Features January 2012 Issue

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar to Dogs

Apple cider vinegar and other vinegars have many uses for healthy dogs.

People have been using vinegar for thousands of years, and while most of it goes into salads and condiments, vinegar can be used as a household cleanser, cosmetic aid, and health treatment. Many dog lovers add vinegar to their pets’ food or apply it topically to their best friends. Advocates call vinegar, especially unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar, a wonder food. Is vinegar really a health-improving supplement, a natural preservative, a nontoxic cleaning product, a disinfectant, a source of important nutrients, and an effective topical treatment for canine ailments?

Some of the claims made by vinegar proponents are supported by research while others are not. Here are some facts about apple cider vinegar (ACV) and other vinegars to help you decide whether and when to use it for yourself and your dog.

What is Vinegar?
Its name comes from the Latin words vinum (which means wine) and acer (which means sour). Vinegar can be made from any liquid that contains sugar, which includes everything from fruit juice to plain sugar water. Within a few days of being exposed to air, naturally occurring or added yeasts cause the sugar to ferment, turning it into alcohol. If not interrupted, fermentation continues in response to naturally occurring or added acetic acid bacteria until all of the alcohol becomes acetic acid. This is how wine, beer, and ale are used to create wine and malt vinegars. Some vinegar factories shorten the fermentation process to just two or three days by using modern bacterial cultures and special pumps, but traditional vinegars valued for their culinary use are still made the old-fashioned way.

However it’s made, vinegar has a distinctive fragrance and a low pH. On the pH scale, water is neutral at 7.0, tomato juice is acid at 4.1, distilled white vinegar is more acid at 2.4, and the pH of lemon juice is 2.2. Apple cider vinegar tends to be less acidic, with a pH between 4.25 and 5.

One of the earliest known vinegars was made 5,000 years ago in Babylon from fermented dates. In ancient Rome, fermented rye, figs, grapes, and dates were popular ingredients. Today’s vinegars are made from corn, barley, and other grains; grapes; apples; and other fruits.

According to the Vinegar Institute, an international trade association representing vinegar manufacturers and bottlers, worldwide vinegar sales are now approaching $225 million annually, with the fastest growth in organic vinegars. Nearly half of the vinegar sold in North America is balsamic, with red wine vinegar the next most popular at 13 percent and cider vinegar tied with rice wine vinegar at 8 percent each.

Only 1 percent of sales go to distilled white vinegar. However, distilled white (usually made from corn) and distilled apple cider are the most familiar supermarket vinegars. These inexpensive vinegars are filtered and pasteurized to make them sparkling clear. Better-quality wine, cider, or malt vinegars are often aged for years in wooden barrels to improve their flavor and left unfiltered and unpasteurized.

To vinegar connoisseurs, there’s a world of difference between distilled or rapidly produced vinegar and traditionally made vinegars that are brewed slowly in small batches and aged to perfection. Some gourmet vinegars cost over $200 per 100 milliliters (about 7 tablespoons).

Apple Cider Vinegar

Traditionally made organic apple cider vinegar is widely sold and far less expensive than gourmet balsamics, but it too is valued for its culinary uses. Some popular brands, such as Bragg, Spectrum, Eden Organics, Solana Gold Organics, and Dynamic Health, are made from organic apples that are crushed to make cider, then aged in wooden barrels.

Because it is raw and unfiltered, this vinegar is not clear like distilled vinegars. Instead, it contains a dark, cloudy substance that resembles dusty cobwebs. This substance, called the “mother” or “mother veil,” consists of naturally occurring pectin and apple residues whose protein molecules are connected in strand-like chains. As the Bragg website explains, “The presence of the mother shows that the best part of the apple has not been destroyed. Vinegars containing the mother contain enzymes that other vinegars may not contain due to over-processing, filtration, and overheating.”

Apple cider vinegar is usually light golden brown or orange in color. While the acidity of homemade cider vinegar varies, most manufacturers maintain a 5-percent acetic acid level, which is recommended for the safe pickling and preserving of low-acid foods.

Biochemistry Benefits 
Vinegar has been used medicinally since ancient times. Roman soldiers valued vinegar and water as an antiseptic health drink. Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, prescribed vinegar as medicine.

Advocates credit apple cider vinegar as a nutritional powerhouse, containing an array of vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids, but this is inaccurate. The USDA considers all of those nutrients as absent from ACV, with one exception: potassium. Raw cider vinegar contains about 11 mg potassium per tablespoon (the Daily Reference Value for potassium is 4,600 mg).

Alternate generous sprays of hydrogen peroxide and vinegar for a very effective, inexpensive, and nontoxic antibacterial, anti-viral food and kitchen disinfectant.

One way in which vinegar promotes health is through its effect on digestion. By itself vinegar may not contain significant vitamins and minerals, but when combined with foods that do, it helps the body assimilate those nutrients. Acetic acid, like other acids, can increase the body’s absorption of calcium and other minerals. Some nutrition experts, including Donna Gates, author of the Body Ecology Diet, recommend sipping 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water while eating protein in order to stimulate the body’s production of hydrochloric acid for enhanced digestion.

