If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what about things made with apples? No, we’re not taking about apple tarts and apple pie. We’re thinking more along the lines of the possible benefits of apple cider vinegar for dogs.

People have been using apple cider vinegar therapeutically for thousands of years. Many dog lovers add vinegar to their pets’ food or apply it topically to their best friend’s skin. Some claim that it can do everything from cure a flea infestation to battle yeast to stop itchy ears and paws.

So what does the science say? Are pet parents on the right track when it comes to this simple supplement? What can we really expect from apple cider vinegar when it comes to our pets?

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs

Normally, when we talk about a food, we work through an impressive list of vitamins and minerals that make it great. But, with apple cider vinegar, that’s not what we focus on. In fact, there aren’t actually a ton of vitamins and nutrients in apple cider vinegar – it contains only trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, except potassium (ACV has 11 grams of potassium in a tablespoon). But despite not being packed with essential nutrients, ACV does have health benefits for people and animals.

First off, apple cider vinegar is proven through research to be:

Acetic acid, the main ingredient in apple cider vinegar, is responsible for many of the benefits. Among its qualities, acetic acid plays an important role in the digestive process, helping to stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid and the enzymes needed to break down fats. It also creates an environment that is hostile to germs.

Thanks to these properties – as well as other valuable characteristics – there are many reasons pet parents reach for ACV on a regular basis. Here are some of the best benefits of apple cider vinegar for dogs:

NOTE: Be choosy when buying apple cider vinegar for your pup. Rather than the perfectly clear, clean golden liquid, you want organic, unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar. Look for something that seems murky, and more brown in color. Floating globs are good! When apple cider vinegar is processed (pasteurized) you lose many of those beneficial components we mentioned earlier.

Awesome, so how can you use it to boost your pet’s health? We’re so glad you asked!

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar with Dogs

To take advantage of the benefits of apple cider vinegar for dogs, you can use it in a myriad of ways: topically as a spray or cleaner, mixed in food, or even just a few drops in your pet’s water dish.

NOTE: Never use apple cider vinegar on broken skin or open wounds. The vinegar will sting if the wound is raw. 

As a cleaner and mild disinfectant. Thanks to its anti-bacterial and anti-microbial properties, apple cider vinegar is an effective pet-safe cleaning ingredient. Mix it 50-50 with water to clean the whole house – kitchen counters, the toilet, even your floors!

To help relieve itchy paws or ears. If your pup chews her paws or scratches her ears a lot, ACV may help. Thoroughly soak your dog’s paws in the diluted vinegar-water mix and let dry. Use a cotton ball or gauze pad soaked in the mixture to gently clean ears. Again, make sure there are no raw spots before using.

For yeast infections. As with itchy paws or ears, if yeast is present, apple cider vinegar may help break it down. Soak paws in the diluted 50-50 mixture and allow to dry.

For bruises or sore muscles. A massage with the diluted ACV mix can help relieve strained muscles. Warm the solution slightly for added benefit, spray on the area that needs attention, then gently work out sore muscles.

For pest control. Spray the diluted mix on your dog’s coat before a romp in the woods to help replenish fleas and ticks. It won’t stop a full-on infestation, but it can help keep these pests away.

To aid digestion. Because of the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar, feeding it can help improve the digestive process. Try adding it to your dog’s water bowl, but start with a small amount and work your way up. Just in case your dog isn’t a fan (some are not), make sure you have a second bowl of plain water available, too. You can also add it to food. Go with something that already has a strong smell, such as sardines or tripe.

Good guidelines for amounts are:

  • 1 tsp for dogs up to 15lbs
  • 2-3 tsp for dogs 50lbs
  • 1 tbsp for dogs over 50lbs

[RELATED] Apple cider vinegar is a key ingredient in bone broth – it’s what helps give it that gelatinous texture. Here’s our favorite bone broth recipe.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs: A Summary

Proponents of apple cider vinegar make many claims about its powers. And research shows that it can do many amazing things. Just be reasonable with your expectations.

While it may not be the miracle cure some claim it to be, the benefits of apple cider vinegar for dogs can’t be denied. As a regular supplement added to food or water to help relieve itchy paws or ears, or even just as a pet-safe way to clean and disinfect the house, it is undeniably valuable. Keep a bottle on hand – you never know when you might need it!