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essential tips

A guide to apple cider vinegar for dogs

Apple cider vinegar is touted as a cure-all for dogs, but is it worth the hype?

Updated August 20, 2021

Created By

Madison Blancaflor,
Pomeranian getting sprayed with apple cider vinegar to help soothe its skin

The essentials

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

What is apple cider vinegar?

In recent years, apple cider vinegar has become a popular household remedy (not unlike coconut oil) for dog owners for just about everything from itchy skin to flea repellant to deodorizing laundry. But what is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple juice. When the sugars in apples undergo the fermentation process, acetic acid is created — the primary compound in vinegar. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is what gives it the sour smell and flavor, but it’s also believed to be what provides a number of health benefits for dogs.

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Apple cider vinegar uses

When used in small doses, apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be a great addition to your pet care routine across the board. Here are some of the potential ways apple cider vinegar helps pet parents and their pups.

Using apple cider vinegar on your dog’s skin

Benefits of apple cider vinegar for your pup’s skin range from repelling fleas to soothing irritation. See below for how to make the best mixture to spray on.

  • Flea and tick repellent. Apple cider vinegar can help prevent flea and tick bites when sprayed before going outside. It won’t entirely prevent an infestation, but fleas and ticks don’t like the smell of the vinegar, which will help repel them.
  • Soothe dry, itchy, and flaky skin. You can add apple cider vinegar to your dog’s regular grooming routine to help soothe itchiness and dry skin, get rid of dandruff, and improve your dog’s coat. Simply spray on any hot spots on your dog’s skin.

👉 Just make sure you never use apple cider vinegar on broken skin or open wounds such as scrapes, cuts, or scabs.

  • Ear cleaner. Acetic acid can kill harmful bacteria, which can prevent ear infections. And it can also help soothe itchy ears caused by bacteria or ear wax. Spray the water and vinegar mixture on a cotton ball and lightly swab the outside of your dog’s ear.
  • Treat paw yeast infections. Because of its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, it can help soothe your dog’s infected paws when you soak them in the mixture.

Dosage for skin application

Recommended dosage: You can mix equal parts water and apple cider vinegar in a spray bottle to use as a tonic for your dog’s coat and skin

For irritated skin, you can also 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 to spray on your pup’s coat.

Using apple cider vinegar (ACV) as a supplement

Apple cider vinegar can also be added to your dog’s diet to help improve their overall health. It acts as an antibacterial and probiotic, which is great for gut health. And there are studies that it lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels (heart disease risk factors) in animals.

While there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support apple cider vinegar as a replacement for medication, adding it in small doses to your dog’s diet could improve your pup’s overall health. It may:

Dosage for supplement use

Keep in mind that dosage is very important. 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.

Recommended dosage based on weight:

  • 1 teaspoon for dogs up to 14 pounds
  • 2 teaspoons for dogs 15 to 34 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon for dogs 35 to 84 pounds

*Make sure to mix in with water or food.

Similar to using apple cider vinegar on your dog’s skin, you don’t want to give it to them straight. Mix it in with your dog’s water or dog’s food. And if you do mix with water, make sure you have a fresh water bowl 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.

Using apple cider vinegar (ACV) for cleaning

Not only can apple cider vinegar play a role in your pup’s health, but it can also be a great addition to your cleaning routine.

Dosage for cleaning

Recommended dosage: You can mix 1 part distilled apple cider vinegar with 3 parts water.

Then use it as a pre-wash spray on bedding or as a pet spot stain remover on carpet. It’s also great for deodorizing because it can eliminate bacteria that causes foul smells.

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Frequently asked questions

Is apple cider vinegar safe for dogs?

Yes, it is safe for dogs in small doses. Just make sure you’re diluting 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) and following the recommended dosage based on your pup’s weight.

Are there any risks or side effects?

Apple cider vinegar has a high acidity level, so using it in too large of a concentration can irritate the skin, eyes, and digestive tract. This is why diluting your mixture and using small doses is important.

Additionally, keep in mind that apple cider vinegar doesn’t smell or taste that great, so your dog may not enjoy it for those reasons.

What kind of apple cider vinegar should you buy?

It’s best to get organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. You can find it at most grocery stores, but make sure to check the label.

At the store, you’re likely to see some bottles of apple cider vinegar that are clear. Those are fine for cleaning uses, but they won’t be as effective otherwise. What you’ll want to look for is a cloudier bottle. The cloudy, sometimes stringy, matter floating around in organic apple cider vinegar is called the “mother” and contains enzymes that help digest food and add other health benefits.