Try apple cider vinegar – or, as its fans call it, ACV. OK, it isn’t new, but this centuries-old product is enjoying new popularity in canine circles.
Those who are old enough remember when Dr. D.C. Jarvis of Vermont made apple cider vinegar a household word with his 1958 best seller, Folk Medicine. According to Jarvis, native Vermonters used cider vinegar to cure migraine headaches, arthritis, diabetes, obesity, indigestion, and a host of other ailments.
ACV enthusiasts say that the amber liquid has a multitude of actions and benefits for both dogs and people, including:
• Relieves or prevents arthritis
• Improves digestion
• Acts as a urinary system tonic, clears urinary tract infections, and prevents the formation of kidney and bladder stones
• Improves the growth and condition of fur and hair
• Clears the skin of bacterial and fungal infections
• Reduces skin flaking and dander
• Makes one less attractive to biting insects
• Helps prevent food poisoning
• Acts as a natural antibiotic by interrupt- ing the development of infectious bacterial and viral diseases
• Relieves muscle fatigue
• Alleviates itching
• Improves ability to adapt to cold temperatures
• Reduces hock and elbow calluses
• When applied to the ears, clears and prevents ear infections.
Many orthodox veterinarians scoff at such claims because they have never been subjected to the rigours of double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Instead they are supported by personal experiences, testimonials, and other anecdotal evidence.
Barbara Werner first tried apple cider vinegar when her Golden Retriever, Kate, was ten months old. Because the puppy was allergic to chemical flea products, Werner was looking for a non toxic repellent, and a show judge recommended cider vinegar.
Werner began adding ACV to her dogs’ food and drinking water, and she diluted it with water to spray on their coats. That was 11 years ago. Werner has been using it ever since, and Kate is still flea-free.
“In combination with a raw diet and garlic, it keeps biting insects away,” she says, “and I think it improves the dogs’ digestion and makes their coats glossy. I usually add it to the food processor when I puree their raw vegetables, and each dog takes about one tablespoon of cider vinegar per day.” Because ACV is a natural preservative that inhibits the growth of bacteria, it extends the refrigerator shelf life of pureed vegetables to a week or longer, making the blend convenient as well as nutritious.
Because it has a distinctive taste, Tellington TTouch practitioner Karen Doyle, of Chester, New York, recommends cider vinegar as a flavouring agent. “When dogs travel,” she explains, “they are sometimes unwilling to drink water that smells and tastes different from what they are used to at home. Most dogs adapt quickly to the taste of apple cider vinegar and will drink any water to which small amounts have been added. Cider vinegar is inexpensive insurance against dehydration.”