If you believe vinegar has some mystical properties that stop your pooch's hair from falling out, something has gone horribly wrong in the course of your research. However, white and apple cider vinegar are potent taste deterrents that can help stop hair loss caused by excessive licking, chewing and biting.
While lots of scents attract your pet pooch, a few work wonders for repelling her. Of course, you have to stick to substances that are harmless to dogs, and vinegar is a perfect example; it's safe and dogs hate the odor. Taste deterrents are great for keeping your furry friend from getting into your garden and for preventing her from excessive chewing, biting and licking that's causing hair loss, which is a form of self-mutilation. Try a 50 percent watered-down application first over the areas of concern. The hope is that your dog won't be overpowered by the smell on her, but that it will keep her from chewing and licking. If it doesn't work, try increasingly less diluted mixes. Be aware that vinegar stings on open wounds, so check closely to be sure your dog hasn't broken the skin with her teeth. And always consult with a qualified vet about the health and welfare of your pet.
Boredom, under-stimulation, stress, anxiety and other emotional upset can lead to excessive biting and licking that can cause hair loss on your pooch. Because these causes are psychological rather than physical, there aren't other symptoms on your pet's skin that may be aggravated by vinegar (unless your sweetie has broken her own skin). This situation is a good candidate for vinegar taste deterrent to get your doggy to stop self-mutilating. Of course, this is just a figurative bandage for a more serious problem. Use vinegar to stop the destructive behavior, but take appropriate steps to remedy your dog's emotional disturbance. Depending on the cause, this may mean paying her more attention, providing more toys and exercise, making environmental changes, and using a calming medication.
Vinegar for Fleas
A vinegar taste deterrent is a good idea if your pooch has a flea infestation. Her hair loss might be from an allergic reaction to flea bites -- a condition called flea bite dermatitis -- and it might be from excessive chewing, biting and licking caused by itchiness; it also might be from the combination. Vinegar helps prevent your doggy from hurting herself and causing hair loss, and it reduces the risk of her ingesting fleas as she chews her infested skin. Swallowing fleas is a common way dogs get tapeworm infections. The vinegar also helps keep the fleas off your dog, as they don't care for the scent, either. Keep in mind that the fleas are still around, so you'll need an aggressive treatment plan, but the vinegar limits your pooch's suffering in the meantime.
Although a vinegar taste deterrent might help with an immediate problem, your doggy's hair loss needs to be evaluated by your veterinarian. Even though it might look like excessive licking or chewing is the cause, this isn't necessarily the case. Even if it is, something is triggering this behavior -- something that requires a professional diagnosis and treatment. Along with boredom, stress and fleas, other common causes of this form of self-mutilation include food allergies, contact dermatitis and other allergic skin conditions, thyroid disorders and other sources of hormonal imbalances, localized pain, severe dry skin, ticks and mites. Work with your vet to manage the problem to stop excessive biting and licking, hair loss and your pooch's suffering.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Eric Mohrman has been a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on travel, food and lifestyle stories. His creative writing is also widely published. He lives in Orlando, Florida.