enzymes the distilled vinegars do not.

The USDA considers all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids, to be absent in ACV except for potassium. ACV does help the health of you and your dog by enhancing digestion. When taken with food, the acetic acid in the ACV aids in the absorption of nutrients.

Vinegar has an important antiseptic property which helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses in the digestive track but doesn’t disrupt the good bacteria.

Other research shows vinegar to be a better disinfectant than soap to kill harmful bacteria and viruses on food. Using a 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water kills 98% of the bacteria. Another study showed using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide kills the most bacteria in raw meat, vegetables, cutting boards, and other kitchen utensils. You can mist with either the vinegar or peroxide, and then follow up with the other. Do not mix them together, use them separately. If you are concerned about bacterial contaminants when using raw meat, this procedure is very beneficial.

With our canine companions, vinegar can be used topically, but test it first unless you are going to wash it off. In some dogs, the vinegar is irritating. If there is redness, dilute the vinegar and try again. If redness continues, then rinse and discontinue.

For skin irritations, cuts, sores, and hot spots, use ACV on the spot straight or dilute it.

You can combine the ACV with healing herbs such as calendula, St. John’s wort, or comfrey.

As an insect repellent, plain vinegar or herbs with ACV repels fleas and mosquitoes. Spray the coat avoiding the eyes, nose, and mouth. With light or white dogs, ACV can stain the coat, so use distilled vinegar.

Vinegar is used to remove pet odors, especially puppy pee spots. Use 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water poured on the spot and then blot dry.

If Fido rolls in something nasty or gets sprayed by a skunk, try using a mixture of 1 freshly opened quart of 3% peroxide with ¼ cup baking soda and 1 teaspoon dish soap. Wear gloves and avoid eyes, mouth, and nose. Cover the whole dog and then rinse with water and follow with vinegar if any smell is left.

To reduce body odor, use 1 cup vinegar to 2 to 4 cups water. To reduce dandruff, massage full strength ACV into the coat before shampooing.

For itchy feet due to contact allergy, soak the feet in full or diluted ACV.

Apply ACV to sore muscles with a sponge or cotton. This is also good for bruises, sore paws, and other discomforts.

Is a daily dose of ACV good for your dog? Unless your dog is allergic to apples, Fido should not have a problem. You will see in about a month if it is making a difference. Commonly reported benefits include improvements in skin and coat condition, a reduction of itching and scratching, elimination of tear stains on the face, fewer urine brown spots on the lawn, increased mobility, reduction of flea population, and overall better health. The range of ACV in water is 1 to 3 teaspoons per 50 pounds.

If you plan to put ACV in your dog’s water, be sure to put a bowl of pure water down too. You don’t want Fido to decrease his water intake because he doesn’t like or doesn’t want ACV all the time.


Judith K. Herman DVM, CVH

Animal Wellness Center

Augusta, Maine