Skip to Content

11 Reasons Why Your Dog Smells Like Pee / Urine + 15 Tips

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Pee

The smell of pee is horrible! And it’s frustrating when it’s coming from… your dog.

The bad odor makes your nose wrinkle.

What’s causing it?

Is there something wrong with your dog?

No more guessing. 

Here you’ll find out the answer. And what you can do about this asap.

You’ll discover:

  • 11 reasons why your dog smells like pee/urine.
  • 15 easy tips to stop your dog from smelling like that.
  • 5 dangers that are responsible for the smell of pee on your dog.
  • And much much more…

Why does my dog smell like pee?

Your dog smells like pee for a variety of reasons, such as: getting peed on, rolling in pee, peeing on themselves, and urine splashes. Medical issues also contribute to your dog smelling like urine. These include incontinence, urinary tract infection, kidney disease, bladder stones, and dehydration.

People also ask:

11 reasons why your dog (always) smells like pee/urine

#1: Your dog pees on your other dog

Urine marking is normal dog behavior. Usually, dogs urinate on things that are new.

For instance, they might “bless” your new couch with their urine. Or your brand new shoes.

But your dog peeing on your other dog? Particularly a puppy?

That is rude.

But that is exactly what happens on this video:

As you can see in the video, the puppies are new to the older dog.

Here’s another video of an older dog peeing on a puppy:

One reason for this behavior could be marking territory. It’s like the older dog telling the young ones, “I am the boss.”

Check out also: 6 Real Reasons Why Your Dog Smells Like Ammonia + 5 Tips

#2: Peeing on themselves

Puppies or adult dogs… both can pee messily.

At some point, they’re bound to pee on themselves. Young puppies may still be wobbly on their feet. Or they haven’t mastered the art of proper peeing yet.

And old dogs with blurred vision or unable to hold their pee might suddenly pee on themselves.

In some cases, some dogs are just messy peers.

Just look at this dog peeing for more than a minute! Literally!

What impressed you? The dog doing a handstand while peeing? Or their full-as-a-fountain bladder?

Also, take note that at some point, the dog peed on his foot.

In addition, some dogs are very fluffy. Their fur is like a sponge that absorbs… wait for it… a huge amount of urine.

#3: Urine splashes

So your dog pees properly. But they might not be free from urine splashes.

Think about small dog breeds, even the short-legged ones. Or dogs that have long hair under the body.

They will have pee splashes every time they pee. 

If they are not wiped clean, the pee will dry out and stick to their coat. And this could be responsible for why they smell like pee all the time.

#4: Urinary incontinence

If your dog’s urine smells like ammonia, they could be suffering from incontinence. It could range from mild to serious.

Certain breeds are at a high risk of incontinence, including:

  • Boxer
  • Rottweiler
  • Irish Setter
  • Weimaraner
  • German Shepherd
  • Doberman Pinscher

Spay incontinence

Incontinence is a common problem in female dogs. Particularly the spayed ones.

In fact, it affects one out of 5 spayed female dogs.

This study wanted to find out if early spaying had an effect on urinary incontinence.

The researchers surveyed pet parents of 206 bitches. These dogs had already been spayed before their first estrus (heat).

The findings showed that 9.7% of bitches had incontinence. It affected 12.5% of bitches that weighed more than 20 kilos (44 pounds). Also, incontinence affected 5.1% of bitches that weighed less than 20 kilos (44 pounds).

Aside from spaying, incontinence may be brought on by several factors. It could be age, infection, injury, or weak bladder muscles.

In female dogs with incontinence, the following clinical signs are observed:

  • Discomfort
  • Stinky smell
  • Severe eczema
  • Urinary dribbling
  • Behavioral changes
  • Excessive licking of the genital area

#5: Urinary tract infections

Your dog’s urine smells like ammonia due to a urinary tract infection (UTI).

UTI is another common infection in dogs. According to this study, it affects about 14% of dogs in their lifetime.

The usual culprits, the study reported, are the following bacteria:

  • Escherichia coli (52.5%)
  • Staphylococcus spp. (13.6%)
  • Enterococcus spp. (13.3%)

The first two were more common in dogs with complicated UTI. The pee of a dog with UTI smells bad because of these bacteria.

