Is it Legal to Pepper Spray a Dog?

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There might be a couple of instances when a canine attacker is suddenly running toward you, your children, or your dog.

In these moments, you only have a few seconds to react.

You may not want to use a weapon that puts the dog down; all you want is to send the attacker away.

In these cases, some people choose to use a non-lethal weapon like pepper spray.

The question is, if this is your neighbor’s dog or if somebody else owns it, can they press charges against you. Is it legal to pepper spray a dog?

What Happens to a Dog Exposed to Pepper Spray?

Before we talk about the legalities of this, let’s first discuss the effects of pepper spray on dogs.

Deterrent sprays are almost always used to immobilize a human attacker.

However, there could also be instances when using pepper spray on dogs can save you, your loved one, or your pet.

Pepper spray helps repel and immobilize dogs, giving you enough time to escape.

The contents of the spray will cause painful side effects to the canine, which can last for a few hours.

However, more often than not, pepper sprays do not cause long-term health effects on a dog. It might also be challenging to use it on a dog, considering how quick of a target they are.

Generally, pepper spraying a dog does not constitute a criminal offense.

However, there are certain things you must keep in mind if you want to stay out of trouble.

Maximum Amount

The maximum legal amount of content in one pepper spray canister varies from one state to another.

For example, the state of California allows up to 2.5 ounces for every container.

In comparison, the state of New York only allows compact sizes of pepper spray, and an individual may only purchase two at a time.

That said, it is best to consult your local government regarding pepper spray laws and look for pepper spray brands that fit their descriptions of what’s legal.

Nonetheless, carrying and using defensive sprays such as this is legal in all 50 states.

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It is important to note that just because it is not lethal does not make pepper spray legal. After all, it is considered a weapon, albeit for self-defense.

Improper use of a multipurpose defense spray on a dog may cause you to face animal cruelty charges.

You must only use it as a last resort when your or someone else’s life is in danger.

So, before you proceed and look on the market for pepper spray, here are some examples that may paint a picture of when using it on dogs becomes legal and illegal.

  • When you are out in public, and a vicious dog suddenly chases you with the intent to bite
  • When a neighbor’s dog goes into your property and shows aggression towards you, your family, or your pet
  • When you see a vicious dog actively attacking and hurting another person
  • When you see a vicious canine attack dogs and other animals in your vicinity

When Is It Illegal to Pepper Spray a Dog?

  • When a dog wanders into your property, and you want to shoo them away. A better course of action would be to call the owner or animal control services instead of pepper-spraying the dog.
  • When a dog, be it your neighbor’s or your own, is barking incessantly, and you want to silence it. Pepper spray is a defense weapon, not a substitute or a tool for behavioral training.
  • When you are wandering in public and a dog is barking at you. You will possibly face legal action if you pepper spray a dog that’s not out to harm you.

How To Efficiently Choose and Use a Pepper Spray

If you want to stay safe from perpetrators with pepper spray, be it another person or a vicious dog, you want to make sure you have the right one, and you know how to use it efficiently.

Here are some important reminders that should help you out.

Make sure it’s accessible.

This tool is almost always used for self-defense purposes and emergencies. That’s why pepper spray companies ensure that the canister is easy to handle.

Aside from being an affordable option, choose a compact pepper spray that can fit in your pocket, allowing you to access it at any given time.

Some even offer a keychain option that allows you to hang the pepper spray canister onto your belt clip or bag.

After all, there is no such thing as an effective pepper spray if you don’t get to use it when you need it most.

Maintain an effective but safe distance.

You also want to make sure you’re using it from an effective range.

Otherwise, you are going to exhaust the entire canister without sending the attacking animal away.

To determine the ideal distance of when to use the tool, try using it first at home.

Be sure to wear a mask and to use it in an open area where the wind is blowing away from you.

Doing this will give you a general idea of when to effectively spray it during aggressive dog attacks.

Pepper Spraying a Dog

Using deterrent sprays is important to ensure your maximum safety.

However, when there is a more humane option to send an aggressive animal away, you should choose that alternative.

This is particularly true for dogs whom we know are owned by people close to us.

While it does not result in any long-lasting effects, and we might be free from criminal charges from law enforcement agencies, pepper spraying a dog causes obvious discomfort to the animal.

The side effects may last for up to 45 minutes. Plus, there’s also the risk of spraying it on yourself, making you experience the same marked discomfort.

Even though spraying a dog is legal, we should try our best to choose a harmless alternative unless we’re at a bite risk.

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