People carry pepper spray in self-defense against human and animal attackers. Pepper spray is a must-carry in certain situations where you are most likely to encounter animal attacks, such as 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, and 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, pepper spray is the best strategy for defending yourself against an animal attack. 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 must spray pepper 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 it 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 of 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.
- 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.
- Slowly remove the pepper spray canister from your bag. Do not make any sudden movements.
- Disable the safety and stand about 10 feet away from the attacking animal.
- Aim the can at shoulder length, slightly downwards to the animal’s face, and spray repeated bursts. When an animal comes 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.
- After disabling the animal, run to safety as this only works for a short while.
Living in the countryside makes you more likely to encounter animals like bears strolling into your compound. Besides 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 hiking, 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 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 be 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 spray formulated for dogs since dogs have 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 and 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.
Remember 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, stands 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 to use 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 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 protects 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 mostly tries 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, keep retreating while spraying the bear spray for about 2-3 rounds.
- If it charges, look for a clear path and run; the cloud of bear spray may scare it off your path.
- If possible, try going up a tree or seek shelter in a cabin; 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 escape 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.
Is it illegal to pepper spray a dog or a cat?
It is legal for people over 18 years to purchase and carry pepper spray in the US, and you can easily buy it 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 a stick or rock with it.
Check this too: How to Keep Bears Away From a Campsite
In a country like Canada, pepper spray is only legal to carry if it is for animal attacks and is highly regulated. Also, some sprays are combined with mace and tear gas, which aren’t approved in most places. So you must confirm your local laws and regulations regarding carrying and using pepper 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 its usual effects on dogs. A homemade cat repellent of cinnamon, rosemary, vinegar, and water will easily keep cats away without excessive harm.
It may be wise to carry animal pepper spray if you hang around the woods a lot and need protection against animal attacks. 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.