Hot Spots
Natural Remedies

Apple Cider Vinegar Treatment for Hot Spots in Dogs

| Modified on Nov 19, 2023
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Apple cider vinegar is a highly effective natural treatment for hot spots. This simple and inexpensive home remedy can bring sweet relief to your itchy dog and save you hundreds of dollars in vet bills and prescriptions.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Hot Spots

First of all, it is best to use raw and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar for medicinal use.

Second, apple cider vinegar must be diluted before using it on a pet's skin! The maximum amount of apple cider vinegar that should be used externally on your dog is 50%. So you would mix 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar in a jar or spray bottle. Apply this mixture to your dog's hot spots 2-4 times a day, or as needed. Many owners notice the dog stops scratching right away. It is fine to repeat the application when the dog begins to scratch again.

If your dog's hot spots are open wounds, you should dilute the vinegar even more. Even 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1/2 cup of water may be enough to bring relief. If this amount seems to bother your dog, try applying some coconut oil to soothe the skin and use a different remedy next time. (Coconut oil is another effective remedy for hot spots.)

What if My Dog Licks the Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is safe for dogs internally. If he licks the apple cider vinegar it will be fine. In fact, many pet owners give their dogs apple cider vinegar mixed into their food daily for its health promoting properties.

Additional Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for Hot Spots

If the hot spots on your dog are a result of flea bites, you will be happy to know that apple cider vinegar is a wonderful remedy for fleas! Many dog owners spray their dogs daily with apple cider vinegar to prevent fleas!

Have you tried apple cider vinegar for hot spots? Please let us know how it worked for your dog! And continue reading to see how it worked for the four legged friends of our readers.

31 User Reviews

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Posted by Resilience (California) on 07/01/2023

Skin clean and healthy with raw apple cider vinegar

I recently acquired a pug puppy. Her facial skin folds were a little red. And she even had a little blister possibly from heat. She would scratch and try and rub her face on different surfaces. I tried a few wipes specifically for dog folds or wrinkles and they did not help and may have irritated her even more..

So I remembered my organic raw apple cider vinegar. It's supposed to help balance pH and is good for the skin. Looked it up here on earth clinic. Then I made a solution of 1/2 distilled water and 1/2 raw vinegar and keep it in the fridge. 3 or 4 times a day I dipped a cotton makeup pad (about the size of a stridex pad) half way into the diluted vinegar wring it out and wipe her folds with it being careful not to get it in her eyes. Then I use the dry side to gently dry the folds. I started doing the same thing for her ears and they are clear. It works so well that I now just do it right before bed and sometimes in the day if she's been playing alot outside.

I also make up a cup/mug of cider vinegar again half and half with water, tap water for this. And dip her toes in it for a full minute or two when they start to smell like corn chips. I pour the left over solution over her back and work it into her fur and her fur is very clean and shiny. I don't rinse it off just dry with a towel. I only rinse or wash her when she is visibly dirty. Her skin is beautiful and soft. Not dry or flaky. No visible irritation at all.

Sometimes she takes a little sip of the cider water when I'm soaking her feet. I just let her. I usually give her a couple of treats to encourage her to stay still. A minute is a long time for her. I am down to only a couple paw soaks a week.

Note: She only smells like vinegar while she is wet. No smell when dry. No perfume or chemical smell either. Just clean soft shiny puppy that I love to cuddle and is allowed on the furniture.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Gina (Saratoga Springs, Ut.) on 05/25/2017

ACV, great healing remedyA, but now what?

I have a 10 year old Bichon who has a hotspot on his front leg. I have treated it with all the the home remedies mentioned. It has healed and the hair has grown back. He has been wearing a collar during his treatments. Our problem is now, even though it has healed, whenever I take off the collar he goes right back to licking the same healed spot. He has had some problems almost like ptsd.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can wean him of having to wear the collar forever?

Replied by Mary

Hi Gina,

Sounds like he has still has pain in that leg. Could it be arthritis or something going on in the bone or joints? Have you tried turmeric capsules in a pill pocket? How about a daily massage. He could have referred pain from another area of his body. If he has ptsd, I think that will help as would rescue remedy.

