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Apple cider vinegar

The essentials

  • Apple cider vinegar is a natural remedy — Many dog parents use ACV as a supplement, a skin-soothing tonic, and an odor eliminator.
  • Check with your veterinarian before administering — Always ask your vet before introducing a new supplement like apple cider vinegar to your dog’s diet or coat-care routine.
  • Proper dosage and administration are key — Make sure to follow dosage instructions depending on what you’re using apple cider vinegar to treat and your pup’s weight.

Apple cider vinegar is safe for healthy dogs, but scientific evidence of its benefits is limited. Often abbreviated ACV, apple cider vinegar might help with fleas and relieve itchy skin and hot spots. Some pet parents point to ACV’s positive effects on humans who struggle to maintain their blood sugar and cholesterol levels. However, dogs metabolize medications and supplements differently. Because of the risks of giving your dog a dose of apple cider vinegar, our veterinarian review board advises sticking with ACV for topical use only, at least until there’s further scientific study.

What is apple cider vinegar?

ACV is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple juice. When the sugars in apples undergo the fermentation process, it creates acetic acid — the primary compound in vinegar. It’s then combined with a bacteria known as the “mother.” The mother gives ACV a cloudy appearance and is sometimes removed before being bottled and sold in stores; however, it’s perfectly safe and, in fact, provides the bulk of the health benefits. People use unfiltered apple cider vinegar for everything from acid reflux relief to eczema treatment, and many believe that it provides health benefits for dogs.

The benefits of using apple cider vinegar for dogs

While not scientifically proven, many pet parents have found that apple cider vinegar can be a great addition to your pet care when used in small doses and diluted with water. There are several potential ways apple cider vinegar can help pet parents and their pups.

Soothe your dog’s skin

Anecdotal evidence shows that using ACV topically may provide health and wellness benefits to dogs.

  • Relieve itchy skin — Add apple cider vinegar to your dog’s regular grooming routine to help soothe itchiness and dry skin, eliminate dandruff, and improve your dog’s coat. Avoid the topical use of ACV if your dog’s skin has open wounds or sores, as it could sting the skin and cause further irritation. Otherwise, use equal parts purified water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle and simply spray on any hot spots on your dog’s skin.
  • Repel fleas — Apple cider vinegar may help prevent flea and tick bites when applied before going outdoors. It won’t entirely prevent an infestation, but fleas and ticks don’t like the smell of the vinegar, which will help repel them. Use the same formula of equal parts purified water and ACV in a spray bottle and give your pup a good spray down before heading out on your next hike or camping trip.
  • Treat paw yeast infections — If your dog has itchy, discolored, and smelly paws, they may be experiencing a yeast infection. Because of ACV’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties, some pet parents soothe their dog’s infected paws by soaking them in diluted ACV.

Paw rinse recipe

For irritated skin and infections, mix ½ cup of apple cider vinegar, ½ cup of green tea (another at-home remedy that can soothe skin), and 1 cup of water. Submerge your pup’s paws in the solution for about three minutes, and finish with a rinse and pat dry. You can use this treatment daily if needed until symptoms subside.

👉 Never use apple cider vinegar on broken skin or open wounds such as scrapes, cuts, or scabs.

Clean up after pets

Because ACV has microbial properties, it’s useful as a cleaning agent. Pet parents can mix 1 part distilled apple cider vinegar with 3 parts water and use it as a pre-wash spray on bedding or as a pet spot stain remover on the carpet. Its antibacterial properties can eliminate bacteria that cause foul smells, which makes ACV a good deodorizer.

The risks of using apple cider vinegar for dogs

As we mentioned, all potential benefits of using ACV for dogs are anecdotal. Pet parents should be aware of potential risks before deciding how and when to use apple cider vinegar for their pups.

Worsen an ear infection

While apple cider vinegar is relatively safe to use on the outside of your dog’s ears, it may cause problems if used inside the ear. Never use ACV to flush your dog’s ears, as this can cause vestibular syndrome . Take your dog to the vet when they may be suffering from an ear infection, and do your best to keep their ears clean and dry. We recommend using an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs or whichever cleaner your vet recommends.

Interfere with medications

Dog owners whose pups have diabetes should steer clear of ACV, as it has the potential to interact with insulin medication. This is assuming that ACV lowers blood sugar levels in dogs, which has not been proven, but better to avoid this risk altogether.

Cause GI upset

Apple cider vinegar is quite acidic, with a pH balance between 2 and 3, where 1 is the most acidic and 7 is neutral. Some dogs experience GI upset after ingesting ACV, leading to diarrhea or vomiting. In cases of vomiting, the acidity of ACV can also cause a burning sensation in your dog’s esophagus.

How to give apple cider vinegar to your dog properly

If you give your dog an oral dose of apple cider vinegar, proper dosages are important, just as they are when giving any oral supplements to your pet. Too much vinegar in your dog’s diet can cause adverse reactions. Here are some general dosage recommendations based on your dog’s weight, but we highly recommend talking to your dog’s vet before adding apple cider vinegar as a supplement to their diet.

ACV dosages based on weight

Dog size Recommended dosage*
0-14 lbs 1 teaspoon ACV
15-34 lbs 2 teaspoons ACV
35-84 lbs 1 tablespoon ACV

*Mix with water or food.

Similar to using apple cider vinegar on your dog’s skin conditions, dilute it when giving it as a supplement. Mix it in with your dog’s water or dog’s food. If you do mix with water, make sure you have a bowl of fresh water on hand in case your doggy doesn’t like the taste or smell. You don’t want your pup to become dehydrated because they refuse to drink the water that contains apple cider vinegar.

Frequently asked questions

Is apple cider vinegar safe for dogs?

Yes, ACV is safe for dogs in small doses, just make sure to dilute your apple cider vinegar the right amount, generally 50/50 with water for topical uses and mixing it with drinking water or food for dietary uses. Follow the recommended oral dosage based on your pup’s weight.

Are there any risks or side effects?

Some dogs can have an allergic reaction to apple cider vinegar, so it’s important to watch for signs of irritation on their skin. A sudden intake of the acidic ACV can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or other digestion problems. When taken internally, start with small amounts and monitor your dog for signs that they can’t tolerate it.

What kind of apple cider vinegar should you buy?

When buying apple cider vinegar for yourself or your dog, it’s best to look for raw, organic, and undiluted apple cider vinegar with the mother included. This ensures that what you get is free of pesticides that can be harmful when ingested or used topically.

How much apple cider vinegar can I give my dog?

Oftentimes, vets base an ACV dosage recommendation on the dog’s weight. Review our recommended dosage chart above for guidelines on what’s a safe amount to offer your dog according to their size.