Aside from the strong smell, UTI causes a dog to pee more. Thus, it increases a dog’s chances of smelling like urine.

If you suspect that your dog has UTI, look for the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Stiff gait
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty rising
  • Systemic illness

#6: Kidney diseases

Your dog’s breath smells like urine due to failing kidneys.

The urine odor on a dog’s breath is a warning sign of kidney disease. This is according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Not only on dogs’ breath, though. Their skin and fur may smell like pee as well.

One pet parent shares on a forum about her pet that had chronic kidney disease. She remembered the smell of urine all over her pet.

According to this study, chronic kidney disease affects up to 25% of dogs. This is when a dog gradually loses renal function.

The smell of urine comes from the buildup of wastes. The kidneys are unable to filter these wastes from the blood.

#7: Your cat is urine marking

Cat Urine Marking On Dog Bed

Cats are amazing pets. That’s despite their reputation for being disagreeable. Not to mention aloof.

Although, you might have a change of heart. Particularly when it’s the cat that’s responsible for your dog smelling like cat pee!

Your cat could be urine marking. One pet parent shares that this was the case when they brought their puppy home.

The cunning cat, they found out, was peeing on the dog’s bed. They weren’t sure if the behavior was due to exerting dominance. Or simply anxiety.

Their dog would sleep on the bed, and the urine would dry up into the fur.

Thus, their dog always smelled of cat pee.

But if you don’t have a cat, your dog might be rolling in cat pee. If you don’t notice it right away, the pee might dry up on your dog’s fur. 

It smells horrible.

#8: Natural Balance diet

I was looking at different types of dog food when something caught my attention. And although it sounds unbelievable, it’s true…

Some dog foods can make a dog’s poop smell a certain way. But for dog food to make your dog smell like cat pee?

That’s new to a lot of pet parents. 

But this is what several dog parents that fed their dogs Natural Balance say. Natural Balance is a brand of dog food. 

Apparently, it’s what causes the cat pee smell on their dogs.

One pet parent shares that she had switched the dog food to Natural Balance. Then her dog began smelling like cat pee.

She bathed her dog, but the dog still smelled of cat pee.

Another pet parent had the same experience. She then switched from Natural Balance to another dog food. 

After several days, her dog no longer smelled of cat pee.

Two other pet parents had their dogs on Natural Balance for skin issues. The skin issues were solved. But then the dogs smelled of cat pee.

If your dog’s diet is Natural Balance, observe how they smell. The food is probably what makes them smell of cat pee.

#9: Bladder stones

Another medical condition that could make your dog smell like pee is bladder stones.

Too much waste products in the bladder lead to stones.

Symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Dark or cloudy urine

Stones are formed from crystal-forming substances from the urine. These substances can be found in many dog foods.

Having bladder stones is painful. It also places an individual at risk for urinary tract infections.

In addition, stones could block urine from flowing outside of the body. This is dangerous if not treated asap.

Obesity and bladder stones

Did you know that obesity puts dogs at risk of stones? I am talking about calcium oxalate stones in particular.

These are a common type of bladder stones in dogs.

This study had interesting findings about calcium oxalate stones and obesity. In particular, the body condition score was higher in dogs with these stones.

Body condition score measures obesity in dogs.

The study included 68 dogs. Dogs with calcium oxalate stones were the cases. Whereas dogs with no history of stones or lower urinary tract disease were the controls.

Thirty-three (49%) of the dogs were overweight. The median body condition score for the cases was higher than the score for the controls.

#10: Dehydration

Dehydration happens when your dog doesn’t get enough fluids. It also occurs if they experience significant fluid loss. This is due to vomiting, diarrhea, or heatstroke.

Typically, urine has a small amount of ammonia. Thus, your urine smells just a bit.

And when you drink a lot of fluids, it dilutes the smell.

But without enough fluids in the body, the amount of ammonia is higher. Thus, the smell of ammonia is stronger.

Aside from the smell, a dehydrated dog will exhibit any or some of the following:

  • Panting
  • Dry nose
  • Lethargy
  • Thick saliva
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bubbles in the urine
  • Dark yellow-colored urine
  • Vomiting with or without diarrhea

Here are 2 easy ways to tell if your dog is dehydrated:

Skin elasticity test

  1. Gently hold your dog’s skin near their shoulder blades.
  2. Lift it up, then let it go.

If the skin goes back to its original position, your dog is well-dehydrated. But if it took longer to fall back into place, your dog is dehydrated.