Replied by Theresa
(Mpls., Mn)

Hey Gina,

2 things come to mind. First, are you feeding a grain free diet? Make sure ALL treats and anything eaten is grain free and free of red dyes and other chemicals. Next, consider a chiro for your dog. Dogs that lick their front feet or front legs may have neck pain - so consider checking that out.

Replied by Nancee
(Kelowna, B.c.)

I was just reading Dr. Tobias (vet) about hotspots some times coming from spinal problems.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Karen (San Tan Valley, Az) on 04/10/2016

After reading about using ACV on dog hotspots, I decided to use it in my 2 year kitty, who developed two spots. One near belly button and one much lower on underbelly. This happened last spring and I took him to the vet, who gave him a steroid injection and antibiotics. This worked, but I don't want to subject him to steroids. I mixed up Apple Cider Vinegar a solution of vinegar and water put it into a spray bottle. I sprayed once about 9:30 this morning only. It is now 5:30 and I realized kitty has not chewed or licked all day. He is running and playing as usual. I love this site.

Replied by Gina
(Snyder, Tx)

I need help with article on apple cider vinegar applied to hot spots on dogs. Can you use apple cider vinegar from the grocery store because that is all I have? Desperate to help my chihauhau.

Replied by Suseeq
(Sydney, Australia)

Gina, I can't remember where I read this but coconut oil mixed with lavender oil or liquid probiotics rubbed into hot spot can help.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Lisa (Bremen) on 09/04/2015

I just did my first application by spray bottle of the ACV Solution...for done reason she went crazy...she is now chewing the hot spots more than before and I'm not sure off I should keep going with this. Hoping this is just a reaction to a new thing..

Replied by Bobby

It sounds like she could've used a bit too much apple cider vinegar. She should try diluting it more with water. Perhaps 1/2 cup water + one tablespoon ACV.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Michelle (Chicago) on 08/23/2015

I used 1 cup water to 1/2 Apple Cider Vinegar. My lab immediately stopped itching didn't itch until middle of the night again. Sprayed again day 2 and no scratching. her "hot spot" is already healed. She has fleas and although this doesn't kill them it helps keep them off her. Thank you ;)

Replied by Melissa

Does vinegar harm my dog, when I spray he licks it?

Replied by Wendy

Make sure you're spraying him with organic Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV - Organic, Raw, Unfiltered, with the 'Mother' ). It will not hurt him to lick it. In fact, adding 2 tablespoons to his food, in addition to spraying him with a mixture of 1/2 distilled water & 1/2 ACV will be very beneficial for him, especially if he has any skin/allergy issues.

NOTE: do not spray any areas on his skin that are open sores or oozing because it will really sting!

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Evelyn (Knoxville, Tn) on 08/19/2015

My dog, Jack, has been driving me crazy with his scratching at his hotspots. But I knew he was more aggravated with it than I was, because I can hear the poor baby whining. So I search the web found "Earth Clinic" and people home remedy cures. My dog now loves me again because I use the remedy of 1/2 c apple cider vinegar and 1 c water. I sprayed him down with this mixture and immediately he quit scratching. This is no joke. Try it you have nothing to lose. Except for one more night of sleep, lol.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Cindy (Illinois, Usa) on 04/29/2015 403 posts

I have a chihuahua who hates having anything done to him. He had a hot spot that I just barely touched with some ACV and water on a paper towel before he squirmed away. I figured I'd have to take him to the vet because I am not one to force an animal to do something they don't want to do. I just can't do it.

Anyway, the next day, the hot spot had scabbed over and the scab was already falling off with no evidence of the awfulness that had been there the day before, under the scab. I was floored. A couple of months later, he had another hot spot and I did the same thing as soon as I noticed - just touched it with some solution on a paper towel, and the next day it was gone. No scab or anything as it wasn't all gooey like the first one which I didn't notice because it was right up under his chin. The second was right on the back of the neck, so I noticed it right away.

