Your four-legged baby is top dog when it comes to the sense of smell – they can perceive smells beyond what any human could hope to detect.
That doesn’t mean we can’t tell when our dog is extra stinky.
Strong smells can be a part of daily life with a pet.
From their breath to their temper, we learn to live with unusual smells in exchange for their companionship.
What about when the smell is extra bad, or out of the ordinary?
What if you suddenly notice your dog smells like urine?
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That can cause some concern for any pet parent. It can be the marker of a health issue, and it also raises some hygiene worries.
If that daily cuddle session leaves you asking, “why does my dog smell like pee,” it’s time to take a look at some reasons – and remedies for this smelly situation.
What’s That Smell?
Dogs can have strong-smelling urine without anything being wrong with them.
If their pee smells particularly pungent but not foul or abnormal (such as smelling fishy), it could be because they’re mildly dehydrated.
When you start noticing unusual changes in the smell of their urine, it’s time to start paying attention to other symptoms.
If your dog smells like pee, whether it’s a “normal” scent or not, it can mean they’re incontinent.
Incontinence in dogs can signal several health issues, so finding the cause is not something you’ll want to put off.
What to look for?
That depends on the situation.
My Dog Smells Like Pee
If the urine scent itself is the only thing abnormal, your dog could be dribbling on themselves.
This is seen frequently in dogs with nerve damage or elderly pets.
The lack of control over their bladders, combined with weakened muscles in the urinary system, can cause some leakage or accidents.
Sometimes it happens in their sleep, which is why the reason behind the smelliness is a mystery to you.
Spayed females can suffer from a condition known as spay incontinence.
Younger dogs and puppies can also be susceptible to this issue.
In puppies, incontinence can usually be chalked up to the fact that they’re not fully housetrained.
Puppies can’t hold their bladders for as long as adult dogs can, and sometimes have accidents overnight.
If cleanup isn’t done right away, their fur will soak up the urine, causing them to smell.
Urine and dog fur aren’t a great mix – their fur can absorb urine very quickly.
The smell can be quite unpleasant, and can even cause a urine scald if not washed properly.
If your otherwise normal dog is suddenly reeking of urine, you should consult your vet about possible causes.
Your dog could be suffering from bladder stones or infections, or something like Cushing’s disease, which can cause bladder leakage.
Look for signs of UTIs like mucus in dog urine.
Nervous dogs or those who have been previously mistreated can urinate submissively.
They will often roll onto their back and dribble on themselves.
If you’ve noticed this behavior in your dog, they will likely start smelling of urine.
My Dog Smells Like Urine and Ammonia
Sometimes that urine smell is quite strong and can include a harsh, ammonia-like scent.
There are a few things that could be causing extra harsh-smelling urine. An infection could be at work, or urine crystals or stones in the bladder.
Your dog could also be dehydrated, making their urine more concentrated and potent.
Check to see if your dog’s urine is dark in color.
My Dog Smells Like Urine – And it’s Foul
Urine that has an especially pungent, foul odor is a typical sign of an infection.
It could be a urinary tract infection or an infection that has made its way into the bladder.
These types of infections should be treated promptly since they can migrate to the kidneys and become a serious issue.
Other Red Flags
If your dog smells like urine in general, or the smell is unusual, a trip to the vet is in order to narrow down possible causes.
You might also notice their urine is cloudy, they’re straining to eliminate, or there are traces of blood in their pee.
Unless you know for sure that they only smell because of an isolated potty accident, having the underlying issue diagnosed is the best move.
Treating the Issue
If your dog smells of urine and you don’t know why, make that appointment with the vet.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to keep the situation under control.
Any time your dog’s fur soaks up urine, cleaning them off is important.
Not only will you decrease the risks of them developing a urine burn, but you’ll also get rid of the unpleasant smells.
A regular bath with a dog-friendly shampoo does the trick.
You might need to spend a little extra time cleaning the areas where their fur absorbed the pee – just remember to rinse them completely when you’re done.
If your dog had an accident in their bed (or your bed in front of you!) or on any blankets, you’ll want to clean them correctly.
Even if their bedding feels dry, if they peed on it, they can start getting smelly again after laying in the spot for too long.
Handle messes with care:
The question of whether dog urine is harmful to humans just depends, so try to keep yourself clean in the clean-up process.
While you wait to see the vet, you probably don’t want to be bathing your dog multiple times a day.
So if your dog is leaking urine, you can use diapers or belly bands (for males) to stay ahead of the mess.
There are diapers designed for dogs and human ones – and they both serve the same purpose.
The important thing to make sure they fit correctly.
Remember that human diapers will need some alterations before you can put them on your dog – like a hole for their tail.
You will need to wipe your dog if they soil the diaper. Using baby wipes or grooming wipes work well to keep your dog clean in between baths.
This is important to avoid dog urine scald, which can be painful for your pup.
Just like with babies, diapers will need checked and changed frequently.
Keeping your dog in a wet diaper for too long will only make the smelly situation worse.
What to do after you see the vet?
As we covered earlier, there are a lot of reasons your dog could be leaking urine, have smelly pee, or both.
Issues like infections can be treated with antibiotics. Bladder crystals in urine are usually easy to treat, sometimes with nothing more than adjusting your dog’s diet – see more about urinary care dog food.
In the case of bladder stones, your vet might offer several options to break up the stone so your dog can pass it, depending on how large it is.
Females who are spayed and experiencing incontinence might need estrogen therapy.
Some elderly dogs simply have less control over their bladders. Some cases of incontinence might mean diapers will become part of the routine for your dog.
The good news is:
Each of these potential diagnoses includes treatment or remedies that can put a stop to your dog smelling like pee.
Preventing the Issue
Some things you can’t help – no matter how much you love your dog.
Aging is a part of life, infections can occur in the healthiest of dogs, and accidents happen.
There are a few things you can do to lower the risk of urinary issues and smelly fur.
Lots of Water
It might sound counterintuitive, but water is vital to your dog’s urinary tract, kidney, and bladder health.
Keeping them well hydrated will mean pee that doesn’t smell so strong. It will also help prevent UTIs and can help flush urine crystals from their system.
Make water available to them at all times, and keep it fresh.
Sometimes a dog will avoid the water bowl even if they’re thirsty – the dish could need cleaning, or the water could need changing.
Plenty of Potty Breaks
A dog needs to empty its bladder 3-5 times daily. Holding their pee too long can cause anything from incontinence to infections.
If they have an accident in say, their crate, they’ll probably get pee all over themselves.
It’s not just a stinky problem; it can lead to a urine scald.
Make sure your dog doesn’t have to go long periods between bathroom breaks.
If your dog refuses to pee outside for any reason, get to the bottom of that.
Most adult dogs can hold it while you’re at work, but puppies under four months can’t hold themselves for hours on end.
In the case of young puppies, take them out at least every 3-4 hours, or expect a mess in their crate or bed.
Remember that cleaning things up as soon as possible will help prevent smells.
Clean Dog, Happy Home
We love to pet our dogs – and cuddle them, and even share our furniture with them.
A dog that smells like pee will be less than welcome to do any of these things, and that’s a big bummer for everyone.
So why does your dog smell like pee?
It can be several things, which is why your vet is the best person to ask for help.
When your dog starts smelling of urine, identifying the root cause is the first thing to cross off the list.
Once you’ve taken care of that, it only takes some cleaning and bathing for your dog to regain their title as primary cuddler in the house.