Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a staple in our home for the well-being of the whole family, including the pets. Besides the fact that we think it tastes great (even the dog), it is key in our holistic approach to preventative healthcare and a natural way to treat existing ailments. ACV contains essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes, most of which are found in "the mother." So, no, you can't just use white distilled vinegar. Though it has its place in the world, it doesn't contain the healthful qualities that ACV with "the mother" does.
There are many brands of ACV, but we use Bragg. It can be found in health food stores and nearly any grocery store, typically where the salad dressings or health foods are kept. Dr. Alicia McWatters, Ph.D., C.N.C. explains the basics:
Many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and substances are available in Bragg ACV to improve the health of your dog. Bragg ACV can provide them with enzymes and important minerals, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, chlorine, phosphorus, iron, silicon and other trace minerals. The vitamins contained in Bragg ACV are bioflavonoids (vitamin P), beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A), vitamin C, E, B1, B2, and B6. Tannins from the crushed cell walls of fresh apples as well as malic acid, tartaric acid, propionic acid, acetic acid and pectin (fiber) are also contained in Bragg ACV. Be sure to purchase organic unfiltered, unpasteurized, naturally fermented ACV for its medicinal features. Bragg ACV ranges in color from a light golden to orange. You'll know you've found the right stuff if you see sediment, referred to as the "mother of vinegar" on the bottom of the bottle. Do NOT buy white distilled vinegar, as it has none of the elements listed above.
So how should you use ACV to help your pet? You can use it mainly as a supplement. Just as I take a tablespoon in diluted water each morning, I put about a teaspoon on N.A.S.H.A.'s food (she's a dog of about eleven pounds). You can also add it to your pet's drinking water, but I prefer to put it in the food because I usually change the water before it's even halfway gone, so she wouldn't be getting the full benefit of the ACV. It will work either way, but comes down to personal preference. You can add about a tablespoon for large dogs. ACV is great for cats, too.
When used regularly as a supplement for your pet, ACV has countless benefits and uses. It helps with overall health, especially for the digestive system and skin.
BENEFITS OF USING ACV AS A SUPPLEMENT FOR YOUR PET:
• overall digestive health
• improves skin conditions, including general itching and allergies as well as hot spots
• coat conditioning
• infections, including respiratory and ear
• alleviates allergies
• flea prevention
• dental health
• improves arthritis
ACV helps balance acid/alkaline levels in your pet's body, so it has also been known to prevent tear stains and urine spots on your lawn. Amazing, right? All of these benefits just by adding a bit to your pet's food or water!
ACV can be used topically, as well. It makes a great natural flea bath. Just soak your pets fur and skin, work it into his coat, then rinse, and say goodbye to fleas. You can then mix about a one part vinegar and two parts water for a weekly preventative flea spray–easy maintenance. The spray can also help with existing skin conditions such as allergies or hot spots. If applied to the coat, ACV can improve shine and help with odor.
A few drops of ACV in your pet's ears can help prevent and cure ear infections. If your pet is prone to ear problems, try the drops on a weekly basis. It can also be used as a natural cleaning solution for the ears when diluted with about 50% water.
Apple Cider Vinegar is relatively inexpensive, especially if you compare the cost to other supplements. And when you weigh in the cost benefits of fewer vet visits and medicines for your pets, it's certainly worth adding to your grocery list!
This article by me appeared in its original form in January 2014 on Hybrid Rasta Mama, a blog to which I contribute regularly, and has been reprinted with minor changes with permission.
Please hop on over to Hybrid Rasta Mama and check out my February 2014 article, "The Basics of Holistic Veterinary Care."