Apple Cider Vinegar for Dogs: Skin Problems

Last Modified on Aug 11, 2014

Dog Itchy Skin Remedies
You may be able to relieve your dog's itchy skin with apple cider vinegar, a home remedy straight from the kitchen! Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been a trusted natural remedy for pets, animals, and people alike throughout the centuries. Its mildly acidic character and the nutrients it contains are great for the skin, naturally antibacterial and mildly antibiotic, and can improve a dog's overall health when added to its food or water.

Dog skin allergies and skin problems can be improved by this weak acid, since the skin itself prefers a slightly acid pH and since most pathogens do poorly under similar conditions. Red, itchy, and irritated skin are often quickly soothed by a topical ACV treatment, and dietary use of apple cider vinegar can provide long-term improvements for your dog's skin health.

Holistic Treatment for Dogs Using Apple Cider Vinegar

Be careful in your use of apple cider vinegar when your dog's skin is extra raw and inflamed. In fact, in most cases you should dilute apple cider vinegar with equal amounts of water for skin treatment. You can apply apple cider vinegar directly by rubbing it into your dog's fur, or mix it in a sprayer and spray effected patches of skin whenever necessary (watch out for their eyes). Adding up to a tablespoon or so of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar to your dog's water or food each day can also be a great way to treat dog skin allergies and ailments from the inside. The dosage will vary depending on the size and breed of your dog, but if you start with a low dose and gradually increase to what seems to be an effective dosage for your particular dog, you and your pet will be happy and healthier for it!

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Most Popular Remedies:

Skin Ailments11 YEAS

User Reviews

Hot Spots   1  0   

Posted by Ellen (Charles Town, WV)

[YEA]  About a 2 months ago, I began using apple cider vinegar in Lady's water; 3T. to a gallon of water and also spraying it diluted on the areas that she had licked and chewed until they bled. I added brewers yeast and olive oil to her daily meal and used a cone on her head when I wasn't with her to stop the licking. I used a plain aloe and olive oil balm on the skin after the vinegar dried. She doesn't need the cone any more as her skin is great and her hair is growing back in.

Itching, Scratching, Hot Spots   2  0   

Posted by Josephyne (Singapore) on 07/16/2011

[YEA]  I found this website today while researching for home remedies for my puppy which had been scratching her skin and ears for a while now. I took no time to try the suggested remedy - acv. I applied Apple Cider Vinegar on her body and drip a couple of drops into each of her ears and massaged the base of her ears, straight from the bottle without diluting. I also mixed a tsp of Apple Cider Vinegar with her plain yoghurt and she lapped it all up, like she usually does when it comes to yoghurt. I'm very pleased to see that for the past two hours she has not scratched one bit and seemed calmer and even fell asleep, which is quite unusual at this time of night :) ACV works for my precious dog :)

Posted by Yoyoly18 (Buringame, CA) on 06/23/2009

[YEA]  I have a mixed papillon/Pomeranian dog who has been suffering from flea bites, constant itching and bald hot spots. No matter what kind of flea shampoo treatments, or house treatments, getting rid of her beds, toys, etc was helping at all. My neighbor has a cat that roams around freely and believe is the culprit to this problem. I researched high and low on the internet for remedies for two years now and finally landed on this website. I read all the testimonials from dog lovers with similar problem and the positive results they were having. I quickly went to my local grocery store and bought a bottle of AVC; mixed it according to the instructions and I could not believe how quickly within minutes of spraying her she relaxed and stopped itching. I am amazed at this and will share this great remedy to all dog and cat lovers. Thank you all so much.

Posted by Littlerowboat
Roswell, Ga
I would like to say, in regards to fleas and pregnant dogs, if you give your dog a bath it will kill the fleas. I know there are many flea treatments under the sun and none are safe for pregnant pups. Soak her, lather her up with a gentle soap [I use earthbath oatmeal and aloe because it helps soothe the itching or if I'm out I just use my soap which is Dr. Bronners] leave the soap on for 10 minutes and then rinse. You will see all the dead fleas washing away. Make sure you are diligent about washing all their bedding, too.
Posted by Helen
Thousand Oaks, Ca
Soap reduces the water surface tension (Chemistry 101), that's why it drowns the fleas. This is a simple flea killer. No need for pesticides on our dogs.
Posted by Theresa
Mpls., Mn
531 Posts
Hey Helen!