So, now he has been shaking his head and having trouble with one of his ears. So, I mixed up some ACV and water - with more water than ACV, about 2:1 - I rolled up a piece of paper towel, dipped it in the solution so that the end of it was soaked but not dripping, snuck up behind him and just sort of poked it into his ear. It was just a paper towel, not tightly rolled so no problem, right?

He hopped around and shook his head a bit and then came over to me as if to say "do that again", so I did, and he yelped and ran off again but hasn't scratched or shaken his head in a couple of hours.

I used to have a Lhaso Apso that had terrible hot spots for months and months until we found a food that didn't bother her. I wish I'd known about the ACV then.

I haven't changed the wawa's food or done anything other than just touched the hot spots with a paper towel dipped in the ACV/water. And when I hit that first hot spot, I used ACV with just a tiny bit of water, so it was mostly ACV, and he took off like a shot! But I had just barely touched it so it worked out anyway.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Laura (Bryan, Tx) on 12/12/2013

I tried ACV for a hot spot on my dog's paw, and within a few days it was gone. All I did was put some ACV on a cotton ball with just a tiny bit of water, and rubbed the spot twice a day. By the next day, it was not oozing, and appeared to be drying up. After about another 2-3 days it was gone. It saved me a trip to the vet and the cost of prescription topical spray.

Replied by Em
(Harvey, La)

I want to know how to use this on my dog she mixed and I have apple cider vinegar. How much to used and how many days because she won't wear no guard or nothing on her foot need help now please

Replied by Kate

How do you keep dog from licking it off?


Don't worry about them licking off the Apple Cider Vinegar ("ACV"). It's good for them! Just make sure you get the organic kind, the one that begins with "Br".

Read up on this site about all the benefits of ACV for dogs and people.

Replied by Mama To Many

You probably can't keep your dog from licking off the apple cider vinegar, unless you use an e-collar, which I am not suggesting. Apple cider vinegar is safe for your pet internally, so it is okay if he licks it off. You may want to apply it more often if he does though. Remember to dilute it - 1/2 water and 1/2 apple cider vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Betsy (Toluca, Il) on 11/26/2012

I just want to say thank you for your website! A couple of years back, I had to take my golden retriever to the vet for hot spots, which of course necessitated an injection of an antihistimine as well as medications to heal the spots. The second time I went, the vet threatened to charge me over $200 to put him out so they could shave the spot and treat it. Luckily, we ended up not having to do that. But I vowed we weren't going to go through that again! We have since discovered on your site the wonders of ACV to treat this! It works wonderfully. We make sure to keep his coat short in the warm months, and if he does develop the hot spots, we treat it with the diluted ACV. The ACV works like a charm every time to dry up the hot spots. I highly recommend it!

Replied by Marlene
(Buffalo, New York Usa)

I am going to try ACV. I have also found patting some cornstarch on hots spots drys them right up, when irritated. I use it on my chow/ lab mix it it works like a charm! I found this out from a holistic, breeder.

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Posted by Salina (Sumner, Ga United States) on 06/26/2012

I tried ACV for hot spots on my 150lb lab and it works great! I have a little advice. My lab was absolutely raw with chewing and licking her back and tail area. I was terrified to use Apple Cider Vinegar on it because she was biting me just when I was cleaning it. I gave her benadryl 3 times a day for 2 days before starting the acv. It was instrumental in stopping the extreme itch all together and allowed her to heal enough so I could use Apple Cider Vinegar without the extreme burning. You can use Benedryl up to 3x a day in pill form. 1mg/for each lb of weight, exp 20lb=20mgs I didn't excede 5omgs. My lab 150lbs=50mgs. You can look up Benedryl for dog online! It stopped her itch all together with the use of a hydracortisone spray! This has been a godsend. Thank you so much.

Replied by Hailey

Hi Salina ... Just to clarify so that someone reading your post doesn't get confused about the dosage of Benadryl when figuring it out. It's actually 1mg/kg NOT 1mg/lb ... That's why you never exceeded 50mg for your 150lb dog ... 150mg would be far too high a dosage!

