Stop Destructive Dog Chewing with This Simple DIY Spray

Why Dogs Chew and How to Stop It

Dogs chew for a variety of reasons, including teething, separation anxiety, boredom, and medical issues according to a survey-based study on chewing behaviors in dogs (Arhant et al., 2021) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168159121001593. It’s important to understand and address the root cause of chewing in order to stop the behavior. For puppies, chewing is a natural part of teething as their adult teeth grow in. Separation anxiety and boredom are other common reasons for destructive chewing behaviors.

There are several training tips to help curb chewing such as providing plenty of exercise and mental stimulation through walks, play time, puzzles, and training. It’s also important to puppy-proof your home and provide appropriate chew toys to redirect chewing instincts. Deterrent sprays and tastes can provide additional discouragement. Ultimately, addressing the underlying cause through training, socialization, and meeting your dog’s needs is key to stopping unwanted chewing long-term.

Potential Risks of Dog Chewing

Dog chewing can potentially lead to several risks that dog owners should be aware of. The main risks include destruction of property, choking hazards, and tooth damage.

Dogs that chronically chew on furniture, shoes, baseboards, and other household objects can cause hundreds or even thousands of dollars in property damage over time. Replacing destroyed items poses a significant financial burden on many families. According to Injury Wisconsin, the average cost of dog bite injury claims increased by 32% in 2022, reaching $64,555 per claim. Chewing-related damage can be similarly costly to repair or replace.

dog chewing damage can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to repair.

Ingesting pieces of chewed up materials also poses a serious choking risk. Small fragments of toys, wood, plastic or cloth can become lodged in a dog’s throat or digestive tract, sometimes requiring emergency veterinary care. Surgery to remove blockages can cost $1,500 or more.

Finally, aggressive chewing on hard surfaces can crack teeth or damage gums. Veterinary dental treatments to repair cracked teeth or perform extractions are frequently $300 to $500. Allowing dogs to chew inappropriately can harm their long-term dental health.

vet bills for chewing accidents average $1,500 or more if surgery is needed.

Trying Commercial Anti-Chew Sprays

There are several popular commercial anti-chew sprays on the market, including Grannick’s Bitter Apple Spray, Fooey Ultra-Bitter Spray, and Chew Guard Spray from Pawsafe. These sprays use bittering agents like denatonium benzoate to deter dogs from chewing on treated surfaces (Source).

Commercial sprays are convenient, easy to apply, and work quickly to stop chewing in many dogs. The strong bitter taste provides an unpleasant sensation when dogs lick or bite sprayed items (Source). Most sprays are safe, non-toxic, andpet-friendly when used as directed.

However, some dogs may ignore or become desensitized to the bitter taste over time. Sprays may also need frequent reapplication on absorbent surfaces. Certain dogs exhibit side effects like increased licking or chewing. Owners should supervise use and watch for any adverse reactions (Source).

Homemade Anti-Chew Spray Recipes

Homemade anti-chew sprays provide a safe and natural alternative to commercial products. Many pet owners have success with various DIY spray combinations using common household ingredients.

Vinegar and lemon juice spray is a popular homemade spray. Mix equal parts white vinegar and lemon juice, approximately 2 cups each. The sour taste deters chewing. Spray items you don’t want chewed (Source).

a popular homemade spray mixes white vinegar and lemon juice to deter chewing.

Citrus oil spray also uses bitter citrus flavors. Add 15-20 drops of lemon, orange, or grapefruit essential oil to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Shake before use and spray items to deter chewing (Source).

Chili pepper spray brings some heat. Mix 10 drops of hot sauce with 2 cups of water. Some also add 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Spray over items vulnerable to chewing. Reapply as needed (Source).

Bitter apple spray uses the plant’s bitterness. Mix 2 cups apple cider vinegar with 1 cup white vinegar. Alternatively, combine 2 cups lemon juice with 1 cup white vinegar. Spray over furniture, shoes, etc. that could get chewed (Source).

Choosing the Right Essential Oils

When creating a homemade spray deterrent for dogs, it’s crucial to select essential oils that are safe for canine use. Some oils, like tea tree and wintergreen, can be toxic to dogs (PetMD). Others may cause skin irritation. The ASPCA recommends avoiding pine, cinnamon, pennyroyal, peppermint, and ylang ylang oils on dogs.

The essential oils considered safest for dogs include lavender, chamomile, citronella, and cedar (Pupford). Lavender oil has calming properties, making it a popular choice. Citronella oil repels insects and deters chewing. Cedar oil has a strong scent most dogs dislike. When diluted and used properly, these oils can make effective homemade deterrent sprays.

