Does Apple Cider Vinegar Keep Fleas Off Dogs?


You have probably heard that Apple Cider Vinegar is a natural remedy for your dog, and that it can cure everything from an ear infection to repelling fleas.

Picture of apples and a jar of apple cider vinegar

Depending on who you ask, apple cider vinegar is the best thing since sliced bread, others claim it’s all hogwash.

After finding a few fleas on my dog that were causing him to scratch constantly, I decided to put it to the test.

So, does apple cider vinegar help dogs with fleas?

Using apple cider vinegar may help give your dog relief from the effects of fleas, and, may even help to repel a few fleas. However, it does not kill fleas or ticks.

In experimenting with apple cider vinegar on my own dog, I found that although it didn’t actually kill the fleas, it did seem to help relieve the constant itching and discomfort my dog was suffering from.

He had also been flea free for several days after the bath.

However, when it comes to repelling fleas it is hard to tell if it was actually the apple cider vinegar that was keeping the fleas away or something else.

But I do think it may have helped.

One thing to note is that for several days after using the apple cider vinegar my dog did smell fruity.  He also smelled slightly vinegary initially, but that tapered off pretty quickly.

And his coat was very soft and shiny.

So, although the experiment as to whether it can keep fleas off my dog was not definitive one way or the other, I do think the Apple Cider Vinegar rinse helped in soothing his reddened skin and making his coat healthier.

How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar On Your Dog

In my experiment above I used 50/50 mixture of Braggs Raw Apple Cider Vinegar and warm water in a plastic container and poured in over his body at the end of his bath, avoiding his face and inside of his ears.

It shouldn’t matter whether the water is warm or cold, but using warm water may be more comfortable for your dog.

To use this on your dog’s face, pour the mixture in the palm of your hands or a facecloth, then wipe on his face avoiding his eyes and nostrils.

To avoid getting into his ears, you can use cotton balls in them, or simply hold his ears flaps down with your fingers.

Using the diluted apple cider vinegar has calming properties on a dogs’ skin.  However, if your dog has raw open wounds from scratching, the vinegar may sting, so do not use it on him in this situation.

Another way of using apple cider vinegar is by making a flea spray of equal parts water and ACV and spray it on your dog before going outside.

Avoid spraying it directly in his face, but instead use your hands or facecloth as noted above.

Adding a little to his water so he can drink it in when he takes a sip of water. 

Only add about a teaspoon apple cider vinegar to a to your dog’s full water bowl.

Using filtered water may also have better results.

Your dog may not like the flavor of this at first, so having a second bowl of water nearby without the ACV in it will let him know he can get water whenever he needs it but doesn’t like the ACV water.

You Can’t Kill Fleas With Apple Cider Vinegar

Although apple cider vinegar may possibly repel fleas, there is nothing in this stuff that will kill them, unless of course they are drowned it in.

But you don’t need apple cider vinegar to drown them, a simple bowl of water will do that.

When you use the apple cider vinegar what you immediately notice is the smell, it is rather strong.

It’s this smell, along with the taste, that apparently is what discourages the flea away from your dog.

I have put a little ACV in my water and, well let’s just say it’s an acquired taste.

It is very bitter and easy to understand why a flea wouldn’t want any part of biting your dog with this on him.

What does kill the flea is a good soapy bath.

I don’t use a flea shampoo while bathing my dog.  What I use is an anti-itch and calming shampoo from Aroma Paws, and lather him up for at least a good 10 minutes.

But really, just about any pet shampoo will kill the fleas, as long as he is lathered up with it long enough.

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

When you give your dog a bath the flea will try to jump away from the water and shampoo or even burrow itself further under your dog’s hair, that’s just what they do.

They know their days are numbered and self-preservation kicks in.  So they will jump to the head where they can burrow into your dogs’ ears, eyes, mouth and nose.

You really want to avoid having any flea jump onto your dog’s face and ears, because it will be harder to get rid of them at that point.

The best way to avoid that is to soak your dog all over with water first, then start lathering nearest his head, being careful not to get shampoo into his eyes nose and ears, and work your way down.

Be sure to thoroughly lather his paws, top and bottom, and his tail too.

Other Ways You Can 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

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 this as a flea repellent.

It may repel some flea, 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.

One bottle of ACV may last a couple or more months when only using weekly, or even every other week vs. expensive monthly flea treatments from the Vet can save you hundreds of dollars a year!

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