So, when calculating how much your dog needs, you calculate based upon 1mg/kg of weight. A kg is equal to 2.2lbs of weight.

Whenever I've used Benadryl, I just have a rule of thumb I go by ... Any of my little dogs under 20lbs, I use a half tablet of benedryl (same as I would use for Pepto for an upset stomach) OR a whole tablet (same as I would use for Pepto for an upset stomach) for any of my dogs over 20lbs. My biggest dog is 75lbs. And, anytime, there is access to a children's version or dosage amount (example liquid Pepto has a child dosage amts.) of anything, that is what I use. The dosage needed is more in line with the amount the dogs need or at least require less adjustment. :)

Beyond this clarification so people don't administer too much of the benadryl, I too, am going to try the ACV for hot spots ... my guys seem to have developed a few and I can't explain why. :( But, avoiding an unnecessary vet bill and medicated creams is what I'd prefer if possible! :)

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Rex (Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca Mexico) on 05/06/2012

thank you for this treatment!!! What a life saver..... My red nose pit bull suffers / suffered from terrible cronic hot spots on her but & tail... With in 3 days of using A C V it is well on it's way to being healed the hair is growing back and no more chewing or scratching she yelpped at first but now when she sees the spray bottle she wags her tail knowing it's working WOW I will pass this info on to any dog owner I can. How come vet's would never let you know about something so easy and cheap to use?? this by far is a god send for me........ REX in puerto escondido OAX. Mexico

Replied by Robin
(Vallejo, California)

Do I apply it full strength in spray bottle or diluted? She has little reddish spots on tummy but is icthing all over.

Replied by Rose
(Everett, Wa)

I have spent thousands on vet bills for skin problems that started after my Westie turned 6 years old - of course veterinarians (Vets) all wanted to go straight to steroids, which are a serious, dangerous drug. None of the vets suggested anything topical, which after being a sheeple long enough, I decided to see if the internet had any suggestions. I tried raw, full strength Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), which did seem to help but after a few days, my dog's skin was one big patch of flaky skin in the affected area. I went to a home show where one of the vendors was selling sea salt in oil exfolients, which she sampled on me. It felt good with no stinging or pain. I went home and put sea salt in olive oil, put it on my dog's scaly skin and then washed her with anti-itch shampoo and conditioner from Petsmart. Most of the scales came off and her skin seemed far less red. She has seemed in comfort the past few days with no trips to under the bed to rub her back raw. I put the ACV on first thing in the AM and in the evening. Her skin seems to really have settled down. I weaned her off the steroids about two weeks ago after slowly tapering the dosage down to a tiny pill once per day. It looks like finally after a totally frustrating two plus years of trying everything, including expensive allergy tests, that my dog is finally going to be healed of her hot spots. She has fuzz coming in all over her bald back and her skin isn't inflamed - all without the help of dangerous steroids.

I think the sea salt works because bacteria cannot live in salt - it just pops/kills them, which I learned in a micro-biology class long ago. Sea salt in warm water to gargle with is an excellent way to get rid of sore throats. The vet told me that oil and lubricants would make the hot spots worse, which is why I wash the saline/oil mixture off soon with a bath. Be sure to use ground sea salt. The chunky sea salt is too course but that's what I initially used and it still helped. Next time, I will use ground up sea salt. I do not keep refined table salt in the house because I believe that the human body cannot handle refined foods. It is refined and hydrogenated foods mainly responsible for heart disease and especially cancer. Refined table salt is devoid of all the wonderful trace minerals in sea salt that are good for one's health.

I will be putting sea salt in olive oil (exfolient plus)on my dog on her problem areas from now on before bathing her and then following with 2X per day ACV treatments until she is all healed and then still do it occasionally there after.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Elaine (Frankfort, Illinois) on 04/04/2012

My Schnoodle has allergies and now has developed hot spots on his entire back!

I mixed ACV & water (1/2&1/2) and put it in a spray bottle. ( I used tepid water)

Day 1 Skin red and irritated. Used anti itch first, then sprayed ACV 3 times thru out the day.