Gum test

The skin elasticity test may prove challenging if your dog is of a wrinkly breed.

Don’t worry, there’s another test you can do. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Gently press a finger against your dog’s gum.
  2. Remove your finger and observe the area pressed.

A well-dehydrated dog will show the pressed area as white. Then the color will return to a healthy pink almost immediately.

If the dog is dehydrated, it takes longer for the pressed area to return to pink.

Some dogs are more prone to dehydration. Including:

  • Puppies
  • Senior dogs
  • Nursing dogs
  • Toy dog breeds

You might also be interested in: Why is my dog drinking so much water in the winter?

#11: Rolling in pee

I am as puzzled as you are that dogs roll in pee.

It doesn’t even matter if it’s theirs or other animals’.

But some dogs do that.

Take note, that’s dry pee. However, the urine smell would still be on your dog’s coat.

How much more if the pee is still fresh?

If the pee dries on the coat, your dog will smell like ammonia.

15 tips to stop your dog from smelling like pee/urine

#1: Pet wipes to the rescue

Pet Wipes Keep Urine Smell Away

Not the time for a full bath yet? But your dog smells like pee?

Pet wipes are the next best thing. These are your partners in keeping your dog clean after peeing.

This may seem tedious, particularly if your dog doesn’t like being wiped. But it’s necessary if you don’t want them smelling like pee.

Remember, even healthy dogs may have dribbles sometimes. 

So keep a pack of pet wipes handy and give your dog a wipe down after peeing. Wipe their paws, their genital area, and their underside in case of pee splashes.

Sometimes, a puppy’s skin may dry out with too much bathing from frequent accidents. Pet wipes are your go-to.

These may not do a thorough cleansing as a bath does. But it will keep your dog clean and smelling fresh in a pinch.

#2: Trim fur

Solving pee splashes may be as simple as trimming your dog’s fur.

You don’t even have to pay for a grooming service. Instead, consider investing in a dog hair trimmer. 

This is a good investment in the long run, especially if your dog is a long-haired type.

Just cut the fur on the underside, around the bum, and over the legs.

#3: Wash beddings regularly

It’s challenging if you have a cat that pees on your dog’s bed. Or if your dog has frequent accidents on the bed.

And when pee dries on the fabric or foam, it’s going to leave a horrible smell.

Thus, it’s absolutely necessary to wash the bedding as soon as it is soiled.

Wash it as thoroughly as you can to not leave a smell of the pee.

Otherwise, it will draw your cat or your dog to keep urinating on it.

#4: Give your dog a bath

How do you remove the urine smell from a dog’s fur?

I am sure you’re dying to know. Especially after having to endure the smell for some time now. 

If dog wipes can’t do the job, then a bath should. Particularly if a huge part of your dog’s body is soaked with urine.

Give them a thorough bath. And make sure to dry their coat thoroughly.

#5: Use a pet shampoo

Dog Shampoo Meme

Keep your dog as fresh as a rose by using a pet shampoo.

However, not all shampoos are equal. There are shampoos that can irritate your dog’s skin. Some may not be able to completely remove the smell of urine from your dog’s fur.

As such, do a trial and error. See if your dog’s shampoo at home can do the job.

If not, then it’s time to find something from your local pet store.

Deodorizing shampoo

A deodorizing shampoo has baking soda or citrus. Both of which are excellent at neutralizing bad odors.

Shampoo with oatmeal or aloe vera

If you’re worried about your dog’s skin drying out, an oatmeal or aloe vera shampoo is your best bet.

Here are some reasons why your dog (and you) will love oatmeal shampoo:

  • Softens coat
  • Eases irritation
  • Calms sensitive skin
  • Provides skin hydration
  • Helps reduce inflammation, redness, and itchiness

Aloe vera, on the other hand, provides the following benefits:

  • Soothes skin
  • Moisturizes skin
  • Deeply cleanses coat
  • Provides gentle cleaning
  • Helps keep the coat lustrous

Warning: Though a human shampoo is non-toxic and smells great, do not use it on your pet. Human shampoos are formulated for humans. Some ingredients may irritate your dog’s skin.

