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Why does my dog smell like cat pee?

Why does my dog smell like cat pee?

Dogs can do all sorts of strange things, and dog owners often encounter strange smells. However, one of the most strange smells you may encounter is cat pee on your dog. 

Why does my dog smell like cat pee?

You call your dog into your lap and nuzzle them, only to encounter the scent of cat pee. You are confused. It’s the last thing you expect your dog to smell like. What is going on?

Cat Pee Smell

Before we talk about why your dog is smelling like cat pee, it’s important to determine which smell we are referring to. Cat pee is pee, so a general pee smell definitely applies.

However, when someone mentions the smell of cat pee, they are often referring to the ammonia odor cat pee produces. This is an important distinction, because general pee smell, like dog pee, and the ammonia associated with cat pee can have different causes. 

Dietary Changes 

Dietary changes are one of the more benign causes for your dog smelling like cat pee. It’s particularly common with foods high in Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s. 

These oils are great for your dog’s health. However, if they ingest too much of them or can’t digest them properly, you’ll run into a problem. If they can’t digest the fatty acids, they will release them through their skin. 

The oil will then stay on their skin. Your dog is warm and their skin is exposed to the air. These are the perfect conditions for oil to become rancid. 

So, the oil that your dog eats is excreted through their skin. It stays on their skin and coat and becomes rancid. At this point, it will smell like ammonia because it’s rancid. 

Rolling in Pee

The most obvious reason for your dog smelling like cat pee is because they’ve been rolling around in it. There are several reasons a dog may roll in cat pee. 

It could be an attempt to camouflage themselves. For animals, their smell is their signature. Imagine trying to sneak up on someone wearing a large amount of your favorite perfume or cologne. They would not only know someone was there, they would probably know it was you.

Because dogs have such a heightened sense of smell, it’s very easy for them to smell other dogs and other wildlife. If they want to be stealthy, they will need to cover their scent with something stinky. 

They may just be really excited about the smell, and want to bring it back for the rest of their pack to smell. For a domestic dog, their owners are part of the pack. If this is the motivation, they may even jump in your lap, allowing you to smell their new find. 

It’s also possible they roll in it out of sheer excitement. Dogs can be fascinated and highly excited by certain smells. If it triggers their hunting instinct or just their curiosity, they will smell it, possibly taste it, and even roll in it. 

Kidney Problems

Kidney or urinary tract problems are another reason your dog may smell like cat pee. It causes more ammonia or urea to be released when your dog pees, which makes it smell similar to cat pee. 

How to get my dog to stop smelling of cat pee?

Of course, regardless of the cause, you want the unpleasant odor to go away. How to rid your pooch of the smell will depend on the cause of the smell. 


If you suspect your dog’s diet of creating the offending odor, simply change their food. If this is the cause, it should go away within a few days. Supplements with omega 3s or 6s can also cause the smell. 

After you’ve changed your dog’s diet, a bath may help rid them of the ammonia smell. 

Cat Pee

If the cause of your smelly dog is literal cat pee, you’ll want to remove it from their fur. You can use a deodorizing shampoo. You can also add a few tablespoons of baking soda to their normal shampoo. Mix it into a paste, and apply it to your dog as you would their shampoo. 

Let the mixture sit for up to 5 minutes, and then rinse. Baking soda helps trap odors, and its a natural cleaning agent. 

Next, you’ll want to prevent future forays into the cat puddles. If your dog is visiting your cat’s litter box, consider finding a spot comfortable for your cat but out of reach of your dog. 

If they are finding the pee outside the home, the only way to prevent it is to supervise them when outside. Pet wipes can help keep your dog clean in between baths if they encounter cat pee. 

Kidney Malfunction

If you suspect there’s a problem with your dog’s kidneys, you’ll need to make a vet appointment. Urinary tract infections are a common issue, but they can become serious if not treated. Kidney infections can do permanent damage to the kidneys and even be fatal in rare cases without treatment. 

