Over the past few years, natural remedies have become more popular among pet owners. A common natural remedy used by people more popularly in the West is apple cider vinegar both for humans and for dogs. ACV for dogs is said to have several health benefits ranging from weight reduction to helping with itchy skin and even flea control.
Apple cider vinegar is made through the process of fermenting apples. The fermentation process results in an acidic vinegar that contains acetic acid, as well as some lactic, citric, and malic acids. It works as a pH balancer and digestive aid in the body. Although there are not a lot of scientific studies that confirm these benefits, there are some reports that show positive health results for people and their dogs.
Dogs that are given apple cider vinegar may experience a healthier gastrointestinal system, better coat quality, and fewer allergies. This is because apple cider vinegar helps reduce the inflammation in the body and supports the immune system by balancing the pH. When giving dogs apple cider vinegar orally, it should be diluted with 50 percent water.
The optimal pH range for a dog is around 6-6.5 when measured in the urine and just over 7 when measured with a blood sample. ACV is slightly acidic with a pH of 3.1 to 5. Therefore, not every dog may benefit from oral ingestion of apple cider vinegar if they already have a pH in the optimal range.
When using ACV topically on dogs, it should be diluted 50/50 with water and should never be used undiluted. Pet parents should do a 24-hour spot test to make sure there are no adverse reactions to applying apple cider vinegar topically. Adverse reactions may show up as vomiting, reddish skin, itching, and scratching.
There are numerous benefits of ACV for dogs. It has been shown to help reduce itchy skin. It has also been used to rebalance the pH in the body to optimise immune health. When dogs develop itchy ears or ear infections that often accompany allergies, ACV can be used in mixtures to clean the ears and reduce yeast overgrowth. Diluted ACV can also be added to your dog’s bath when they are experiencing skin conditions. Because apple cider vinegar affects the pH of the body and appears to possess antibacterial effects, it can also be used to help reduce urinary tract infections in dogs.
When using ACV, the organic version with the “mother” should be used for health benefits. This refers to the yeast and bacteria that is formed during fermentation. This form of apple cider vinegar is raw, unpasteurised, and unheated and contains the enzymes and live factors that make it beneficial for dog’s health. The label will indicate if the “mother” is present in that product.
Apple cider vinegar comes in different forms ranging from the standard liquid version to homemade topical sprays, wipes, and pill form. When using ACV for dogs, the best forms are to use the liquid version or homemade sprays. Many of the human wipes and capsules may contain other ingredients that can be toxic to dogs, like xylitol. Also, the “mother” version has more beneficial properties than some of the capsules that do not contain the live enzymes.
For GI issues, like excessive gas or burping in dogs, using the liquid version of ACV is the most beneficial. Adding 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar to the water bowl or food once a day is recommended. If adding to the water, ensure there is a water bowl without apple cider vinegar available in case the dog does not like the flavour. Never give undiluted apple cider vinegar directly to your dog.
For skin and ear issues, topical use is ideal using a diluted 50/50 water and apple cider vinegar mixture in a spray bottle or on a cotton ball to clean out the ears.
If your dog has too low of a pH (less than 6), giving apple cider vinegar (which is more acidic) in their food or water may cause side effects, like vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and other GI symptoms. If you give apple cider vinegar to your dog and notice these adverse effects, have your dog’s pH levels checked by your local veterinarian to determine if apple cider vinegar may help.
If your dog has health conditions, like kidney disease, that can lead to a more acidic pH in your dog’s body, these diseases could be exacerbated by giving apple cider vinegar orally. One of the simplest ways to assess your pet’s pH levels are with urine test strips or a pH check by your veterinarian.
Due to apple cider vinegar’s acidity, make sure to avoid getting it in your dog’s eyes. Never give apple cider vinegar undiluted to your dog since it is acidic. Also, never use apple cider vinegar on open wounds, cuts, or sores because it burns. Using ACV too frequently may also lead to dry skin and irritation in some dogs.