#6: Use this homemade deodorizing shampoo

If you don’t have a deodorizing shampoo at home, you can make your own.

And the good thing is, you can find the ingredients at home.


  • 79ml (⅓ cup) glycerin
  • 240ml (1 cup) white vinegar
  • 946ml (1 quart) warm water
  • 240ml (1 cup) lemon-scented dish detergent

Use a plastic container to mix the ingredients. Shampoo your dog using this solution. Then rinse thoroughly.

#7: Use apple cider vinegar

An apple cider vinegar can help remove the urine smell from your dog’s fur.

First, bath your dog as you normally do. Make sure to work the shampoo into their coat and skin. Pay special attention to areas that are soaked with urine or with urine stains. 

Rinse your dog until there’s no trace of shampoo.

Rinse your dog using an apple cider vinegar mixture. This is simply a mixture of a cup of apple cider vinegar and half a gallon of warm water. 

This could be your dog’s last rinse. Don’t worry because the smell of vinegar dissipates.

But if you don’t like the smell, you can give your dog another rinse with water.

Note: Make sure you dry your dog’s coat completely. Otherwise, it might smell.

#8: Use an odor eliminator spray

It’s useful to keep an odor eliminator spray around the house.

With just a few spritzes, you can keep your dog and your home smelling great!

There are sprays containing natural ingredients such as baking soda. And you know baking soda is great in neutralizing smells.

Best to use one of these. Avoid sprays with chemicals that you can’t even pronounce.

What’s good with natural sprays is that you can spray them directly on your dog’s coat.

Spray it also on your dog’s bed and in areas where your dog pees.

Homemade eliminator spray

Make your very own homemade odor eliminator spray! Every single ingredient is safe and can be found at home.

Here are the ingredients:

  • A teaspoon of baking soda
  • A tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 1 ¾ cups (414ml) distilled water

Mix the ingredients in a bowl. The ingredients may fizz for a while. Wait until the fizzing stops.

Then, pour the mixture into a clean spray bottle. Shake well before using.

Spray your dog’s bed to get rid of the urine smell. You can also use this magic mixture to neutralize all sorts of bad odors.

#9: Pee pads save the day

It can be downright tiring to wash your dog’s bed (again) when you’ve just washed it.

Good news!

There’s another must-have item to help your dog with incontinence or bladder problems.

It’s pee pads!

Use one or two and place it/them under the sheet of your dog’s bed. This keeps the bed from being soaked with urine.

Two dog parents have attested that this was what they have used for their dog. One dog was already 17 years old. She couldn’t control her bladder anymore, resulting in peeing while asleep.

The other dog was suffering from incontinence.

#10: Use super-absorbent diapers

For dogs with incontinence, UTI, and failing kidneys, diapers are lifesavers.

This helps tremendously when your dog pees while asleep. The diaper catches the pee instead of soaking your dog and their bed.

Diapers can either be washable or disposable. So choose one according to your preference.

For male dogs, the diaper is called a male wrap. It’s like a belt that goes around your dog’s waist. 

There is an absorbent pad over the genital area. And it is fastened with velcro, so taking it on and off is a breeze.

When your dog pees, the pad absorbs the urine. It keeps your dog free from urine soakings and odor as well. One less worry for you, furmom/furdad.

What is urine burn?

Unfortunately, using a diaper has some downsides. It can lead to diaper rash or urine burn.

Urine burn is a rash that occurs when your dog’s skin is in contact with urine for a long time.

For example, your dog has a urine overflow and the diaper isn’t enough to absorb the liquid. It overflows and your dog’s skin gets soaked in urine.

If their diaper is not changed asap, it might cause urine burn.

What to do

Don’t worry, though. This is totally manageable.

First, make sure to wash the area and dry the skin thoroughly. Apply some petroleum jelly on the area where the urine goes before putting on a diaper or wrap.

Other choices aside from petroleum jelly are dog-safe creams or moisturizers. These help soothe the skin.

One pet parent shares that her vet recommended the use of Cetaphil or Eucerin cream. The vet, according to her, said that it was okay if the dog happens to lick it.