DITTO! A simple flea bath followed by a flea combing and your pet is instantly flea free :)

Mange   1  0   

Posted by Trudy on 02/12/2006

[YEA]  I have had absolute success using Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with water and Borax power. My dog was suffering with mange or terrible flea allergies last October. Well I used this combination regularly for several months and now he has all his fur back, and no itching. I sent in my testimonial back in mid January 2006, it is under the Cure for Demodetic Mange / Remedy #2 Reader Modification by Trudy Barton, in Cynthiana, Ky. I do believe this treatment I gave my Max would not have had nearly the great results if I had not used the organic Apple Cider Vinegar. Please post this cure under the Apple Cider Vinegar cures for dogs. P.s. If my cat were to have a similar problem, I sure would use it on the cat too! You can post my e-mail address.

Posted by Marissa
CAUTION: I have read on multiple sites that Borax is toxic for dogs, with an accumulating effect (it builds up in their body over time). It can be absorbed inside the body through the dogs skin. I would exercise extreme caution in following this advice without researching from multiple sources.
Posted by Theresa
Mpls., Mn
531 Posts
Hey Marissa!

Borax is toxic to dogs - and humans - in ***very*** high doses, much in the same way water or salt is toxic to humans. Ever read about people drinking so much water it killed them? Same deal.

Also, you are incorrect about absorption via the skin:

  • Borax is classified as non-carcinogenic and a mild skin irritant. The high alkalinity of borax is likely what causes skin irritation (just as excessive use of baking soda would cause irritation). There are also several studies in the ToxNet database that show its only a very mild lung irritant and causes no lasting damage. In addition, it does not penetrate the skin well, and is not considered to be bio-accumulative. (Meaning, repetitive use over time does not mean it builds up in your system.)

Source - although there are *many* with this same info:

I can say that I have personally taken borax in water with no ill effects, and given my dogs multiple baths in borax using my bare hands and no ill effects for human or dog - but must admit the demodex mites did not fare so well! ;-)

Rashes   0  0   

Posted by Melinda (Federal Way, Washington) on 01/23/2010

[SIDE EFFECTS]  My five year old mixed breed dog had a bad rash on her belly and back. I read about acv from this web site I gave her 1/2 tsp in her food. The next day she had horrible diarrhea and she vomited soome blood. I took her to the emergancy vet and they did all sorts of tests and found nothing. The vet said it could have been the acv. That was the only thing different in her diet. I DO NOT recomend acv for dogs!

Remedies Needed   0  0   

Posted by Susan (Shingle Springs, Ca) on 11/30/2013

Where can I buy essiac tea locally? regarding apple cider vinegar - how to administer to 50 lb dog?

Posted by Theresa
Mpls., Mn
531 Posts
Hey Susan!

Do a internet search for whole foods coops in your area; essiac tea is available in many places near you.

You can administer ACV in your dog's drinking water; some also mix it in to canned wet food.

A tolerable to the tongue dose is 1/4 cup ACV into 1/2 cup pure water. If you dose your dog's water bowl mix the diluted solution into the full bowl of water or it will be too strong for your dog to wish to drink. You want the ACV with the live cultures /'mother' - so only buy the raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized type.

Can I ask what it is you are wishing to treat in your dog? I find your post under 'Remedies Needed" but it's not clear what type of skin ailment you are dealing with.


Skin Ailments   11  0   

Posted by Rickie (Va, US) on 07/19/2014

My dog has been scratching, biting and licking on her legs and paws and sides. How much ACV do I need to use? Is it 1/2 cup of ACV and 1/2 cup of water?

Posted by Theresa
Mpls., Mn
531 Posts
Hey Rickie!

From EC's page on ACV for dogs:

Dosage and Instructions: Start with a one-teaspoon dose mixed into your dog's food twice a day for a 50 lb dog (adjust accordingly by weight) and if necessary increase up to about 1 tablespoon twice a day for the same size dog. For skin application, you can spray on or rub apple cider in directly, or for sore or open wounds mix the ACV with equal parts water before application to the dog's skin. In the case of pests or parasites, bathe your dog and then apply a 50:50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water. Allow this to air dry on your pet to kill off fleas, ticks, ringworm, etc. and to prevent future infestations and/or infection. You can also spray your dog with apple cider vinegar before going out for a walk, in order to repel fleas and ticks naturally.

Posted by Brian (Richmond) on 12/15/2013

[YEA]  Hey. Apple cider vinegar really works. I have been using it on my dog. No more smell and her fur is growing back.Thanks!!!!

Posted by Fee
Opelika, Alabama
[SIDE EFFECTS]   "I just mixed some ACV 50/50 mix and sprayed it on my Blue Pit (King) and I took him outside to use the bathroom and he went nuts trying to get it off him. He was rolling around all over the ground trying to get it off. Is that normal with a first treatment?
Posted by Theresa
Mpls., Mn
531 Posts
Hey Fee!

