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Bitter Spray for Dogs: What Is It & What Does It Do?


Dogs chew, bite, scratch, and lick. These aren’t flaws, and your dog isn’t necessarily misbehaving. It’s their animal instincts. Puppies chew when they’re teething, and dogs chew to clean their teeth. It’s only a problem when they’re chewing something that they shouldn’t chew, either because it’s dangerous or because they’re destroying it. 

Bitter spray can help to divert your dog away from antique furniture and rugs that they’ve developed a concerning interest in chewing. Here’s what you need to know about using bitter spray.

What Is Bitter Spray?

Bitter spray is a plant-derived chewing deterrent, usually made from apple, and occasionally lemons. The bitter flavor compounds are removed from the fruit and suspended in a base. It won’t taste sweet, tart, or sour. 

Think about what a cup of triple strong black coffee with freshly cracked peppercorns would taste like. That’s similar to how your animal will perceive bitter spray.

What Happens If My Dog Ingests Bitter Spray?

Ideally, your dog won’t want to ingest bitter spray. That’s the entire purpose of the product. If your dog does lick or chew something with bitter spray on it, there’s nothing to worry about. The ingredients are usually all-natural and nontoxic. 

Worst case scenario, you’ve discovered that your dog has an unusual palette. No need to call the vet. 

See If Bitter Spray Will Work for Your Dog

Although bitter spray works for most dogs, your dog may not mind the taste. If they’re more determined to chew than they are dissuaded by the flavor, there’s no sense in spritzing everything you own with bitter spray. 

Take a bland food, like a piece of unseasoned plain baked potato. Give it a few good spritzes with bitter spray and put it in your dog’s mouth. If your dog eats the potato without complaint, there’s a high likelihood that they won’t care much about bitter spray. 

If your dog refuses to eat it, spits it out, gags, or frantically attempts to get the taste out of their mouth, bitter spray will likely work on your valuable rug. 

Your dog will remember the scent of the bitter spray and avoid anything that smells or tastes like it. It’s important not to use bitter spray near areas where your dog is expected to eat, as spray may accidentally come into contact with your dog’s food or water and deter them from meeting their nutritional needs. 

How To Use Bitter Spray

Bitter spray is extremely versatile. It can be used on virtually anything you don’t want your dog to chew or lick — including the dog themselves.

Apply It to Your Skin

Bitter spray can be applied directly to your skin. This is especially helpful when you’re attempting to deter a puppy from biting or licking when playing. 

If you have a dog that gets a little rowdy and a young child in the same house, applying bitter spray to the child’s arms can discourage the dog from getting boisterously enthusiastic with shows of affection. 

Apply It to Your Pet

Pets that obsessively lick or chew their skin are hard to stop. Putting a cone on your dog’s head isn’t always the most feasible or convenient solution to prevent licking. A lot of the time, there are actually pretty good reasons for licking — a dog may be trying to tend to a wound, relieve an itch, or simply soothe themselves. While the underlying cause of the behavior needs to be adequately addressed, things like bitter spray can help in the meantime. 

Gently spritz the area of your dog’s body with bitter spray. The spray may rub off or settle down over time, so keep an eye on your dog. 

If you notice your dog chewing at the spot again, reapply the bitter spray. It won’t hurt your dog to apply the spray daily, as long as your dog’s skin isn’t broken and there is no rash or underlying skin condition present. 

Use It On Plants

If your dog (or your cat) likes to dig around or chew through your flowers, bitter apple spray is a safe deterrent that won’t compromise the health of the plant. Bitter spray of any variety works as a deterrent for many animals. You may find that squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, deer, and foxes will also stay away from your backyard garden. 

Use It On Furniture

Bitter spray can safely be used on plastic, metal, or acrylic furniture. In most cases, it should also be safe for wood. 

If you’re worried about how the wood will react to the bitter apple spray, use a cotton swab to apply a substantial amount of bitter spray to an inconspicuous part of the wood, such as the upper inner portion of a table leg or the underside of the tabletop. 

Let it sit for two days. If you can’t tell where the spray was applied, it’s unlikely to harm your wooden furniture.

Use It On Fabrics

Bitter spray is safe to use on most fabrics that can get wet. If you can use fabric softener spray on it, you can spray it with bitter spray. 

Just be careful when applying any spray or wet product to dyed fabrics. If the excess dye was not adequately removed from the fabric, any moisture may reactivate it. 

Bitter Spray Is a Deterrent, Not a Solution

While it’s understandable that many pet owners feel a sense of urgency to prevent their pets from inappropriately chewing or licking people or furniture, there is no spray that truly solves the problem. The dog is acting out for a reason. 

Dogs excessively biting, licking, or scratching themselves could indicate the presence of fleas, a rash, a seasonal allergy reaction, or an insect sting. It could also be a self-soothing mechanism that helps your dog cope with emotional distress. 

If your dog is biting or licking you, this could be a form of affection or a way of seeking attention. Your dog could be saying that they miss you or that they need something from you. 

In many cases, excessive licking or chewing behaviors are indicative of your dog’s emotional state. 

Bitter spray can be used after you’ve booked an appointment with your veterinarian. It may hold you over until your vet gets a better look at the situation. 
Your vet may encourage you to reinforce behavioral changes with bitter spray in conjunction with an adequate treatment or wellness plan that prioritizes your dog’s needs. 

How To Keep Healthy Dogs from Chewing

Some dogs may lick, bite, or chew when exposed to certain stimuli. Some dogs don’t react well to thunderstorms, fireworks, or holiday celebrations that pack your house full of people your dog may not be too familiar with. Some dogs have an aversion to car rides, making trips to the vet or to your family’s favorite hiking trail a little more challenging.

Bitter spray can stop your dog from chewing, but it won’t change the way your dog feels. Instead, your dog will be upset and without a coping mechanism. This creates a recipe for a very unhappy dog.

Tools like the VETCBD Hemp tincture and puzzle toys can work together to ease your dog through temporary stressful situations. 

Pet-safe CBD works to promote a calm mood, and puzzle toys give your dog something fun and productive to do. Your calm and preoccupied dog is less likely to react to thunder or speed bumps when they’re relaxed and occupied.



How to Stop Puppy Biting and Train Bite Inhibition | American Kennel Club

Deterring Wild Animals from Eating Your Garden Before You Do | One Green Planet

Pruritus – Itching and Scratching in Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital

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