Vinegar has important antiseptic properties that help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and viruses in the digestive tract. As a bonus, it does not interfere with the body’s beneficial bacteria, which are the immune system’s first line of defense against harmful microbes.

In 2010, the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism published a study showing that vinegar’s antiglycemic properties reduce blood sugar levels that rise after meals in healthy adults. These results agree with a 2006 Japanese study that showed that the consumption of vinegar with food prevented blood sugar level increases.

A 2005 study at Arizona State University tested patients with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes, or no symptoms of diabetes, as they consumed a breakfast containing 87 grams of carbohydrates just after drinking a glass of water containing either 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or a placebo. Vinegar consumption slowed the rise of blood sugar in all three groups, up to 34 percent. Based on studies done with rats or in test tubes, the researchers speculate that vinegar interferes with the absorption of high-carbohydrate foods.

No one is suggesting that vinegar cures diabetes, but the studies mentioned above encourage researchers to further examine the effect of vinegar on blood sugar levels.

Next: Fighting Germs

Comments (23)

In the Herbal Tinctures section of the article, one of the recipes calls for adding garlic (for parasite repellant). Isn't garlic really really bad for dogs, even in little amounts? I seem to recall my dog's vet telling me that and reading a lot of articles about garlic being bad for dogs.

Posted by: oac0005 | March 23, 2015 7:24 PM    Report this comment

will this also benefit cats is there any detriment to kitty cats I realize this is about dogs and the article mentions people but could there be any danger to kitty cats I have both dogs and cats does anyone have any experience? Thank you for this wonderful article

Posted by: carolynrosegoyda | January 25, 2015 10:47 AM    Report this comment

Thanks for the info.
Acid/Alkaline levels are as important to Dog's bodies as our own. I usually add it to my own bottled water but I could never get the dogs to like it. The tip about adding it to Yogurt worked. This is good because it doesn't interfere with the friendly bacteria needed for optimum digestion that the yogurt supplied.. So thanks for that tip. I think I might use it on myself too!

Posted by: aquarius29 | September 12, 2014 6:15 PM    Report this comment

Thank you for the info... I rescued a pup we love and will be using ACV Braggs with raw diet... All new to me...but rescue friend helping me tons... Thanks for caring for animals...:0)

Posted by: Scruf's mom | August 28, 2014 1:39 PM    Report this comment

To all of you complaining about this is supposed to be an article about dog's. ..did you take the time to read all 3 pages to the articles? Not just the first page and then start complaining. . Get your facts straight before you start ripping someone apart.

Posted by: 1eltista | July 20, 2014 8:26 PM    Report this comment

FROM THE BOOK VIM & VINEGAR BY MELODIE MOORE, I read add 1 teaspon of vinegar (it did not specify apple cider vinegar) to each quart of fresh water daily to provide nutrients not found in pet food. I just started this however, I changed Zoeii's (our choc lab) regimen. I mix up 1 quart of water and keep it in a container and give it to her through out the day. I change her water 2-4x a day especially after meals or treats. That's just me. And she doesn't seem to mind. But that is just us. Thanks for all the info it helps.

Posted by: dianedrake | July 17, 2014 11:36 AM    Report this comment

Apple Cider Vinegar absolutely changed not only my life, but all three of my dogs lives as well. The benefits are endless. The hand part for me was finding a way to get them to like eating it. As you probably know, the flavor is very strong. That's why we created KetchPup! The Original ketchup for dogs! It is literally a ketchup for dogs with organic raw apple cider vinegar as one of the 5 ingredients. This product is literally life changing. Freshens breath by killing bacteria on the tongue and stomach permanently freshening breath. It also boosts their immune system. You will literally never go to the vet again. Vets do not want you to know about ACV because they will literally put them out of business. Nothing against them, its just the truth. Phenomenal product that you and your dog deserve!
-The Canine Ketchup Team
The k9 ketchup Co.

Posted by: LeeMalachi | September 17, 2013 10:10 PM    Report this comment

@Esmedoodles, mine wouldn't drink it either. I just mix it in with his food and voila! He doesn't seem to care!
Also I noticed when I was using it in the spring and had it sitting on the counter it was the only place the ants weren't going. We were having terrible ant problems. So I don't know if it repels ticks/mosquitoes but it does ants! And it's very good for digestion and itching. Lot less itching when he was on it, so he's back on it now. :)

Posted by: Andrea J | August 20, 2013 4:12 PM    Report this comment

Well Larry, I am sorry about your personal problems, but I was able to comprehend and read all the pages (and speaking of geniuses there are only 3) before I made my comment and I stand on my remark that the article is of no value re how much vinegar to put in what amount of water for my dogs. Are you by any chance the author? If not then why the vitriolic response with more misinformation?

Posted by: miles | August 20, 2013 2:49 PM    Report this comment

To Miles and others complaining about this article and saying it doesn't contain information on dogs:

See those little numbers beneath the article under "Table of Contents?" The article has four pages, geniuses.

