People carry pepper spray as a self-defense weapon against both human and animal attackers. Pepper spray is a must-carry in certain situations where you are most likely to encounter animal attacks, such as when camping, hiking, jogging on nature trails or working as a mail person.

However, animal attacks do not only happen in the wild. Animals like dogs, cats, bears can attack you even in suburban locations. Pepper spray is accessible in local stores, affordable, easy to use, effective, and humane to attacking animals. Here you will learn everything you need to know about using pepper sprays against animal attacks and our best pepper sprays in the market.

 How does pepper spray work to keep animals away?

Therefore, the best strategy for defending yourself against an animal attack is the use of pepper spray. But not any spray will do. You will need pepper spray formulated for animals called bear spray or bear deterrent. It is more potent than human pepper spray since it contains different active ingredients- Capsaicin and related Capsaicinoids-

You have to spray pepper spray onto the animal’s face about 10-20 feet away. It then infuses and irritates the mucous membrane in the animal’s nose and eyes. The animal can’t smell or see, is in pain, and is incapacitated to attack, giving you sufficient time to run for safety. The pepper spray effects may vary from animal to animal, but it wears off after an hour or two. Therefore, it is efficient to defend yourself without harming the animal too.

The right way to use pepper spray for maximum efficiency

The first thing you do when you purchase a pepper spray is to familiarize yourself with the can’s safety and trigger mechanism. Practice how to remove it and spray according to the user manual. Also, pepper spray doesn’t work like bug spray. You shouldn’t spray it around your bag or tent and expect it to repel animals. That may attract some animals like bears. You have to spray directly on the animal’s face.

For maximum efficiency, do not use expired pepper spray. Over time the propellant in the spray loses pressure and may fail to fire. Most are beneficial for a period up to up to three years.

It is also essential to have your pepper spray within reach, somewhere on your belt, backpack strap, or in a trouser pocket.

  1. When encountering an animal, try to remain calm. Do not run as this may trigger a predatory response, and you will not manage to outrun it.
  2. Slowly remove the pepper spray canister from your bag. Do not make any sudden movements.
  3. Disable the safety and stand about 10 feet away from the attacking animal.
  4. Aim the can at shoulder length, slightly downwards to the animal’s face, and spray repeated bursts. When an animal is coming towards you, its head is likely lower, closer to the ground; your aim should not be too high; it can’t hit the animal’s face.
  5. After disabling the animal, run to safety as this only works for a short while.

If you live in the countryside, you are more likely to encounter animals like bears strolling into your compound. Other than a physical barrier like a fence, you can use pepper spray to repel animals by spraying on bushes around the compound. The pepper spray will irritate the animal’s noses when it comes into contact with the bushes, and they will stay away.

Pros and Cons of using Pepper Spray on Animal

We now know that pepper spray will temporarily tame an animal giving you time to seek safety. There are disadvantages to using it on an animal. Here are the pros and cons of using pepper spray on animal attacks:

Pros of Pepper Spray

  • The most significant advantage of pepper spray is that it is non-lethal to the animal. It prevents the use of violent force on animals.
  • It is easily portable and lightweight. It is convenient to carry and can fit in a pocket when going hiking and jogging or clasped on a backpack strap.
  • Pepper spray is an effective defense weapon against animals. When used correctly, it can weaken an animal to create enough window of escape to safety.
  • It is easy to use and does not need much training to operate effectively.
  • It is easy to purchase without the need for licenses ad permits. Pepper sprays are allowed without restriction in most states.

 Cons of Pepper Spray

  • Weather conditions can affect the performance of the pepper spray. Wind and rain can reduce your jet’s accuracy and distance and may also spray back.
  • Pepper spray does not affect all animals the same way. It may time to disable the attacking animal.
  • It may be difficult to use in a stressful situation as the target area; the face is relatively small.
  • It may not be useful when dealing with more than one animal.

Experts from a study by the University of Nebraska suggest that pepper sprays are effective against animal attacks, but that effect differs among various animals. We will show how pepper spray affects some animals and alternative defense tactics.

Does pepper spray work on dogs

Pepper spray is a non-lethal way to protect yourself against high aggressive or rabid dogs. Make sure to use pepper sprays formulated for dogs since dogs have very sensitive noses, eyes, and ears. Dog pepper sprays contain 1.0% Major Capsaicinoids, a lower concentration than that used on human or bear attacks. Dog spray will weaken an attacking dog, it will sting, but no lasting damage will happen. Fortunately, dog pepper spray will not kill a dog.

