It is one of those things that seems to be in every kitchen and carries with it the reputation to solve every problem known to mankind. There are claims that it prevents diabetes, helps to keep skin healthy and young looking, prevents hair loss, cleans your kitchen and bathroom, cures scurvy, helps with weight control, cures constipation, and we could go on and on. It has been said that Hippocrates used it as a health tonic. Apple cider vinegar is known as the healthier alternative to white vinegar when making salad dressing or for some recipes. We cannot vouch for all of these claims but we can take a look at how apple cider vinegar can be used as part of your dog’s health regimen.
Apple cider vinegar is made by squeezing juice from crushed apples and then adding bacteria and yeast for fermentation during which the sugar is turned into alcohol. It is then fermented again and the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria. The process keeps that apple quality that is prized by cooks and lends itself to health claims that are different than plain old white vinegar.
One of the things we need to be aware of for our dog’s health is that she maintains a good acid/alkaline balance in her body. Without this balance, she is vulnerable to bacteria that may cause skin conditions, ear infections, or kidney/urinary tract disease, as well as other unhealthy conditions. These conditions can be treated naturally at home most often, but it is good to remember that, if the condition persists and gets worse, a visit to the veterinarian might be in order. Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a good, natural, healthy treatment for some of these conditions. When purchasing it, look for the organic version which is unfiltered and unpasteurized and which is known to have more enzymes and minerals than the regular version that we are more familiar with for our salad dressing.
ACV may be used orally or topically. For hot spots on the skin, rashes, or thinning fur, take a spray bottle and mix a 50/50 solution of ACV and water. Spray it on the spot and wait to make sure there is no irritation from the vinegar (which is possible, but rare) before spraying again a couple of times a day. This mixture can also be used to clean your dog’s outer ears using a cotton ball and gently removing any debris that might have accumulated. If she is long-eared, it is good to check regularly to avoid rashes or bacteria growth that can migrate to the inner ear causing infections. You can also use this spray to help remove fleas by spraying your dog, massaging the spray into her fur and skin, and then use your flea comb to remove any fleas. If there is an active infestation requiring more weaponry, see below for a flea shampoo that uses ACV.
There are a couple of different ways that ACV can be included in keeping your dog clean and with a healthy coat. Using the same mixture above, you can brush the ACV through your dog’s coat after bathing. Gently brush it through as you would normally brush her and you will see her coat gradually improve with good shine and strong fur. Of course, if there are lacerations of open sores, you do not want to do this until her skin has healed. If you want to create a flea bath for her, mix ¼ cup of mild dish soap, ½ gallon of water, and a ½ gallon of ACV. If there is an active infestation, you might want to have a double dose of the mixture on hand for a second go around, and you might want to do this outside. Bathe her in the solution, avoiding her eyes, by gently rubbing it in thoroughly and massaging it into her skin. When you rinse her, avoid letting the solution drip into her eyes.
ACV can also be administered orally to help with digestion and is a good treatment for diarrhea. It also, with repeated use, can help to treat constipation. You can add a teaspoon of ACV to her drinking water daily. If she is over 50 pounds, then you can double the dose. If the problem is not reversed, it is time to go to the veterinarian to rule out irritable bowel syndrome when diarrhea or constipation is present. You also do not want your dog to have an undiagnosed blockage in her intestine. Another good reason to put apple cider vinegar in your dog’s drinking water is that it will help her to be more resistant to fleas. When using it topically or orally, you will give her ammunition to fight off infestations.
Using ACV by mixing it into her food can help prevent kidney disease or bladder infections. As we mentioned, it is important to keep the urinary acid versus alkali balance in a normal range which is 5.5 to 7.0 for dogs. There are PH strips that you can purchase to test your dog’s balance; they are easy to use and require only a couple of drops of urine. If urinary acid is high (below a 5.5 PH level), the chance of kidney stones or infection is raised. Apple cider vinegar added to food daily (1 teaspoon) will help to ward off these conditions. Kidney disease can be life-threatening for dogs so this is a problem that you want to avoid at all costs. We also know that ACV, given orally mixed in food or water, can help prevent internal parasites such as worms.
Some of the problems mentioned above can make the difference between your dog living a comfortable and long life or one with recurring skin conditions, parasite such as fleas, or serious internal conditions. Apple cider vinegar, which is readily available and easy to use, can provide just what you need to make her life better in a natural and healthy way.