Q: I’ve read that apple cider vinegar be used as a supplement to assist with dog health. Is this true? — H.W., Chicago
A: According to some reports, apple cider vinegar is everything except, maybe, the fountain of youth. Some websites proclaim that apple cider vinegar improves digestion, as well as teeth and gums, prevents skin problems, assists infections to heal, wipes away tear stains, can serve as an appetite stimulant in sick dogs, and helps improve immune systems. (Presumably, for skin problems, diluted apple cider vinegar is wiped on the pet’s coat. To remove tear stains, similarly wipe with diluted apple cider vinegar. For all other benefits, add to the dog’s food or water.)
The problem is, there’s no scientific evidence to verify these benefits (except the tear staining, which perhaps apple cider vinegar is effective for, but it may also irritate some dogs).
Dr. Jill Cline, a Ph.D. nutritionist and nutrition insight manager at Royal Canin pet food, says, “I am aware that apple cider vinegar has become an area of keen interest for some holistic-type veterinarians. The good news is that there’s no data to demonstrate that it’s harmful (as long as the product is diluted), but then there’s no data to show that apple cider vinegar is beneficial.”
However, there is data to validate that coconut oil (another current craze) is beneficial to coat health and has shown to help dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome (an Alzheimer’s-like condition). It remains unclear but seems possible, if not likely, that coconut oil could also help with gastrointestinal issues and support immune health. In fact, not surprisingly, coconut oil offers benefits to human health, as well.