Does Bear Spray Work on Coyotes?

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If you live or hike in an area with a significant coyote population, you’ll want to be ready in case of an encounter. Especially if you like to go outside with your dog, you’ll need to be able to protect your K9 companion just in case you cross paths with a coyote. What about bear spray — does it work on coyotes?

Bear spray works on coyotes because it’s a pepper-based spray but much stronger than a regular pepper spray. It contains a spicy chili pepper called oleoresin capsicum, affecting the eyes, nose, and lungs. If sprayed properly, the pain and irritation will temporarily immobilize the coyotes.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss what is in bear spray and why it’s effective on coyotes. I’ll also share some key tips to keep yourself safe when you’re in an area populated by coyotes. 

Bear Spray Works on Coyotes

What makes bear spray so potent is one of the chemical compounds found inside. Bear spray typically utilizes a part of a spicy chili pepper called oleoresin capsicum. This compound is highly irritating, which you might know first hand if you’ve ever had an encounter with pepper spray. 

With bear spray, this ingredient is used at a high enough intensity to irritate bears effectively and keep them from coming any closer to you. Since coyotes are also highly sensitive to these irritants, using bear spray on a coyote can effectively deter an attack.

When you use bear spray, the spray enters the eyes, nose, and lungs of the animal and causes severe irritation. Remember, it’s effective because it’s shocking and painful to the animal. The animals will immediately struggle to see and breathe properly. This will also immediately be in an immense amount of pain if hit strongly with the spray.

Bear spray is one of the most powerful versions of a pepper-based spray since it’s designed to stop a bear. Consider only using it as a last resort and make sure you know how to spray it safely and effectively. 

Tips for Using Bear Spray

If you’re planning on using it in an emergency, make sure you carry the spray safely and know how to handle it properly. You can fasten it in a special holster you can wear on your belt to access it easily without the risk of it going off without warning.

Once you remove the spray from the holster, you’ll need to remove the safety valve typically located on the top of the canister. When you press down on the button or handle, you’ll immediately release a mist of bear spray. 

It’s essential that you point the can away from you when you release the spray. You might be in a stressful and scary situation when you need to use bear spray, but make sure you aim properly (and in the right direction!).

As you spray, think of creating a wall with the mist to protect you from the coyote. Continue to hold down on the button or handle and move the canister back and forth. This will create a pepper-infused shield between you and the animal that’s approaching you. 

Creating this strong wall of mist is particularly important if it’s a bit of a windy day. The more you can release, the more you can create the protective barrier, even if a little gets dispersed due to the wind. 

Remember, a canister of bear spray will only contain approximately 6 to 8 seconds of spray time. Make sure you don’t start spraying too early when you see the coyote. You want to make sure you have some spray ready if it gets dangerously close to you. 

For a full demonstration on using bear spray safely and effectively, you can check out this video on YouTube:

Recommended Bear and Pepper Sprays

Pepper Gel trusted by Military
  • Safe at a wide range
  • Optimize target acquisition
  • Belt holster for fast access
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If you’re ready to stock up on bear spray, you can easily order up a few canisters from the comfort of your home. One of the best pepper spray products you can purchase is the Phoenix Tactical P360S Pepper Gel, available on 

This product sprays in a firmer gel consistency as opposed to the more traditional liquid mists. Its design is advantageous because it allows you to shoot up to 18 feet (about 5.5 meters) with minimal risk of the product blowing back and entering your eyes or nose. 

The can will function no matter the angle you hold it at. It comes with a handy clip that allows you to fasten it directly to your belt when you head outside, where you might run into coyotes or other predatory animals. 

This brand is considered military-grade and is one of the top picks on The manufacturer boasts that it’ll release 18 bursts of gel before the canister is empty. Each canister should last for about 5 years before the intensity of the gel deteriorates. 

Guard Alaska Maximum Strength Bear Spray

Accurate & effective, the Mace Guard Alaska Bear Spray has an advanced delivery system with a powerful formula to protect you from bears and outdoor threats. The power fogger spray pattern provides long-range protection up to 20 ft.

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Mace also makes a high-quality bear spray with a long misting distance. Their Guard Alaska Maximum Strength Bear Spray (available on sprays a powerful fog that can reach up to 35 feet (about 10.5 meters) away from the user. 

However, just because the spray can reach a far distance, remember that it’ll empty quickly. This bear spray will empty in 6 seconds, giving you a short period to do what you need to do to protect yourself.

This product should last for about 3 years before the compounds begin to deteriorate. The manufacturer suggests purchasing new cans of bear spray every 2 to 3 years to ensure they’re ready when you need them.

Final Thoughts

If you live in an area where coyotes are considered a threat, you can rest assured that carrying bear spray will keep you protected. Remember that the chemical compounds in the bear spray will be highly irritating and painful for the coyote. It’ll fend off an attack, but remember to use the spray carefully and as a last resort.

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