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Bitter Apple Spray: What It Is and How to Use It

bitter apple spray

Bitter apple spray is one of the most common dog chewing sprays to deter dogs from gnawing on household objects. But what is the best no chew spray for your dog?

Inappropriate and destructive chewing in dogs is a common problem. Although we can use a range of remedies to curb the issue, a very common one is bitter apple spray for dogs. There are various kinds of dog deterrent sprays on the market, and bitter apple spray is a common one that leaves an incredibly bitter taste in a dog’s mouth. It can be an effective way to curb licking and chewing on household items such as furniture. 

So what do you need to know about this kind of dog deterrent spray?

Bitter Apple Spray as a Taste Deterrent

Dogs, particularly puppies, explore the world around them with their teeth. Chewing also helps soothe the discomfort from teething in puppies, but it’s not without a cost. Coming back home to your favorite shoes in shreds is the price you may pay for excessive chewing in your pup. 

Chewing in moderation is in a dog’s nature and it’s helpful to guide them to appropriate items.

On the other hand, excessive chewing could indicate pain stemming from dental issues like periodontitis. Your dog may also chew excessively due to boredom resulting from a lack of stimulation and exercise. Underlying behavioral issues such as anxiety could be the root of excessive chewing in your dog to distract themselves. 

Taste deterrents such as bitter apple spray effectively prevent your pooch from destroying your household items. Bitter apple spray has an unpleasant smell and taste that your pup will not want to encounter again. Dog deterrents repel your dog once sprayed onto the problem areas. 

A good anti chew spray for dogs uses a natural bittering agent to deter dogs from chewing on an item. One can simply spritz it on furniture and the smell a lone should repel even the most determined chewer.

Of course, not all bitter apple sprays are equal. Some use unnatural chemicals that can be harmful to your dog. Even common homemade sprays that use ingredients such as apple cider vinegar can cause chemical burns in extreme cases. 

If you worry about your pup ingesting too many unfamiliar chemical substances, the Pawsafe Anti Chew Spray is the way to go. It’s cost-effective and more reliable than household options that can deteriorate and become ineffective quickly.. 

Note: Before using dog deterrents, ensure there aren’t underlying health issues at the heart of the chewing problem. Once you have ruled out medical problems as a likely cause of chewing, you can safely use bitter apple spray. you should also treat behavioral issues like anxiety with the same urgency. 

How Dog Deterrent Sprays Discourage Chewing

Dogs have only a fraction of human taste sensitivity. Despite dogs’ lower sense of taste, they can identify sour, salty, sweet, or bitter. Tasting bitter apple on the off-limit items will definitely leave an impression on your pup- and not a good one. 

Dogs have an impressively strong sense of smell because they have a staggering 300 million olfactory receptors. Human beings have around 6 million olfactory receptors, making a dog’s sense of smell about 50,000 times stronger than that of a human. 

Smell and taste are closely related, so smell will impact how dogs perceive ingested substances. Bitter apple spray is not just sour, but it also has a strong scent that is unpleasant to your pup. Dog repellants work through your pup’s strong sense of smell because dogs wouldn’t want to re encounter them. 

Dog repellent sprays use your canine’s dislike of bitter and spicy flavors to deter chewing. PawSafe Anti-Chew Spray consists of a human-grade bittering agent that effectively discourages dogs from chewing. This agent is also present in household products as a preventive measure to ensure children don’t ingest them.

Bitter apple spray is a common taste deterrent for dogs, among other commercial deterrents. Anti-chew sprays vary in efficiency based on dogs’ different tastes and perceptions of the product.

How to Prepare and Use Bitter Apple Spray

The benefits of using a dog deterrent spray are undeniable. Even if your dog’s chewing is normal, unlike that caused by underlying medical issues, you will benefit from a taste deterrent. Some prized possessions in your house ought to be off-limits no matter why your dog is chewing.

Some people prefer to make DIY bitter apple sprays to avoid the chemicals in commercial sprays.

