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Puppy and dog chewing is normal behavior because canines use their mouths to explore the world around them (and help relieve teething). But excessive or destructive chewing can be a frustrating problem with some of our furry friends. If you’re looking for the best solutions to deter your champion chewer, you’re in the right place. We’ve got expert tips on how to stop the incessant chomping, including our top picks for the best bitter apple spray for dogs.
At A Glance: Our Top Picks
Is Bitter Apple Spray Safe For Dogs?
By far the most well-known chew deterrent, Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray is widely considered safe for dogs and puppies. However, some people question the safety of the isopropanol (or isopropyl alcohol) in this spray. The consensus among animal experts is that it doesn’t contain enough isopropanol to be harmful to your pup.
According to Merck Veterinary Manual, oral ingestion of isopropanol ≥0.5 mL/kg may result in significant clinical signs in dogs. But the small amount of bitter apple spray that you’d use as a chew deterrent doesn’t contain nearly enough isopropanol to be toxic. And ideally, your pup won’t be licking up the spray because its taste and smell are unpleasant. Still, if you have concerns, we’ve chosen two anti-chew alternative sprays that are alcohol-free for you to consider.
Best Anti-Chew Sprays For Dogs
We typically choose dog products that are transparent about all of their ingredients. However, many anti-chew sprays contain a proprietary blend of bitter agents or extracts. So we chose our products on their reputation, safety, how effective pet owners find them, pricing, and more.
Warning: If you want to use an anti-chew spray to keep your pup from chewing at his skin, get your vet’s approval first. And never apply it to incisions or serious wounds. If your dog is licking or gnawing at a serious wound, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible to make sure your dog hasn’t damaged his healing. An Elizabethan collar is usually the best deterrent in these cases.
Best Overall: Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray
Developed by a pharmacist back in 1960, Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray is the real deal. Six decades later, it continues to be the best-selling and overall most effective anti-chew spray on the market. Grannick’s has no odor for humans, but dogs dislike the smell and taste. Made in the USA, this sour apple spray is non-toxic and doesn’t stain fabric or furniture. It gets consistently higher customer ratings compared to any other anti-chew spray. Still, there are mixed reviews about how effective this product is in deterring pets from licking and chewing.
Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray ingredients include water, isopropanol 20%, bitter principles, and extractives. If you’re thinking about spraying Grannick’s directly on your dog’s skin or fur, contact your vet to make sure the isopropanol is safe to use directly on your dog’s skin. Alcohol can dry out skin, making your dog’s itchiness worse. And it can also cause stinging.
Best Alcohol-Free: Rocco & Roxie No Chew Extreme Bitter Spray
If you’d prefer to avoid a spray that contains alcohol, Rocco & Roxie’s No Chew Extreme Bitter Spray is an excellent option. Rocco & Roxie is a U.S. company that manufactures various safe, high-quality pet products. This spray’s ingredients include purified water, emulsifier, bitter agents, and copaiba oil to help soothe and heal hot spots and other skin irritations.
As with all anti-chew deterrents, this spray works well with some dogs, but others said their dogs liked the taste. But Rocco & Roxie offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Best For Skin Chewing: Bodhi Dog Bitter 2-In-1 No Chew & Hot Spot Spray
Bodhi Dog’s 2-in-1 spray is our top pick for those of you who want an anti-chew deterrent directly on your dog’s skin as well as on household items. This all-natural, alcohol-free spray contains a special blend of ingredients (eucalyptus, menthol, clove, lemongrass, and peppermint oils) to help soothe hot spots and itchy, irritated skin. It also contains bitter agents to help deter licking and chewing.
Made in the USA, this lemongrass-scented spray is produced in small batches to ensure a higher-quality product. It’s also an award-winning product for the quality and company’s practices, including locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, animal cruelty-free production, and eco-friendly recyclable packaging. They also offer a 100% money-back guarantee.
Some customers complain about the overwhelming scent of this spray. And there’s the typical hit-or-miss feedback about how effective it is.
How To Use Bitter Apple Spray For Dogs
The ASPCA recommends starting with a deterrent spray by applying a small amount to a cotton ball. Let your dog sniff it quickly and place it gently in his mouth. If he dislikes the taste, he’ll spit it out. If he shakes his head, drools, or retches, you’ll know he finds the taste unpleasant. Using this method, you’re teaching your pup to associate the odor with the harsh taste, and he’ll likely avoid chewing anything that smells like it.
If your pup doesn’t like the taste, spray the deterrent on objects you don’t want your dog to chew. You’ll need to reapply bitter apple spray every day for two to four weeks until your dog learns not to try to chew the object. Although anti-chew sprays can work, the ASPCA says they shouldn’t replace behavior modification training for destructive chewing.
Alternative Anti-Chew Methods
Taste deterrent sprays don’t work for every dog. Some may not find the taste as unpleasant as others, and some dogs are just too determined to chew no matter what. And even if you use a deterrent spray, it should be combined with the following techniques. Your fuzzy friend needs to learn what’s not acceptable to chew.
If your adult dog is chewing himself or items in your home destructively or excessively, you may need to address any possible underlying reasons. Some dogs chew because they’re bored, anxious, or frustrated. Contact your vet to discuss any concerns you may have with your dog’s behavior. Your vet may refer you to a professional dog behaviorist.
- The simple answer to preventing unwanted chewing is to dog-proof your house, putting everything he’s likely to chew out of reach. But this is unrealistic in some cases. If your dog loves to chew on furniture, pillows, electrical cords, etc., this alone won’t fix the problem.
- Give your furry family member toys to distract him from chewing other items. See our top picks for the best dog toys and indestructible dog toys for power chewers. You may even want to consider some interactive dog toys that help your dog keep himself occupied when you’re busy.
- Provide your dog with natural long-lasting chews, like antlers, pig ears, bully sticks, etc., to keep his jaws occupied.
- Make sure your canine companion is getting enough exercise and attention. If your dog gets bored easily, he may be expending energy through chewing on inappropriate items.
What Do I Do If My Puppy Is Mouthing Or Nipping People?
Another common problem with puppies (and dogs who haven’t been adequately trained) is their tendency to mouth or nip at your hands or feet. In this four-minute video, Kaelin Munkelwitz, celebrity dog trainer, behaviorist, and author, demonstrates some techniques you can use to nip mouthing in the bud.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the questions our readers often ask about taste deterrent sprays.
Does Bitter Apple Spray Work For Cats?
Yes. Cats can identify sour, bitter, and salty tastes (but not sweet tastes). And, like dogs, cats have a more advanced sense of smell, so they dislike anything that smells unpleasant and tastes bitter.
How Long Does Bitter Apple Spray Last?
It would be best if you reapplied Grannick’s bitter apple spray once daily on objects you don’t want your dog to chew. Alcohol-free sprays can last longer (up to a week) before you need to reapply them. It may take a few weeks for your dog to avoid the object entirely, and then you can stop using the spray.
Keep Your Super Chewer Stocked Up With Tough Toys
Giving your pup a toy can be a fantastic distraction to stop him from chewing off-limit items. But finding toys that can withstand powerful jaws is often a game of hit or miss. To keep your aggressive chewer occupied without wasting money on toys your dog destroys in minutes, you may consider signing up for a super chewer subscription box. You’ll get regular deliveries of the toughest toys available, eliminating the hassle of finding them independently.