Will Apple Cider Vinegar Keep Fleas Off Your Dog?

By Everything Shih Tzu Updated, November 12, 2022
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As you look into alternative flea and tick prevention methods, you may have heard that Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural remedy for your dog that can treat everything from ear infections to repelling fleas and ticks.

Depending on who you ask, apple cider vinegar is either the greatest thing since sliced bread or complete hogwash.

Picture of apples and a jar of apple cider vinegar

However, after discovering a few fleas on my dog that were causing him to constantly scratch, I decided to put this theory to the test, and here's what I discovered.

Apple cider vinegar's pungent odor and sour taste may deter a few fleas from your dog, but it has no effect on ticks and will neither harm nor kill fleas or ticks.

But even though the apple cider vinegar didn't kill the fleas, it did seem to help alleviate my dog's discomfort from the constant scratching caused by the flea bites, when it was used in his bath.

In addition, when using the apple cider vinegar in his bath, his coat was very soft and shiny, and he smelled delightfully fruity for a few days.

So, while the test to see if it can keep fleas off my dog was a little iffy, it appears that an apple cider vinegar rinse has some benefits for dogs.

Keep reading to find out how to use apple cider vinegar to treat fleas on your dog.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar to Help Repel Fleas

Apple cider vinegar is well-known for its numerous health benefits.

It’s rich in vitamins, minerals and essential acids that keep the body healthy and boost immunity.

Apart from being a great additive to salad dressing, drinks and other food recipes, it also may have some good flea-repelling properties.

Here's how we use it...

In a clean squeeze bottle, mix equal parts of Braggs Raw Apple Cider and water to use as a final rinse when bathing your dog.

It likely doesn't matter whether the water is warm or cold, but it may be more comfortable for your dog is you use warm, not hot, water.

After thoroughly rinsing the shampoo out of his hair, pour the mixture over his whole body making sure to avoid his face and inside of his ears.

Pour some of the mixture into the palm of your hand or onto a facecloth, then rub it onto your dog's face, avoiding his eyes and nostrils.

To prevent water from getting into his ears during the bath, you can place cotton balls in them or hold the flaps of his ears down with your fingers.

Another way of applying apple cider vinegar (acv) to your dog is to create a flea spray.

To do this, mix equal parts water and acv in a spray bottle and spray it on your dog before he goes outside.

Avoid spraying it directly in his face; instead, use your hands or a facecloth to apply it as described above.

When diluted, apple cider vinegar can have a calming effect on a dog's skin.

However, this may sting or irritate your dog's skin if they have any open cuts or wounds; in this case, we recommend avoiding the use of apple cider vinegar in his bath.

Your dog may also benefit from a little apple cider vinegar added to his drinking water as it could help with...

  • digestion issues
  • yeast infections
  • allergies
  • joint issues
  • and even remove tear stains

You don't need to a lot, just a teaspoon or less of acv can be added to your dog's full water bowl.

Filtered water may also produce better results.

Keep in mind that your dog may not like the taste of this at first.

So, having a separate bowl of water without the acv in it will ensure that he always has access to water whenever he needs it.

You Can’t Kill Fleas With Apple Cider Vinegar

When you crack open a bottle of apple cider vinegar, you will immediately notice its pungent odor.

Some people believe that this pungent odor is repulsive to fleas, and it will discourage them from settling on your dog and making themselves at home there.

In addition, it tastes incredibly bitter, so it makes sense that a flea would avoid biting your dog if he's covered with it.

But while apple cider vinegar may be effective at warding off these tiny bloodsucking parasites, the vinegar does not contain anything in it that can actually kill fleas.

On the other hand, giving your dog a good, long, soapy bath can.

Using Soap and Apple Cider Vinegar to Kill and Repel Fleas

Although apple cider vinegar may possibly repel fleas, there is nothing in this stuff that will kill them.

Fortunately, a simple bath with soapy water will do that.

When I bathe my dog, I don't use a flea shampoo on him.

Instead, I use a shampoo from Aroma Paws that has both an anti-itching agent and a calming agent and give him a good lather all over for a minimum of ten minutes.

In reality, you don't need a flea shampoo to kill fleas. Most pet shampoos will kill fleas as long as you lather long enough.

However, using a shampoo that calms and soothes your dog's skin is a bonus if he has been bitten by fleas.