Though it is safe to use, you can try other ways of calming a dog, like walking away or yelling to scare away the dog. Animal cruelty laws are strict in America; therefore, do not misuse or abuse pepper spray.

Keep in mind that dog pepper sprays work on about 70% of the dogs; the other 30% will fight through it. Pepper spray against pit bulls and Rottweilers can be unpredictable, as they may attack even when sprayed. They can inflict terrible injuries when provoked.

 Does pepper spray work on wolves

Chemically, pepper spray will work on wolves; however, since you have to be reasonably close, it may be dangerous to use it. It would be best if you first try to intimidate a wolf. You can yell, throw sticks or stones, wave your arms, and generally make yourself look larger. Predatory wolves tend to feel submissive when animals show dominance. When attacked by a wolf, never run or play dead.

We recently did a more detailed analysis of what pepper spray will do to a wolf. You can check it out here to see the odds and understand why the odds might still be against you if you encounter a wolf pack instead of one wolf.

Does pepper spray work on mountain lions

Pepper spray will most certainly work on mountain lions and other cats like pumas, cougars, or panthers due to their sensitive noses. But the effectiveness is not the problem. Mountain lions are fast and stealthy; therefore, you may not have time to use your pepper spray during an attack.

If you’re dealing with a desperate cat, spraying it with pepper spray will probably make it more agitated and get you injured or, worst, killed. Fortunately, mountain lion attacks on a fully grown adult are very low or rare unless they are sick or starving. They consider the size of their prey, and most adults are bigger and thus, get passed as a target. They are more likely to go after children or when an adult is sitting on bending.

If you notice a mountain lion before it attacks, be calm, stand up straight, spread your jacket out and lift your hands. Talk very loudly but calmly to identify yourself as human. Avoid turning your back on the animal.

Does pepper spray work on bears

Pepper spray on bears is more effective in deterring bears compared to other defense methods. However, personal-defense pepper sprays people use on human attackers will not work on bears.

It would be best if you used bear spray, also known as a bear deterrent. Although both contain Oleoresin Capsicum, the bear spray contains different active ingredients such as capsaicin and related capsaicinoids than in regular pepper spray.

Civilian and law enforcement pepper sprays range from 0.18% to 1.33% Major Capsaicinoids but bear sprays range from 1.0% to 2.0% Major Capsaicinoids. These active ingredients will severely affect the bear’s ability to see and breathe to prevent an attack.

We recommend using a bear spray to create a vapor cloud for at least six seconds and shoot 30 feet or more from the bear. If the bear happens to be closer to you, that is within 15 feet, lie on the ground face down, remove your bear spray and create a cloud of bear spray around you, remembering to keep your neck covered. However, avoid spraying on an inactive bear. You can wait for it to pass by or walk back slowly. A bear usually attacks when it hears sudden noises or when protecting its cubs.

Does pepper spray work on moose

Bear spray will deter a moose due to the active ingredients in it. Pepper spray may not be strong enough for such a large mammal. Moose are generally inactive around humans, but like bears, they do not like surprises. Also, they are strong and swift runners.

Since moose are herbivores, an aggressive one is mostly trying to drive you off. If it walks towards you, try to move backward slowly. In most cases, moving away and making yourself a non-threat should suffice. If the moose still engages you keep retreating while spraying the bear spray for about 2-3 rounds. If it charges, look for a clear path and run, chances are the cloud of bear spray may scare it off your path. If possible, try going up a tree or seek shelter in a cabin, and the moose will go away after a while.

 Does pepper spray work on snakes

Peppers sprays can lightly affect snakes when used correctly. They do not have eyelids, but they have a protective shield over their eyes, so the spray will not blind them. However, pepper spray may hurt their tongue and nasal pits. But for pepper sprays to work, you have to use it from less than 12 inches for about six seconds.

If you do get close enough to make a direct hit of the pepper spray, it will be close enough to get bit. The spray may irritate the snake’s skin, but snakes are also relatively fast and may get to you in agitation.

Alternatively, you can spray ammonia or sulfur. Snakes will run away from their strong odor since they have an elevated sense of smell.