Day 2 NO REDNESS and looking promising! Whoo Hoo!! Sprayed 3 times but no anti itch today.

Day 3 OMG we have nothing but scabs left!!

I will continue the spray for another day then I will give him a gentle bath with oatmeal shampoo.

I gave him a special treat after treatment cause he let me do this and I know he was hurting.


Replied by Apollo
(Portland, Or, Usa)

thank you for you for giving the amount of what to mix together.. Very helpfull.... My dog had and still has a couple of hot spots.... His last bad one was in the arm pit... Very bad and pus filled.... I do not know how he could walk because I am sure hit heart like heck.... I would wash it good with hydrogen peroxide... Dry that off good... And then the first day I used powder and the second day I used corn starch and the third day I used neosporin and each time it got better... That forth day it was gone..... Thank you for your input.

Replied by Andrea
(Idaho, US)

Please, please for the love of God, do not use hydrogen peroxide on your animals skin. Especially when it is raw and open. It will eat a hole in their skin. My vet told me never to use that on your animal. Use a mild antibacterial soap and then treat with the ACV.

Replied by Om
(Hope, Bc Canada)

Hi --- H202 = hydrogen peroxide is too valuable to shuck out. Try a solution of 1%. Three % is also good but try on your skin first. This percentage is also inhaled by humans.

I have always used H202 on my rescue animals. I would like to point out that today's salesmen for big pharm. always discredit H202 while it has been used for many years in hospitals and privately. The reason? H202 is cheap, effective for many kinds of needs. So it is being discredited and it seems, people swallow this deception. Even in my own personal experience, whenever I spilled 35% on my skin -NO PROBLEM. I have sensitive skin and just wash the white stuff off with cold water. Pain? hardly worth mentioning. Do research and you will find that H202, Borax, turpentine and kerosene are all discredited for the same reason. Caution is always advised but come on, see the real reason and the meaness of profit racketeering which is also called pharmaceutical terrorism.

All the best, Namaste, Om

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Lia (Eugene, Oregon, Usa) on 01/22/2012

Our 6 year old boston terrier developed a few hot spots from some flea bites that got really inflamed. His hair began to fall out, and we realized there was smelly pus beneath the hair. This was our first experience with hot spots on him, so I was searching frantically for a remedy that wouldn't require a trip to the emergency vet (it was Saturday evening). I am so happy I stumbled upon this forum!

After reading feedback, I decided to use ACV on the spots. I mixed equal parts ACV and water in a spray bottle, saturated all the hotspots with the mixture and wiped away excess with gauze. Unfortunately, he will eat anything with flavor, and found the ACV delicious. I ended up having to wrap the hot spots that were withing licking reach with strips of an old tshirt to keep him from irritating them more. I applied the ACV 3x/day, and by day 2 they had completely stopped oozing and were scabbed over. By day 5, all the redness was gone, and light pink, soft skin had returned! The spots are still mostly bald, but his hair is growing back in slowly. The treatment didn't bother him at all. I'm glad we were able to use a remedy that wasn't toxic. Amazing stuff!

***If hotspots are caused by flea bites, it's important to make sure that your pet doesn't get more irritating bites. I called the vet to see if it would be okay to apply a dose of Frontline while he had hotspots near the application area. She said it was, an it would be the only way to stop the cycle. We live in an area where fleas are VERY hard to control, so I am doubtful that a less potent option would be effective.

Replied by Janet
(Manchester, Ky)

If you want to stop fleas, use garlic in their food, humans can too. Flees wont get on a dog or humans if they have garlic in their system. We found this out when my husband ate a lot of garlic bread just before him an his troops spent the weekend outside in the woods. The guys where covered with flees an ticks an he wasn t at all! Not one. so we tryed it on our dogs putting garlic in their food, and it worked.

