Does Apple Cider Vinegar Kill Fleas?

Hanie Elfenbein, DVM
By Hanie Elfenbein, DVM. Reviewed by Hanie Elfenbein, DVM on Jun. 3, 2019

Reviewed and updated for accuracy on June 3, 2019, by Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, DVM, PhD

Fleas are gross. What’s worse is that their bites are painful for your dog, and they can transmit diseases.

Fleas are also really hardy—once they infest a home or an animal, they are difficult to get rid of. While there are many effective ways to fight fleas, using home remedies to kill fleas on dogs is not one of them.

You may have heard that you can use apple cider vinegar to kill fleas, but is that really true?

Can You Use Apple Cider Vinegar as a Homemade Flea Spray?

Using a DIY flea spray of apple cider vinegar on a rug or dog bed will not kill fleas of any life stage. That’s because the acid in vinegar is not strong enough to penetrate the shell of flea eggs or larvae.

And while adult fleas may not prefer a dog covered in apple cider vinegar, they certainly won’t jump off of their food source and die in response to a spritz.

Flea prevention is about sterilizing or killing the flea eggs and larvae. Without that step, fleas will continue to multiply. Since apple cider vinegar does nothing to address those life stages, it is an ineffective homemade flea spray.

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Safe for Pets to Consume?

Apple cider vinegar is a common household product that is reported to have many health benefits for people. Whether or not those benefits are real, dogs and cats are not people, and their bodies are different.

Some websites claim that a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar fed to your dog each day will keep away fleas. Not only is it not an effective DIY flea killer, but it can even be harmful to your pet when ingested.

Vinegar is an acid that can wear away tooth enamel and the sensitive lining of a dog’s esophagus and stomach, and can cause vomiting or stomach ulcers.

It will not change anything about your dog’s skin that fleas care about. They will go right on chewing at your dog.

Some holistic veterinarians may recommend the use of apple cider vinegar for other health concerns. However, this is in typically prescribed in combination with a diet change and other supplements and is always done under close supervision.

While it is a nice idea to use home remedies to kill fleas on dogs, you and your pet are much better off talking to your veterinarian about real flea prevention and treatment.

Gone are the days of homemade flea sprays and daily flea pills. Now there is effective flea and tick medicine that can meet every lifestyle and budget.

It’s much easier to prevent fleas than to have to treat them and the resulting skin infections on your dog.

By: Dr. Hanie Elfenbein

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Hanie Elfenbein, DVM


Hanie Elfenbein, DVM


Dr. Elfenbein graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2016. She currently practices in...

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