But as with anything you put on your dog’s skin, consult with your vet first.

Warning: Do not use a baby diaper rash cream on your dog’s urine burn. Many baby diaper rash creams contain zinc oxide. It can be toxic to dogs when ingested.

In addition, change your dog’s diaper/wrap regularly or when needed. Especially if you know that your dog has urine overflow all the time.

#11: Get your dog treated

Some medical conditions require immediate treatments. Thus, it’s best to pay your vet a visit.

Medications are needed for cases such as UTI, incontinence, kidney diseases, and bladder stones.

You can also consult with your vet if your dog’s diet makes their breath smell like urine.

The case of Shiloh

Let me tell you about Shiloh, a 3-year-old female Chihuahua. She had been peeing frequently, and there was blood in the urine.

Other than this, she was a healthy pooch.

The diagnostic tests discovered that Shiloh had a bladder stone.

The vet recommended surgery. However, Shiloh’s owner couldn’t afford it. 

Shiloh was prescribed medication which would run for 2 weeks. Her diet was also switched to Royal Canin Urinary S/O.

Three weeks later, Shiloh was showing some symptoms. She was lethargic and had difficulty pooping and peeing.

More lab tests were done. These showed that the bladder stone caused all the discomfort and pain. 

Shiloh was given medications for pain and inflammation.

Around this time, the owner was able to afford surgery. One oval stone was removed from the bladder.

There was no exact measurement provided for the stone. But it was big enough to cause the dog pain and discomfort.

#12: Hydration

Don’t wait for your dog to get thirsty before giving them water.

Make sure clean drinking water is available all the time. Place water bowls around the house. 

This way, you’re making it easier for your pooch to get hydrated.

Also, make sure your dog drinks enough water. Some dogs don’t drink unless you encourage them. Watch out for this type of dog as they might get dehydrated.

When you take your dog outside, bring water with you. And don’t exercise them when it’s too hot. This contributes to dehydration and heatstroke.

You may also want to invest in a water fountain. Place it outside and let your dog figure out how it works. 

And when they do, they’ll have lots of fun playing with the water (and drinking as well).

Just look at these dogs having a blast with a water fountain:

#13: Switch to other dog food

Natural Balance is usually recommended for dogs with skin issues. 

But, it could lead to your dog’s breath smelling like pee.

Some dog parents observed how their dogs refused to eat it. Or they would only eat to keep themselves from starving.

And when the dog parents changed the dog food, the dogs’ appetite returned.

If a pee smell on your dog’s breath is something you can’t manage, consult with your vet. They may be able to recommend something else.

#14: Enzyme spray

Many pet parents swear to using enzymatic cleaners to remove the smell of pee. These cleaners also do a good job of removing pee and poop stains.

Enzymes are the star in these cleaners. These enzymes work hard to break down the smell and the stain.

In addition, cleaning takes only several minutes. You can spray it on your dog’s bed and other areas where your dog pees.

But what about your dog’s coat soaked in urine?

One dog parent shares how she found an enzyme spray at Petco. The product claimed that it is safe on fur and skin.

First, the pet parent washed the dog with shampoo. It’s important to remove traces of urine and poop. 

Then she sprayed the product on the flanks and tummy area and soaked it for 10 minutes. After which she rinsed her dog.

After the first wash, the pee smell was no longer as strong as before. She repeated the treatment, and after rinsing all the smell was gone.

#15: Help your dog pee!

There are many reasons why dogs suffer from urinary incontinence. These include aging or illnesses.

Injuries can also lead to incontinence, such as what happened to one pet parent’s dog.

Her dog was already a senior and was struck by a car. The accident left the dog with permanent incontinence.

She said that her dog pees while asleep. This led to the tummy and flanks soaked in urine.

Also, dogs with spinal cord injuries will have a hard time peeing on their own. If they can’t urinate, it might lead to infections such as UTI and urine burn.

To treat incontinence, one option may be to express urine. Basically, this is manually emptying the dog’s bladder.

Talk to your vet about expressing urine. They will show or teach you the following:

  • The location of your dog’s bladder
  • All the methods in expressing urine
  • The amount of pressure to apply to the bladder

When learning how to do this, it’s best to keep a calm composure. Your disposition while expressing urine will affect your dog.