Could be a couple reasons why King reacted as he did. Firstly, if King had open sores or broken skin from scratching, spraying straight AVC on his skin would sting like the dickens, so he might have been reacting in pain.

OR, it could just be he didn't like the smell.

Years ago I had an OFRN who loved running on the open prairie; I didn't like dealing with the ticks she always picked up so I got an all natural tick repellant spray and sprayed her down real good before I took the leash off to let her run. Once the leash was off she immediately flopped onto the ground and rolled and rolled, and then took after some bushes and rubbed and rubbed. She had no sores or broken skin - the spray didn't sting her. She just thought it stunk to high heaven and wanted it OFF in the worst way!

Posted by Manchesterterrier (New York, Ny) on 02/19/2011

My Manchester Terrier (miniature) has a fungal infection after taking a course of strong antibiotics. She is itchy with dry skin and hair loss. I've started using ACV on her itchy spots and it seems to help. Should I also give her ACV orally? If so, how much? She weighs 11.5 pounds. Thanks!!

Posted by Julia (Portage, In) on 10/25/2010

I have a 14 year old, 6 lb, Pom with black, scaly, & crusty spots on his underbelly & back. He is sleeping alot & can't stop scratching. This is the first time in his life with this type of problem. He has always been very healthy & active. We had a terrible bout of fleas early this year & I believe this is a reaction to them. We have taken care of the flea problem in the house, the yard & he no longer has fleas on him. We have had him to the vet several times & they have treated him with antobiotics but it has just continued to get worse over the summer & now into the fall. I have read many of the posts regarding rinsing/bathing him with the ACV. I also read comments about putting it in food or water, &/or giving it directly to the pet with a medicine dropper. Is it a rinse or a spray or both? Can I give it to him by dropper? Can I use just plain Apple Cider Vinegar & what is the appropriate mixture? He has been a wonderful pet for 14 years & I hate to see him continue to suffer.

Posted by Francie
New York, US
Check your dogs upper back also as well as his ears, sounds like he has a major yeast infection. The apple cider will help as long as u give it to him in his food, however he needs an organic diet with simple foods with no sugars involved. Read the label on your dog food and if there is any sugar or sugar like substances, dump it. Plain chicken, beef, and veggies, plus brown rice. My dog had the very same thing and he is getting better on the plain diet.

Posted by Robin4max (Nashville, Tn / Usa) on 10/25/2010

I have taken my dog to the vet in the past for his skin conditions. After 3 different clinics and multiple mis-diagnosis, I was finally told he had a severe allergy to flea saliva. Long story short, he ends up with a yeast infection on his skin ~ rips fur, creates open lesions from chewing etc. I have changed his food to Natural Choice Lamb & Rice and he gets the same brand oatmeal biscuit as a treat. He stays inside year round. He did really well for about 9/10 months, but now we're back to it again. I did get him some ACV today and spray his lesions. Usually he'll eat anything he can get to; (and I mean anything) when I put the ACV in his food, he turned it down. How do I get him to eat the ACV? I started him on organic plain yogurt about a week ago. Will the ACV have the same affect if I mix it with his yogurt? He ate that, but I don't know if the ACV or yogurt is affective this way. Thank you so much for taking the time to help us out here. He's a great dog!

Posted by Debbiefudge
Brighton, Uk
20 Posts
Hi. Regarding yeast in dogs. You really need to do loads of research. I have a Shihtzu with severe yeast and I have now found the solution that works for me. The problem is that yeast will feed on so many things. Starch, grain, vegetables even have natural sugars in. As much as I love ACV for many things, don't use it for a dog with yeast allergies. Apple=sugar. Instead, use white vinegar. You have to completely change your dogs diet. The rice, feeds the yeast. Use a good anti fungal shampoo. Make a solution of half water and half white vinegar and use as a final rinse and allow to dry. Make up the same solution and put in a spray bottle and spray your dog, twice a day. Also, put some in a small bowl and put the whole of your dogs paw in, squeeze off the ecess and allow to try. They often get yeast between the toes, then scratch their ears. Make a solution of half white vinegar, hals witch hazel, (as this is drying). Use as an ear wash twice a day. Syringe it down the ear and massage for 1 minute, allow the dog to shake and use a little of the solution to wipe any muck away with a cotton wool ball. Diet is the main thing though. Raw meat and raw bone is best. But my Teddy, will just not eat it. So, I use minced meat. Any kind. Very lightly cook. This is what I give my dog, every day, added to a portion of meat. Half a clove of chopped, fresh garlic. 1 tablespoon of Olive oil. 1 teaspoonful of FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth. Few sprigs of fresh parsley. Half a hard boiled egg. Mix well. Once a week I give canned sardines in oil and add the other ingredients, minus the meat and olive oil. Nothing else. No food scraps. No treats. I also only ever give bottled water to drink. You can add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the water if your pet will drink it.