No matter which essential oils you choose, always research safety before use. Only purchase high-quality, 100% pure essential oils. And do not apply oils directly onto your dog’s skin, fur, or paws. Mix oils into water-based sprays, using very diluted concentrations suitable for dogs.

Optimal Spray Concentrations

It’s important to properly dilute the ingredients in homemade anti-chew sprays. Using too high of a concentration can irritate your dog’s skin or even cause toxicity. According to https://dogly.com/posts/making-essential-oils-safe-for-your-dog-dilution-chart, the recommended dilution ratio for essential oils is 1 drop per 20-50 lbs of dog body weight in 1 ounce of carrier oil. For small dogs under 15 lbs, 1 drop per 1 tbsp carrier oil is recommended (Marc Smith DVM).

When using vinegar or lemon juice, dilute it significantly as well. Aim for 1 part vinegar or lemon juice diluted in at least 4 parts water. You want the spray to deter chewing, not harm your dog’s skin or health.

Test the spray on a small area first and watch for any skin reactions. If your dog seems irritated or in discomfort, dilute the spray further. It’s better to start with a weaker concentration and increase it slowly if needed.

Application Tips and Tricks

When using a homemade anti-chew spray, there are some application tips to follow for best results:

Spray the deterrent onto cotton balls or bandanas and place them around furniture legs or corners rather than directly spraying wood finishes. The aroma from soaked cotton is often sufficient to deter dogs from chewing (Source).

soaking cotton balls in the spray and placing them on furniture deters chewing.

Only directly spray chewed items and problem areas when needed. Concentrate applications in spots that have already attracted chewing (Source).

Reapply daily or more frequently depending on the chewing determination of your dog.

Make sure to store the anti-chew spray out of your dog’s reach when not in use.

Other Homemade Deterrents

In addition to homemade sprays, there are some other natural deterrents you can try to stop dogs from chewing furniture:

  • Pet-safe cleaners like hydrogen peroxide can be gently applied to furniture to deter chewing. Always spot test first.
  • Wrap furniture legs or corners in duct tape, painters tape, or double-sided sticky tape. The tape’s sticky surface will deter chewing.
  • Cover furniture surfaces like table legs with crumpled aluminum foil. The noise will startle dogs when they try to chew.

While homemade, these deterrents are pet-safe and humane ways to protect your furniture.

When to Seek Professional Help

Most puppies and some adult dogs engage in normal chewing behavior, but occasionally it can become excessive or compulsive to the point of needing professional intervention. According to the ASPCA, if your dog’s destructive chewing is ongoing and leaves you unable to leave them unsupervised, you may need to consult with a veterinary behaviorist or certified dog trainer [1].

Signs that your dog’s chewing has become problematic and requires professional help include:

  • Chewing that stems from separation anxiety or other behavioral issues
  • Consistently destructive chewing when left alone
  • Compulsive chewing habits even in your presence
  • Chewing that leads to the destruction and consumption of hazardous items

A dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist can help identify the underlying cause of excessive chewing and design an effective treatment plan. This may involve behavior modification techniques, anxiety medication, and addressing any medical factors contributing to the behavior. If your dog’s chewing is impacting their well-being or causing damage, don’t hesitate to seek professional support.

Providing Chew Toys and Alternatives

It’s important to provide dogs with appropriate outlets for their natural chewing instinct. Puppies especially need safe chew toys to help relieve teething discomfort and explore the world with their mouths. For both puppies and adult dogs, having a variety of chew toys on hand helps prevent destructive chewing behaviors. Try providing a combination of durable rubber toys, rope toys, balls, and interactive puzzle toys to keep your dog stimulated and entertained (1).

For powerful chewers, toys made of tough rubber like Kongs or Nylabones are good options. Look for toys marketed as “extreme” or “power” chewers for the most durable options (2). Bulldog, pit bull, and other muscular breeds tend to be enthusiastic chewers. However, even smaller dogs like terriers can be quite destructive, so select toys based on your individual dog’s chewing habits.

In addition to toys, food chews can provide mental stimulation. Give your dog raw bones, bully sticks, frozen Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or wet food, pig ears, and other edible chews under supervision. Avoid cooked bones, which can splinter and cause choking hazards or internal injuries (3). Just like with regular toys, it’s important to match edible chews with your dog’s chewing capabilities.

Rotating chew toys helps keep dogs engaged with different textures, shapes, and challenges. Store some toys out of reach so they feel “new” again at playtime. This provides mental enrichment to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.

Sources:

(1) https://barkshop.com/collections/dog-toys

(2) https://www.thesprucepets.com/best-dog-toys-for-tough-chewers-7563640

(3) https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Dog-Chew-Toys/zgbs/pet-supplies/2975415011

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