Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Dogs

By Melissa Harr

Pet experts and dog owners alike swear by the benefits that apple cider vinegar brings dogs, from softer fur to reduced skin irritation. Claims range from scientifically sound to anecdotal, but because apple cider vinegar is inexpensive and generally harmless, dog owners can judge the benefits for themselves without much risk or worry. Introduce the dog to apple cider vinegar’s acidity slowly, and if the dog is on medication, ask a veterinarian about any possible interactions.

Getting Fleas to Flee

Fleas and ticks are repelled by the acidity of apple cider vinegar. To keep flea infestations at bay, spray diluted apple cider vinegar onto your dog's fur. A mixture of half water and half apple cider vinegar is sufficient. For a more long-term solution, consider adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a dog’s food or water each day, which will give his skin a slight acidic smell. An application of diluted apple cider vinegar can help dogs who already have fleas, as well, since it will cause fleas to jump off. Note, though, that a dog who has a full-blown flea infestation may need a treatment with a flea shampoo since apple cider vinegar will not kill flea eggs.

Stop the Itching, Stop the Scratching

Common issues that cause dogs to scratch repeatedly include poison ivy, too much yeast on the skin, flea bites, out-of-balance skin pH and rashes. Apple cider vinegar has the power to relieve and even prevent these problems. It clears up poison ivy, kills yeast, restores skin pH balance, repels fleas and dries up the excessive oils in the skin that lead to eruptions and rashes. For spot treatment, spray the affected area with an apple cider vinegar and water mixture in a ratio of 1-to-1, being careful to avoid open cuts. Give the dog all-over relief by administering an apple cider vinegar and green tea rinse: bathe the dog as normal, then pour a mixture of apple cider vinegar, green tea and water in a ratio of 1-to-1-to-2 over the animal. Towel dry.

Relief for the Ears

Apple cider vinegar kills an overabundance of yeast, so an apple cider vinegar treatment can knock out minor ear infections caused by an overabundance of this fungus. A daily treatment with apple cider vinegar will stop the ear from becoming too yeasty, preventing an infection. Mix 5 parts water to 1 part apple cider vinegar and apply it to the dog’s ear with a dropper. Once a day is sufficient for prevention, but if the ear is already affected, apply the mixture two or three times a day. If the ear is inflamed and sore, this may sting the dog, so be careful with dogs who are prone to snapping. Pay close attention to how the ear responds to this treatment. Dogs also get bacterial ear infections, which apple cider vinegar won’t cure. Bacterial infections tend to be worse, so if the infection is not mild or does not respond to the apple cider vinegar, take your dog to a veterinarian.

Bring Hot Spots to a Halt

Hot spots are essentially red, moist, hot lesions that irritate the dog and grow worse as the dog continually licks or chews at them. They are caused by skin irritations of all kinds, from flea bites to allergic reactions to underlying skin infections. No matter where they come from, though, an apple cider vinegar treatment can bring relief as it dries out the spot and restores the skin’s pH balance. Spray the hot spot a few times a day with a 1-to-1 vinegar and water mixture; dilute the mixture further and spray more often if it stings the dog’s skin. Consider adding 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to the dog’s food or water each day, as well, which aids in keeping the dog’s skin and coat healthy to prevent hot spots.