All the vet did was prescribe antibiotics and steroids. Which of course, make the yeast worse. I don't have to use any chemicals for fleas or worms either, due to the diet. He is already, 99% better. No more scratching either! I don't believe in re-vaccinations either. More chemicals. I hope someone else can benefit from my experiences. I much prefer to go the 'natural' route with my pets.

Posted by Jazz
Blackpool, Uk
Hi, diatomaceous earth is just the best
Posted by Blklab10yrold
Port Charlotte, Florida
Thanx for the info..... Yeh, seems to me WHITE vinegar would be more pure than apple would. Heres my issue..... Im terrified to give my dog plain yogurt due to someone elses comment saying they gave their dog yogurt & the yogurt bloated their dog & killed it. Wish someone knew some facts on yogurt as to whether it's completely safe or not. I can't seem to go on "safe for some" ..... He's been itchy for a long long time & as many things as I've tried, I'm down to THIS now, trying what some have posted on a message board online. I'm even paranoid about letting him drink the apple cider vinegar now.

I will keep in mind about the white vinegar, just wish somewhere there were some guaranteed facts about what a dog can eat/drink and what they can't eat or drink.

Posted by Steve (Murray, KY) on 10/09/2008

[YEA]  After reading the articles about dogs scratching and chewing their feet, I read over and over about using apple cider vinegar as a spray. I was at the point i had to try something, I tried a 50 50 acv and water and also within the first hour i saw results, i use it now at least one time a day and sometimes two, my dobhie/lab mix has been chewing and scratching for 3 years and this is the best i have seen her, i have made numerous visits to the vet, shots and have been giving all sorts of pills i do believe this has given her more relief than anything. i started also about 3 weeks ago giving her a fish oil capsule 2 times a day. pleae if anyone has a problem try the ACV/water solution for your dogs sake. thanks for all the folks who recomended this. from the bluegrass state

Posted by Sharon (Richmond, Virginia) on 09/11/2008

[YEA]  I recently viewed your sit and the Apple Cider Vinegar cured my cocker, Casey, skin enormously. I used this on Casey and after about 3 days I noticed that his skin was healed and his coat was healthy and shiny. This has done wonders for us. I sprayed ACV diluted with equal amounts of water on Caseys coat every morning for 3 consecutive days. Casey is now a healthier dog.

Posted by Michele (Roseville , CA) on 09/05/2008

[YEA]  I have a Pitbull 18 mos and he has been very itchy since i got him. He always was licking his feet, and always getting yeast infections in his ear. Someone at the dog park suggested the vinegar thing and I came home and tried it that day and he has not licked his feet in probably a week now! I couldn't be happier with the results :)

Posted by Adam
Melbourne, Aust
[YEA]   "I have an american bulldog that has had skin and mostly foot allergies for the past 2 years. Spent $$$ on antibiotics and vet bills, that no sooner do I fix one then the next lot crops up. I figured that Apple cider viniger has worked for my gout and cold sores (that I don't get anymore) that I would start feeding it to him. He's a big dog so I give him about 3 tablespoons in his food every night. Been 5 weeks now and his feet are in great condition.
Posted by Misty
Big Lake, Alaska
Thank you! I have an Am Bulldog mix that has the same prob and I have spent so much money on vets and doggie derm its insane!!!! I am a single mother and weekly baths are pretty much out of the question and well.... Not sure about spraying him when he is this itchy so I will start with this and go from there. :)

Posted by Colleen (Pinetown, South AFrica) on 01/01/2008

[YEA]  ACV CURED MY DOGS OF SCRATCHING THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for a wonderful site. I'm a Yorkie mom, who dreamed of having a Yorkie with a show coat. My two babies scratch so much that they have severly damaged their coats, and I'd all but given up on ever having long-haired Yorkies. That's till I doscovered this site. Last night, I bathed both my babies and used ACV in the final rinse water, and within 15 minutes I noticed a marked reduction in the scratching. Within the hour, the scratching had diminised by about 80%. Tonight I bathed they again, using ACV in the final rinse water, and the scratching has completely stopped. I was not sure what quantity to use, so I used 2 tot measures in about 2 litres of water. What a miracle find. By the way, the scratching was NOT as a result of fleas, as I spend a small fortune at the vet each month to keep the fleas under control, but if ACV helps with that too, then I'll be saving so much money. I've also read on your site that ACV promotes hair growth, so who knows, I may have a show-coat Yorkie after all. Furthermore, their coats are shining like mirrors!!! This truly is an amazing find, and I'm so grateful for your site and the information contained therrein. Thanks again for a wonderful site, and keep up the good work.

