Homemade Bitters to Prevent a Dog From Licking

When your dog's tongue is licking things it shouldn't, bitters can help.
Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Bitters are a taste deterrent spray designed to discourage your dog from licking things he should not be licking, such as a table or chair legs, your legs or even himself. Constant licking of paws or fur can lead to infection and open sores. While bitter sprays are available at your local pet shop, you can make your own with a few common household ingredients.

Step 1

Pour 2 cups of apple cider vinegar into an empty spray bottle. Add 1 cup of white vinegar. Secure spray nozzle on top of the bottle. Shake well to mix. Another option is to mix 2 cups of lemon juice with 1 cup of white vinegar. Mix thoroughly.

Step 2

Apply a small amount of the mixture onto a piece of tissue. Place the tissue into your dog’s mouth to allow him to taste it. If it is unpleasant to him, he will spit it out and sniff it. The idea is that he will connect the smell to the bad taste and will discourage him from licking when the spray is applied. If he seems to like one version of the bitters -- some dogs enjoy everything -- try the other mixture.

Step 3

Spray the bitters onto the objects you want to stop your dog from licking. If the objects are fabric, test a small area to ensure the mixture will not cause discoloration. Reapply every day or two for the first few weeks and monitor behavior.

Step 4

Consult your veterinarian before applying bitter to your dog’s skin or fur. Allergies or other infections may be causing your dog to lick himself. Rule out any underlying and treatable medical condition.


  • Do not apply bitters to raw or broken skin as this can cause pain or increased irritation.

  • Use caution when spraying bitters directly on your dog. Do not spray near the eyes.


  • If your dog seems to enjoy the bitter taste deterrents, consider trying a hot and spicy mixture. Cayenne pepper powder mixed with water or used as a dry dust is one option. Hot sauce mixed with water in a spray form is another option.

Items You Will Need

  • Empty spray bottle
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • Tissue