Snakes can be fast on some terrains; it is best to walk away.

Does pepper spray work on alligators

Alligators are not bothered by pepper spray. Since it has a sensitive nose, the pepper spray may irritate the nose, but chances are it won’t react. If an alligator is charging, it is best to run away in a straight line in the opposite direction. Alligators will only run after a human about 30 feet. If an alligator latches on to you by surprise, hit it very hard on the nose and eyes. After a long flight, it may get tired and give up.

Best Pepper Spray for Animal Attacks

We have explored the best pepper sprays for animal attacks in the market to find their best features and pros and cons.

SABRE RED Compact Pepper Spray with Clip

SABRE RED Compact Pepper Spray with Clip

The SABRE RED Compact Pepper Spray is one of the most trusted pepper spray brands by police and civilians. It has a formula of maximum strength that releases a powerful stream to reduce wind blowback. Despite its small size, the canister holds up to 35 bursts and a 10-foot range keeping you at a decent distance from an attacking animal. Its small size makes it portable and with a reinforced trigger swift lock to prevent accidents.

The belt or pocket clip release feature makes it easy to dispense during a surprise attack.


  • Trigger twist lock
  • 35 bursts of 10-foot range.
  • Aerosol
  • UV dye marking


  • Lots of bursts make it convenient against multiples attackers.
  • UV dye marks attacking animals.
  • Less prone to accidental spraying.
  • Easy to use and carry around.


  • It is more vulnerable to blowback than gel spray.


SABRE Dog Spray—Maximum Strength Protector

SABRE Dog Spray—Maximum Strength Protector

SABRE dog spray with key ring is all-natural, safe, and effective for aggressive dogs and other canines. The 14 bursts of powerful dog spray over 12- foot(4 meters) distance protect you against multiple attackers from a safe distance. This dog spray’s formula is safe and non-toxic to dogs; effects wear out after an hour without any long term harm.

It’s compact 0. 75 oz canister comes with a key ring attachment for convenient access.


  • 0% Major Capsaicinoids – The maximum strength allowed by the EPA
  • Keyring attachment.
  • It has 14, 1-second bursts of 12-foot range.
  • It has a 4 Year Shelf Life from the date of manufacture.


  • Very affordable.
  • Long spray range of 12 feet.
  • Most powerful dog repellent on very aggressive dogs.


  • It might not work on a rabid or very agitated dog.

HALT 91427 Dog Repellent

HALT 91427 Dog Repellent

This dog repellent has an excellent reputation with the US Postal Service for over 30 years. It has proven to successfully and safely weaken dogs using its active ingredient, Capsaicin. The canister comes with a belt clip for portability. This 5-inch tall canister streams dog spray up to 12 feet.


  • Recommended by the US Postal Service
  • 12-foot range
  • The active ingredient is Capsaicin
  • It has a belt clip.


  • Long spraying range.
  • Portable using the belt clip.
  • It has many short bursts.


  • It takes longer to take effect on larger dogs.

Is it illegal to pepper spray a dog or a cat?

It is legal for persons over 18 years to purchase and carry pepper spray in the US, and you can easily buy them online or from convenience stores.

There are acceptable reasons to pepper spray an aggressive dog for self-defense reasons, but pepper spray is too strong for cats. Though legal, try to avoid using pepper spray on dogs or cats as your first line of defense. If you had to pick a defense tool, pepper spraying a dog or cat is much safer than hitting with it a stick or rock.

In a country like Canada, pepper spray is only legal to carry if it is for animal attacks and highly regulated. Also, some sprays are combined with mace and tear gas, which aren’t approved in most places. So you have to confirm with your local laws and regulations regarding carrying and using peppers spray on animals.

Will pepper spray kill a cat?

Though natural pepper spray is generally not toxic to animals, 10% pepper spray can kill a cat. Cat repellents have more mild ingredients compared to those in regular pepper spray. Pepper spray can make a cat more sickly compared to the usual effects it has on dogs. A homemade cat repellent of cinnamon, rosemary, vinegar, and water will easily keep cats away without excessive harm.

If you hang around the woods a lot and need protection against animal attacks, it may be wise to carry animal pepper spray. Pepper spray and bear spray will tame most animals until you have time to run away. Despite its success against animal attacks, you should carry other defense tools and learn how to protect yourself and other people from an animal attack.