Posted by Joyce
Brookings, OR
[WARNING!]   "My yorkie has been suffering with a skin condition since getting fleas about a year ago. She wakes us up almost every night moaning as she rubs her back against whatever she can rub it on until areas are sore or inflamed. I found this site last night while researching her condition and just a bit ago tried the ACV. I used a dilution of 1 part ACV to 3 parts water in a spray bottle and sprayed it on her after her bath ( I bathed her with Relief shampoo and let it sit about 5 minutes) as she has always had sensitive skin and reacts adversely to most shampoos. She had one area on her back in particular that she had rubbed until it was inflamed and had a few small sores, which is also why I used a 1:3 dilution. Anyway, I blotted off the excess water after her bath, but she was still quite wet, and started spraying her. Almost immediately she started trembling and I started to notice that a few of the worst spots in the inflamed area were exuding a white foam - similar to what an open sore looks like when you put hydrogen peroxide on it. I grew immediately concerned with the foaming and her (by this time) almost violent trembling, and quickly rinsed off the ACV mixture, blotted her wet coat with a towel and blew her dry. She did not stop trembling until I she was dry and I applied a Tea Tree and E Antispetic cream that i have been using with some success to treat open sores. itching. She seems fine now, and the reaction doesn't seem to have been allergenic, but the area is still somewhat inflamed. My concern is that the ACV, even with a 1:3 dilution, burned her skin. Before applying the cream, the skin in the inflamed area was clearly worse - course and puffy - so now I'm a little hestitant to use it again. In reading some of the other comments, it sounded like some people just spray it on their dogs when they are dry - and used it when their dogs had sores and inflamations...I really wanted - NEEDED - this to work but...does anyone have any insight to offer? Should I dilute it further next time? Should I have not allowed the shampoo to sit for 5 minutes (your supposed to leave it on for 10)? HELP!
Posted by genla
Baton Rouge, La
Pls try for topical use on itchy paws or hot spots Burrows solution wish i could give the brand name.You can buy in the astringent section of your drug store. It is powder u mix with water. You can place paws in solution in bowl long enough to get wet or pour on hot spot or apply solution with saturated cotton ball. It doesn't sting!!! MIRACLE my vet gave me this cure about 14yrs ago (before anibiotics and steroids took over) for my Great Pyrenees that had a huge hot spot - dried it up in a day or so. Also great for people for poison ivy!

EC: More info about Burrow's solution:'s_solution

Posted by Megan
Warner Robins, Ga
This message is for Joyce. If ACV will burn your stomach if you have an ulcer, I am sure it would burn an open sore on the skin, though I would not want to find out. Try healing the sores from the inside first by starting out with a very tiny amount either in their water or food, by tiny like 1/4 teaspoon for one or two days. Increase from there to what the recommended dose is. I am not sure but my dogs are 50 & 100lbs so I use 1 tablespoon/day with them. Smaller dogs I am sure do not need so much. Once the sores are healed on the skin then you can do the spray treatment if needed.
Posted by Minpinlover
Chicago, Il Usa
ACV is a mild antibiotic/antiseptic/antifungal solution. The foaming from your dogs sores was probably the ACV cleaning out the infection. ACV really helps when you are trying to fight off infection. Even in humans :)
Posted by Linda
Clearlake, Calif.
I don't understand so many people having flea problems. I have two dogs, live in a highly infested flea area, but we have no fleas. I use, on a monthly basis, year around, " Revolution", which is a drop you get from your vet, which also keeps the heart worms away, which is caused from mosquitos. you use the drop by putting it on between their shoulder blades. My younger dog does get an itchy problem when the weather turns hot, even though I keep them in out of the heat, his skin still suffers. I have tried the vinegar just today, I hope that works. Thanks for the advice. I know that Apple cider vinegar is good for many things. Linda
Posted by Word-to-the-Wise
Do not, under any circumstances, take Linda from Clearlake's advice and use "Revolution" or "Advantage" or similar flea products on your pet, unless you want to kill both the fleas and your pet. These drops are extremely toxic chemicals, quite literally neurotoxins. Fleas are robust, it takes a strong poison to kill them quickly, and guess what? While that poison usually doesn't kill your pet immediately, it will kill them over time. Luckily for the companies that sell these products, people can't make a connection between using these products and their pet dropping dead or dying from cancer a few years later. Anyone smart enough to be using EarthClinic should be smart enough to know this.

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