Replied by Shannon
(Rockport, Tx)

I have a rat terrier with struvite stones that has caused me to search out help for her without expensive prescription diets. She also has had flea and seasonal grass allergies. Long, long internet searches has brought lots of help. (am excited about this site I just found). Anyway, on the garlic, it must be finely chopped and needs to sit about 10 min. before adding to food. After about an hour, it no longer has the power to help. This is my 3rd month without flea medicine and my dogs are doing good. I also give them a teaspoon of ACV (must have the Mother in it to be effective). I have never had a sick animal and after spending close to $1000 for surgery and vet bills I found that if you love a pet, you will find the time to help them - not give them away........

Replied by London

Doesn't it burn your dog?

Replied by Suseeq
(Sydney, Australia)

Not at all, but do half and half.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Cherie (Birmingham, Alabama) on 07/22/2011

I read the suggestions for apple cider vinegar and water to cure hot spots on dogs. I mixed water and Apple Cider Vinegar in a spray bottle and applied liberally 3 times a day and within 3 days the hot spot was scabbing. I should mention that this pup had 3 earlier spots that he went to the vet for and aside from the cost had a prescription for anti-biotics and a shot. So glad there is an easier and safer remedy.

Replied by Ivis
(Ny, Westchester)

I'm applying cider vinegar on my golden retriever dogs for hot spots. I hope it's worth it for she is suffering with that itch. Please give another tip for this. She is going to the vet and money money & nothing- please help...

Replied by Laura
(Cape Coral, Fl, United States)

My dog started out with a mild eye redness and discharge, so I tried the ACV on the back of her neck and paws. Within a day, she was almost back to normal, and day 2 no more problem. I did this with half and half mixture of Apple Cider Vinegar and water on the paws and between shoulder blades twice daily. It seems tho that the discharge had caused a big chunk of matter in the fur below the eye. Before I could properly wash her face, she had pawed it off and caused a dime sized hot spot. She wouldn't let me near her face, but after a few days and patience, I soaked a round cotton pad in acv/water in held it to the eye as long as I could and the next day she was healing. Its been 2 days and still healing. I did this only twice, am and pm for one day. Hot spots on the face are challenging, and I didn't want to have to use a cone. I am a huge believer in ACV... Thanks to EC..

Replied by Country Girl
(Modesto, Ca)

I have a 20 lb. Pekingese and cannot use a collar so I use a newborn t-shirt so he can't chew on his hot spots. Just cut the sleeves off a little and works like a charm.

Apple Cider Vinegar
Posted by Maria (Massapequa Park, Ny) on 10/15/2009

Hello, My name is Maria. I recently adopted a yorkie terrier from North Shore Animal League. I was told by the vet there that he has a hot spot & he needs to take the medication COSEQUIN every day for the rest of his life. I,ve been breaking the capsule & putting in his dog food every day as the vet told me to do. Now today it seems to have inflammed. I went online to look @ some home remedies & I notice that Apple cider vinegar seems to do the trick. I read how you can put it in a spray bottle. Should I dilute the vinegar w/ water & if so how much? Thank you, Maria

Replied by Betsypear1
(Toluca, Il, Usa)

A few months ago, after reading these successes with ACV, we used some ACV in water in a spray bottle on our dog's hot spot on the side of his face. I'm sorry that I don't know the exact proportions but it was one of the suggestions here. My husband only used it 2 or 3 times because the spray bottle broke. . . But the hot spot healed up very, very nicely and we didn't have to pay the $200 to get him sedated and shaved at the vets, as was being threatened! Very nice. :)

Replied by Cj
(Jackson, Tn)

I came to the internet searching for options to help remedy my dog of her hot spots. Every few years she will get a hot spot (she's a pug). So, I decided to try the vinegar and water method. First of all, I gave her a bath in an oatmeal shampoo for dogs to help her overall itching. I made sure she was completely dry. Then, I used a solution of half ACV and half water. I had an old spray bottle (a previous "hot spot" medicine) and put the solution in this bottle. I sprayed this on her twice yesterday and put a cone around her neck overnight. This morning............... WHAT A DIFFERENCE! She has two hot spots, both of which are dry this morning. Yesterday, they were draining and red and inflammed. Today they are no longer red and dried out. I'm a believer! Thanks!

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