Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs

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In the human world, apple cider vinegar has received a lot of buzz over the last few years. However, none of the health claims have been supported by quality scientific evidence, making many of them anecdotal at best. Since you may use apple cider vinegar to improve your health, you might consider using it for your dog. Unfortunately, apple cider vinegar treatments have not been proven effective in dogs, whether used internally or externally.

However, many pet parents have used apple cider vinegar for dogs topically and internally to give them potential health benefits. Of course, there are always risks associated with giving your dog any natural products that your vet has not approved. What’s more, the efficacy of this natural "remedy" has never been proven for anything in dogs. Now, you might be wondering whether or not you should use apple cider for your dog. We'll explore this further to help you make the right decision for your dog. 

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe For Dogs?

Apple cider vinegar is safe for dogs, but there are caveats. Apple cider vinegar contains no artificial ingredients or harsh chemicals since it's made from apples and water.1 However, pet parents should always talk to a vet before giving their dog something new. Apple cider vinegar is acidic and can upset dogs' stomachs. It also hasn't been proven an effective treatment for any condition, and there are better alternatives for dogs. 

Apple cider vinegar contains some vitamins and minerals, depending on the brand. However, they're not enough to support your dog's health. Dog nutrition is achieved through a well balanced diet. Therefore, even though apple cider vinegar is made from apples, they won't get any of the same potential benefits in the form of vitamins and minerals. So ultimately, there's no reason to give your dog apple cider vinegar because it doesn't provide nutrition, and many health claims are yet to be proven. 

Risks Of Feeding Your Dog Apple Cider Vinegar

In most cases, giving your dog a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in dog water won't cause negative side effects in healthy dogs.2 However, giving your dog undiluted apple cider vinegar or too much apple cider vinegar overall could be dangerous for some pets, especially those with existing health problems. 

Apple cider vinegar can cause mild to severe GI issues because it's acidic. Dogs with sensitive stomachs should avoid acidic compounds and foods, including citrus foods, because they can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. While these reactions should subside after the apple cider vinegar use has stopped, there's no point in potentially upsetting your dog's stomach when there are better alternatives. 

For example, dogs suffering from kidney disease don't process acidic compounds well, so giving them apple cider vinegar could make them sick.2 Since apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can disrupt the body's pH, which can damage internal organs and cause worsening health problems. 

Additionally, apple cider vinegar can cause dehydration in dogs, so if you plan to give them apple cider vinegar, you should always keep your dog hydrated with a fresh bowl of water nearby. 

Additionally, apple cider vinegar for dogs can cause skin irritation in pets who are given it topically. Many pet parents may choose to use apple cider vinegar for skin problems like getting rid of fleas or for use on skin infections as a natural method of treatment. However, natural doesn't always mean safe. Apple cider vinegar can cause dry skin, potentially worsening itching and dandruff. Some dogs can also have an allergic reaction to apple cider vinegar, worsening skin issues.

Apple cider vinegar can also get into your dog's eyes, causing a burning sensation and irritation. Therefore, it's always best to keep apple cider vinegar away from your dog, where they can't accidentally get into it. 

When not to feed your dog apple cider vinegar

Potential Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs

Unfortunately, not enough research has been done into the efficacy of apple cider vinegar for treating any health problems in dogs. Most of the benefits you hear about are purely anecdotal, and there's no scientific evidence to back them up. That being said, here are a few potential health benefits of apple cider vinegar for dogs. 

Itchy Skin Prevention 

Apple cider vinegar for dogs may help prevent itchy skin while soothing skin irritation and rashes. Since it's acidic, it may also prevent yeast infections on the skin and ears. In addition, the acidic compounds in apple cider vinegar can eliminate dandruff and treat some mild skin conditions like hot spots. However, it's important to note that there's no scientific evidence to determine whether this is safer or more effective than other treatments. 

Flea Treatment

Apple cider vinegar may be used to kill fleas and act as a flea repellent. Apple cider vinegar has long been used to kill insects on contact, and by acidifying the dog's pH levels, it can make them less appealing to fleas.1 

Ear Cleaner

Dogs prone to ear infections may benefit from apple cider vinegar because it's antibacterial and prevents the growth and spread of yeast. But, of course, since vinegar can irritate the skin in your dog's ears, there are safer alternatives for dogs that won't lead to a burning sensation and a worsening ear infection. 