When you give your dog a bath a flea will try to jump away from the water and shampoo or even burrow itself deeper into your dog’s hair, that’s just what it does.

It knows its days are numbered and self-preservation kicks in.

As a result, a flea will jump to the dog's head where they can burrow into his ears, eyes, mouth and nose. making removal more difficult.

To prevent this from happening, first thoroughly wet your dog, then begin shampooing his head, taking care not to get shampoo in his eyes, nose, or ears, and then move down his neck, back, tail, belly, legs, and finally his paws.

Make sure to thoroughly lather his legs and paws both top and bottom, as well as his backside, tail and armpits, as these are areas fleas seem to like the most.

After 10 minutes or even a little longer, thoroughly rinse your dog to remove the soap and remove the flea carcasses.

To finish up, splash some apple cider vinegar solution on him.

Other Ways to Keep Fleas Off Your Dog

The great outdoors isn’t the only place fleas like to hangout.

They like to get comfy in a nice warm home too, especially in pet bedding, carpets and furniture.

They’ll hanker down anywhere your pet is.

Keeping your dog’s environment less welcoming to fleas is just as important as keeping them off your dog.

By vacuuming floors and furniture often, and washing his bedding, toys, and other areas your dog hangs out will help keep fleas from getting out of control.

I’ve also heard that salt, food grade diatomaceous earth and boric acid are all drying to fleas and can be sprinkled on your carpets to kill fleas.

Note: Always test first in an inconspicuous area before using salt in this manner

Feeding your dog, a higher quality holistic diet to keep their immune system strong may help in the fight against fleas too.

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Hurt Your Dog

Overall apple cider vinegar will not harm your dog, and is in fact very beneficial for itching and hot spots. However, you should always talk to your Vet when trying anything new on your dog.

You should not use apple cider vinegar on your dog if they have any of the following:

  • Allergies to vinegar.  If you don’t know if your dog is allergic to vinegar or not, always do a spot test on them and wait at least 24 hours and watch to see if your dog starts scratching the area or has any obvious reactions.
  • Open wounds.  Because of the acidity of the vinegar, if your dog has any open wounds, putting vinegar on them will cause a painful stinging sensation.  I'm sure you can imagine what that will feel like.
  • Chronic ear infections.  If your dog has ear infections do not use apple cider vinegar in his ears.  I made this mistake with one of my dogs once, and it only made it worse.  (takeaway lesson… always talk to your Vet first.)
  • If his pH is too acidic.  If you are giving your dog ACV internally, and his pH level is 6.2 or lower, your dog is probably already showing signs of an illness, and giving him apple cider vinegar may worsen his condition.

    Dr Wendy Volhard writes in her book “The Holistic Guide for a Healthy Dog” to use some pH strips to check your dog’s first urine of the day.

    If it reads between 6.2 to 6.5 your dog is where he should be. If his pH is 7.5 or higher apple cider vinegar will help to correct the balance.
  • Daily use of ACV daily is not recommended, as it can cause your dogs skin to become dry and flaky

    Weekly use may be okay, but you should keep an eye on his skin and cut back to maybe every other week should you find it too drying for him.

Final Thoughts

Apple cider vinegar, cedar oil and lemon juice are all natural remedies to help rid your dogs of fleas.

These ingredients have antiseptic properties that kill bacteria or repel insects.

You can mix them with your dog’s shampoo or use them as standalone remedies.

But while these can be helpful to some of your dog's flea issues, they are not a cure all.

There are places that are warmer and with higher humidity than we have here in the Northeast.

These areas may be prone to a higher flea population and should be taken into consideration if using apple cider vinegar as a flea repellent.

It may repel some fleas, but I highly doubt it will be effective for a horde of them.

In this case it isn’t a good idea to rely solely on this method of flea repelling until it is proven to actually work at least 95% of the time.

Like mentioned earlier this isn’t a scientifically conclusive experiment, but I do think apple cider vinegar may have helped to repel fleas so I am keen to try it again.

Especially if it means not having to use those nasty chemicals on my beloved dogs again.

It’s also makes sense economically.

When compared to expensive monthly flea treatments from the veterinarian, one bottle of apple cider vinegar may last several months when used weekly or every other week

This can save you hundreds of dollars per year.

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