Posted by: Larry B | August 20, 2013 12:08 PM    Report this comment

I am amazed that someone published this article with such useless information as how much vinegar per pound of body weight. Pardon my ignorance but would that not have something to do with the amount of water you are diluting it in to even begin to be relevant? Or does the writer let their dog drink their bowl dry before refiling it? I have 3 dogs who all drink from the same bowls. Any idea how this info could help me? Not important b/c when I read something so incomplete/ignorant/wrong/commercial/etc. in an article I can't help but discount the credibility of the entire article. And it doesn't help my confidence in WDJ either. The whole article could have used an editor for form and content. I would have thought you employed such. Disappointed.

Posted by: miles | August 19, 2013 3:53 PM    Report this comment

More fabulous information for ourselves and our pets! LOVE The Whole Dog Journal. Thank you for sharing this with others so we can keep our animals healthy naturally.

Posted by: YorkieMom | August 18, 2013 7:03 PM    Report this comment

Wasn't this article supposed to be about the benefits of giving apple cider vinegar to DOGS !!! What??

Posted by: Unknown | August 17, 2013 11:49 AM    Report this comment

I had a kennel years ago and started using Apple Cider Vinegar in the water for fleas and hot spots and still do. It has always worked wonders.

Posted by: Linda Parker | August 17, 2013 11:26 AM    Report this comment

Did I miss something? The article's title is the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar to Dogs, and yet I didn't read anything about that. Mostly about adding human digestion. Comments are saying use it for itching, but another says don't spray on skin; another says use for ear cleaning. Could we have an article that deals with how animals can benefit from ways it might be used??

Posted by: Unknown | August 17, 2013 10:39 AM    Report this comment

I must admit I give my dogs a teaspoon once in a while in their food and it gets their stools right back in order if they are a bit off. I also have a Golden Retriever that has a bit of allergy in the spring. She gets itchy in spots....no blood, no constant scratching, just scratching once in a while which increases when having a reaction. I rinse her down after she has been running in the grass, spray her with a diluted apple cider vinegar and water solution and she stops itching. I do this daily in the high itch season for her. I also clean her ears with it. Not one infection this year....lots her first year of life. Love this stuff!

Posted by: juliette m | August 16, 2013 11:20 PM    Report this comment

Let's not get whipped up about the wondrous qualities of vinegar! It has little nutritional value but the value lies in a digestive aid and as a tincture with herbs for various ailments. Remember NOT to put straight vinegar on your pooch. . .especially on hot spots unless you want a lot of licking and perhaps howling. . .it would be good for digestion though. . . haha

Posted by: fred2010 | November 26, 2012 4:01 PM    Report this comment

This is very interesting! I have 3 dogs, and all 3 have allergies. One has a hot spot near her tail, that she bites like crazy every day. I'm going to try the cider vinegar spray there. Most recently, she develpoed a lump under her right eye. At first, I thought maybe she banged into something and the area swelled up. It doesn't seem to bother her, but I don't like the looks of it. It's been there for almost 2 weeks. I've tried a cold compress there, but that doesn't last long. They do have checkup at the end of the month. I hope it is gone by then!!! I will enjoy reading the dog journal!

Posted by: Unknown | July 17, 2012 7:30 AM    Report this comment

This is a very good article about vinegar. my Grandma told me that Vinegar was really good for me and my dad loved red wine vinegar. I was really surprised and actually exited to find such a good explanation on how its made and can be used. Alot more than salad and windows, Im sure you too will be surprised.

Paralee Pierce

New reader

Posted by: Unknown | July 9, 2012 6:44 PM    Report this comment

This is a very good article about vinegar. my Grandma told me that Vinegar was really good for me and my dad loved red wine vinegar. I was really surprised and actually exited to find such a good explanation on how its made and can be used. Alot more than salad and windows, Im sure you too will be surprised.

Paralee Pierce

New reader

Posted by: Unknown | July 9, 2012 6:44 PM    Report this comment

This is a very good article about vinegar. my Grandma told me that Vinegar was really good for me and my dad loved red wine vinegar. I was really surprised and actually exited to find such a good explanation on how its made and can be used. Alot more than salad and windows, Im sure you too will be surprised.

Paralee Pierce

New reader

Posted by: Unknown | July 9, 2012 6:44 PM    Report this comment

This is a very good article about vinegar. my Grandma told me that Vinegar was really good for me and my dad loved red wine vinegar. I was really surprised and actually exited to find such a good explanation on how its made and can be used. Alot more than salad and windows, Im sure you too will be surprised.

Paralee Pierce

New reader

Posted by: Unknown | July 9, 2012 6:43 PM    Report this comment

If you want to give your dog vinegar internally and they don't like the taste, I've found if you mix a spoonful in with some plain yogurt, it's more readily accepted. My dog wouldn't drink her water with ANY vinegar in it.

Posted by: Esmedoodles | December 27, 2011 10:59 AM    Report this comment

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