Joint Support

Apple cider vinegar contains vitamin B complex, which may reduce joint inflammation and pain in dogs.1 However, dogs with severe joint pain should always see a vet for treatment since they could have arthritis, making it difficult to enjoy regular daily activities. 

Digestion

Apple cider vinegar contains enzymes that may reduce gas and bloat, which can relieve some digestive issues like diarrhea or constipation.1 However, the efficacy of these claims hasn't been proven. 

Dental Health

Many dogs don't like having their teeth brushed, so pet parents may look for additives they can put in their water to help promote healthy teeth. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which may break down plaque and tartar.1 Of course, acids are also bad for the teeth, so apple cider vinegar may break down your dog's tooth enamel. 

Again, not enough research has been done to validate the effectiveness in treating any dog ailments, from skin conditions and infections to digestive issues. Therefore, it's never a good idea to treat your dog's health problems at home, as minor as they may seem. Instead, always talk to a vet when you're worried about your dog's health instead of giving them at-home remedies, which can make matters worse. 

Even though the potential health benefits of apple cider vinegar for dogs haven't been proven, there are other ways in which it can benefit your dog– by using it as a natural cleaner. Apple cider vinegar is an effective household cleaner that can benefit your pet because it means not putting as many harmful chemicals on items they use or in the air. 

For example, instead of cleaning your toilet with bleach, you can clean it with apple cider vinegar, a safer alternative for everyone in your household. In addition, apple cider vinegar is a strong odor remover that can help you remove pet odors like urine. While these advantages may not directly benefit your dog, they can prevent health issues by ensuring your dog doesn't get into any toxic chemicals used in household cleaners. 

How Much Apple Cider Vinegar Can I Give My Dog?

How much apple cider vinegar to give your dog depends on their size, the health concern being addressed, and your vet's recommendations. Never give your pet apple cider vinegar without first consulting your vet. Depending on your dog's health concerns, your vet may have a safer, more effective solution. 

How Should I Give My Dog Apple Cider Vinegar?

Many dogs don't like the smell or taste of apple cider vinegar because their sense of smell is much more powerful than yours, so they may not drink their water if you put it directly into their water bowls, no matter how diluted it is. 

How you give your dog apple cider vinegar will depend on your vet's recommendations based on what you're using it for. For example, if you're using apple cider vinegar to improve coat health, your vet will give you instructions on how much apple cider vinegar to use mixed in with their dog shampoo. 

That being said, when feeding your dog apple cider vinegar, you should always dilute it to prevent the acidic compounds from upsetting your dog's GI system. 

Depending on your vet's recommendation, you may not need to feed your dog apple cider vinegar every day because too much acidity could cause mild GI issues. Additionally, you should always monitor your dog after giving them apple cider vinegar to ensure they don't have an allergic reaction to it and can stomach it before continuing to feed it to them. Give your dog a small amount at first to see how they react to it. If they don't experience any issues over the next several hours, it's safe to assume they can continue having it in small doses. However, you should only attempt these trials after speaking to your vet and getting their approval since they have more insight into your pet's condition and other remedies. 

Woman kissing her dog on head

Final Notes

Apple cider vinegar has become a popular topic in human health because of the many claims made online about its ability to improve health and wellness. However, even the human claims haven't effectively been proven by science, and there's even less evidence for the claims made for dogs. While apple cider vinegar has acidic compounds that may be helpful for some skin conditions, infections, and GI problems, it's not right for every dog. 

Additionally, it has no nutritional benefit for dogs, and there are safer, more effective alternatives on the market, no matter what you're trying to treat with apple cider vinegar. Pet parents should never try to treat their dog's ailments on their own. Instead, you should always work with a vet to improve your dog's health and wellness. Whether you're wondering what foods to avoid or how to treat ear infections, Dutch has your back. Our vets are available when you need them to answer your questions and help treat your dog's health issues. With a Dutch vet, you can learn everything you need to know about your pet, ensuring they can live a long, happy, and healthy life. 

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References

  1. "Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs: A Natural Path toward Health." Veterinarians.org, 8 Aug. 2022, https://www.veterinarians.org/apple-cider-vinegar-for-dogs/.

  2. "Can Pets Have Apple Cider Vinegar?" PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/can-pets-have-apple-cider-vinegar.

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