Preparing bitter apple spray is a relatively easy process because you use common house items. To make the solution. Alternatively, you can purchase ready-made bitter apple spray. Here’s what you’ll need: 

  • Apple cider vinegar (some pet owners opt for lemon juice)
  • White vinegar
  • A spray bottle
  • Water which is optional (especially if you’ll spray the solution on furniture)

The process of making and using bitter apple spray solution is as follows:

Mix apple cider vinegar and white vinegar

When making bitter apple spray, the goal is to get a 2:1 apple cider vinegar to white vinegar ratio. If you are using 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, be sure to mix it with one cup of white vinegar. Ultimately, the amount of each ingredient depends on the area to be covered.

Lemon can be used as a substitute for apple cider vinegar, making the solution smell better. The issue with this replacement is that some dogs actually like the smell of lemon-unlikely, but possible. The point of an anti-chew spray is to discourage dogs from chewing, not encourage them.

Test spray on a small part of the problem areas in the house

Bitter apple spray is unlikely to fade and harm your furniture. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so spray a small portion of the solution to the intended furniture. If there aren’t any unintended consequences after using the spray, it’s safe for regular use.

Test spray on your pup’s skin

Some dogs have issues with not just chewing on objects but also on themselves. Pet owners can opt to spray a bit of bitter apple spray on the dog to minimize this behavior. It is essential to proceed with caution when using dog deterrents in this manner. 

Diluting the solution with some water helps make the bitter apple spray safer and gentler on your pup’s skin. You can add the same amount of water as apple cider vinegar, so 2 cups of water for 2 cups of apple cider vinegar. Never use concentrated apple cider vinegar on your pup’s skin as it can cause a chemical burn.

Some dogs are sensitive to either white or apple cider vinegar. Using bitter apple spray on such dogs’ coats will interfere with their well-being. To avoid unexpected reactions, spray some bitter apple solution to a small section of your dog’s skin and observe. 

Homemade anti-chew solutions are minimally processed, making them a healthy choice as dog repellants. For a deeper look into anti-chew sprays for dogs, read our article covering all you need to know about homemade dog anti chew spray

The only problem with homemade dog repellents sprays is that they usually do not last very long. After leaving the bottle, the acidity of vinegar mixtures should change relatively fast, as will the residual bitterness. This means that you will need to spray often for it to be effective. For this reason, it may be more convenient and effective to purchase a ready made, natural spray that last longer on objects and is, therefore, more effective.

To use bitter apple spray, apply a small amount to a cotton ball and place it directly into your pup’s mouth. 

The taste deterrent is effective if your dog retches, shakes their head, or spits out the cotton ball. These exhibitions of discomfort mean that your dog has connected the unpleasant experience and the smell of the bitter apple spray. After making this distasteful connection, your pup will know better than to chew on items next time.

Repeat spraying on the out-of-bounds items every once in a while to keep the bitter taste from fading. It may take time for your dog to know which items are out-of-bounds for chewing, but they will get the hang of it. Similarly, some dogs are stubborn and may chew right through the dog deterrent.

Is Bitter Apple Spray Safe For Dogs?

It’s important to select your bitter apple spray carefully. Some commercial sprays contain harmful chemicals such as isopropanol, an agent in rubbing alcohol. This is not ideal for dogs who may chew on objects despite the smell. 

DIY chew sprays can have mixed results. Apple cider vinegar mixtures rarely holds its bitterness and acidity long enough to be an effective repellent and extreme acidity can cause chemical burns. So they usually need to be watered down to the point that they may not really bother the dog. 

Adding spices with capsaicin like cayenne pepper can also cause your dog extreme pain and discomfort. Therefore, a natural spray that relies on an effective bittering agents is probably the safest and best bet for chewing dogs. 

Final Thoughts 

Bitter apple spray as a dog deterrent effectively discourages chewing in dogs. Anti-chew sprays like bitter apple solution use dogs’ dislike of bitter tastes and unpleasant smells. Chewing can indicate medical issues such as arthritis as the dog distracts themselves from pain. 

Anxiety and boredom can also lead to chewing in dogs because it offers them stimulation. Chewing is part of a dog’s nature to keep the jaws clean and strong. If along with chewing your dog is lethargic, has a low appetite, and vomits, they may be sick, so visit your vet for diagnosis.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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