This might sound weird but whenever I eat out at some fancy schmancy restaurant, I always look forward to being served freshly baked bread with balsamic vinegar. To some it might be just bread, but it is a great way to kick start a great meal.
You might have heard other dog owners claim that vinegar is good for dogs. But how true is that? Can dogs have balsamic vinegar in their diet?
Dogs can tolerate small quantities of balsamic vinegar but I would refrain from giving your dog any balsamic vinegar as it is made from grapes. Many dogs can suffer from grape toxicity when ingested an adequate amount. If you do wish to give your dog vinegar as a dietary supplement, apple cider vinegar is a safer and healthier alternative.
Let us take a closer look at what goes into the making of balsamic vinegar and whether your dog can reap the health benefits of vinegar.
What Is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is a very dark-colored and intensely flavorful vinegar that works well as a marinade and salad dressing for vegetables.
It is made from grape must which is a combination of grape juice with all the stems, seeds and skin still attached.
This mixture is then boiled, fermented and acidified in wooden barrels for 12-25 years to get that sweet yet tangy taste.
However, in this day and age, waiting two to three decades for the traditional balsamic vinegar to be ready is far too long.
Manufacturers will add wine vinegar to speed up the process to just two to three months.
Can Dogs Have Balsamic Vinegar?
Even though dogs can have some tolerance to balsamic vinegar, it isn’t something that dog owners should be giving their dogs on a regular basis.
There are a couple of reasons why too much balsamic vinegar can be bad for your dog.
Grapes Are Toxic To Dogs
Grapes or anything else related to grapes like raisins or grape juice are toxic to dogs and cats.
And the weird thing is that scientists are still baffled about what makes grapes toxic to our pets.
When dogs eat balsamic vinegar, there are indirectly ingesting grape juice as balsamic vinegar is made from grape must.
Symptoms of grape poisoning include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach upset
- Increased thirst
- Kidney failure in severe cases
Some vets say that all it takes is one grape to be fatal for your dog. While others state that your dog needs to eat 1-2 grapes per kg of body weight to suffer from grape toxicity.
This means that if your dog weighs 35 kg, it needs to add anywhere between 35-70 grapes for it to get dangerous.
Even for humans, that is a lot of grapes but never underestimate the greed of some dogs.
Furthermore, balsamic vinegar is made from concentrated grape must so that’s even more dangerous.
Too Much Acidity
Vinegar does a good job of adding some tartness to our foods but it is way too acidic when our dogs eat balsamic vinegar.
Our dog’s digestive system is very different from ours.
What can seem edible to us can have a direct opposite on our dogs, like acidic foods.
To understand if dogs can handle acid in their food, we just need to look at their natural diet.
Dogs are carnivores but through the process of domestication, they can be considered omnivores. However, the bulk of their diet should consist of pure protein from animal meat.
There’s hardly a need for a dog to be eating anything acidic when its stomach is already so acidic and produces 100x more stomach acid than a human.
This helps dogs consume food that might have gone bad and still be fine.
Too much acid in your dog’s diet can cause:
- Acid reflux
- Excessive drooling
- Weight loss
Is the acidity of balsamic vinegar bad for dogs? If given frequently and in large amounts, it will be.
But it is considered on the low end of acidity with only 4% of acidity.
Your dog doesn’t even have to consume vinegar to overload on acidity. Even sweet foods like strawberry jelly contain citric acid that can give your dog acid reflux.
Most of the above symptoms can be resolved with a change in your dog’s diet and some medication from the vet.
Some Balsamic Vinegar Contains Lead
It was claimed that many balsamic and red wine vinegar contains traces of lead in them. This could be due to the manufacturing process or the grapes absorbing the lead in the soil.
Lead is a very toxic substance and can cause the following in dogs:
- Upset stomach
- Neurological damage
- Improper brain development in puppies
If a human were to eat one tablespoon of balsamic vinegar that has unhealthy levels of lead, this can cause a lead exposure that is 7-10 times greater than what is allowed daily.
Given the smaller sizes of our dogs, it would translate to a much bigger problem for them.
It was also found that balsamic vinegars that were aged for the longest time contained the highest amount of lead.
To diagnose lead poisoning in dogs, the vet will have to carry out blood tests, urinalysis or even x-rays.
Medication will have to be given to your dog to help purge the lead from its system.
Not many of us would consider vinegars as a source of sugar but some do, especially balsamic vinegar and wine vinegar.
This can happen in two ways.
The decades-long aging and fermentation process of the grape juice causes natural sugars to be formed. This is why real balsamic vinegar is expensive but there are no added sugars.
Manufacturers that can’t wait that long will add sugar to their balsamic vinegar to make it taste sweet.
This is another reason why you should not feed balsamic vinegar to your dog.
Our dogs have no need for anything sweet in their diet. Whatever sweetness our dogs consume is primarily from the unhealthy human food that we feed them as treats.
Too much sugar in your dog’s diet can cause the following symptoms:
- Canine obesity
- Heart disease
- Oral disease
If you have been slack with your dog’s diet, you need to start making some changes to its food before it’s too late.
Can Dogs Have Salad With Vinegar?
It tickles me when I look at my dog and imagine him going all dainty on a bowl of rocket leaves that’s been lightly drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
And no, there is no need for you to add any balsamic vinegar to your dog’s salad as a dressing.
Why is your dog even having a salad in the first place?
Can Dogs Eat Wine Vinegar?
Wine vinegar is a type of vinegar that has been made with either white or red wine.
Wine contains about 15% alcohol and even though most of the alcohol would be been gone once the wine vinegar is ready, about 2% alcohol still remains.
It doesn’t take much alcohol to be toxic to dogs. This is because a dog’s liver isn’t designed to break down alcohol.
Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:
- Excess Drooling
Basically, your dog will behave like it’s drunk but alcohol poisoning can be fatal for some dogs.
Most vets will try and induce vomiting in your dog if the alcohol was consumed within the last 2 hours.
A drip will also be administered to help restore and balance the electrolytes in your dog’s body.
Can Dogs Have Apple Cider Vinegar?
There are many dog owners who swear by apple cider vinegar and use it as a dietary supplement for their dogs.
Even though scientists claim that there isn’t any nutritional value in apple cider vinegar, the antibacterial and antioxidant qualities of apple cider vinegar can benefit their dogs.
Some of the touted benefits are:
- Keep fleas at bay
- Helps with skin irritation
- Helps to keep ears clean
- Improve pH balance in dog’s body
- Get rid of yeast infection
The benefits seem to be endless but results may vary from dog to dog.
There isn’t an official for dogs but do not give your dog apple cider vinegar as it is still acidic. Dilute a small amount in your dog’s food or water and see if your dog likes it.
The recommended dosage for dog owners who use it is about 1 tablespoon for a 50 lbs dog. Do not give it daily but once or twice a week.
Is Balsamic Vinegar Toxic To Dogs?
It can be toxic if your dog has consumed balsamic vinegar in large amounts. The fact that it is made from grapes and contains some alcohol is a good enough reason to not feed your dog any balsamic vinegar at all.