If a urinary infection is the problem, your vet will prescribe antibiotics to kill the infection. Your pooch should begin feeling, and smelling, better within a few days. 

If kidney disease is the problem, you’ll need to work closely with your vet. They will prescribe a special diet that reduces the kidney’s workload. They may also provide intravenous fluids to help flush the kidneys. Medications may be needed to help manage the disease as well. 

Kidney disease or failure is not reversible, but it is treatable. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome of the treatment. 

By the time your dog starts showing signs of kidney disease, they have lost 2/3 of their kidney function. A simple test can help monitor kidney function as your dog ages, so you can treat any problems early. 

Why does my dog’s breath smell like cat pee?

Do you smell cat pee every time your dog breathes on you? If your dog’s breath smells like cat pee or ammonia, there may be a serious health issue. 

Cat Urine

The best case scenario is that your dog’s breath smells like cat urine because they’ve recently sampled some. If you notice them smelling of cat pee but don’t smell it later on, this may be the culprit. 

Dogs use their tongue to taste and smell in a sense. It’s a normal behavior for a dog to lick the urine of another dog or a cat, to gather more information about them. 

It’s gross to us, but to them it’s just like browsing their Facebook feed. 

Kidney Problems

The more concerning reason for your dog’s breath to smell like ammonia is kidney problems. The kidneys filter toxins and waste from the blood, including urea, which gives ammonia it’s smell.

When the kidneys are functioning properly, urea is flushed from the body through the urine. When the kidneys aren’t filtering properly, urea and other waste products build up in the blood. 

The ammonia needs to escape, and one way it can do so is through the mouth.  

Why does my dog’s poop smell like cat pee?

Dog poop isn’t supposed to smell grand, by any stretch of the imagination. However, it should smell like dog poop. If it smells like cat pee, there’s an issue within your dog’s system. 

The stomach breaks proteins down into amino acids that can be used by the body. The waste product of this breakdown is ammonia. 

Normally, the liver releases enzymes that cause the ammonia to be converted to urea, which can be released through the urine.  An ammonia smell in your dog’s poop means something is going wrong with the process.

Gastrointestinal Problems

Gastrointestinal problems can cause your dog’s poop to smell like cat pee. One culprit is viruses and bacteria. These  typically cause vomiting and diarrhea. Once the bacteria or virus is cleared from the system, things should go back to normal. 

If your dog has a longstanding problem with their poop, it may be a chronic condition like colitis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

Not Digesting Food Properly

If your dog isn’t digesting their food properly, this can also cause ammonia. In addition to disorders like IBD, the wrong diet can cause issues with the digestive system. 

A diet too high in fat can be harder to break down, and puts a strain on your pooch’s system. 

An imbalance in gut bacteria can also be the culprit. The good bacteria in the gut, known as probiotics, helps with the digestion process. If there’s not enough of these good bacteria, or too much bad bacteria, the digestive system can’t function properly. 

Why does my dog’s pee smell like cat pee?

Your friend comes over to visit, and asks when you got a cat. Your surprised, because you don’t have a cat. You have a dog. However, your friend is sure they detect the odor of cat pee. Upon further investigation, you notice the smell as well. Why would your dog’s pee smell like cat pee? 

Kidney Problems

Kidney problems can also make your dog’s pee smell like cat pee. If the kidneys aren’t functioning properly, they can release excess urea into the urine. This creates the ammonia smell. 

Kidney disease is a serious condition that is common in older dogs. Signs of kidney disease include excessive thirst and urine output. Fatigue and lethargy are also common. Your dog may also experience nausea and vomiting due to waste products in the blood. 

Ammonia smelling urine can also be caused by a urinary infection, or a UTI. This can involve the bladder, kidneys, or both. The urine may smell like ammonia, or have a strong foul odor due to the bacteria in the urine. 

The symptoms of a UTI are similar to those of kidney disease. Your dog may drink lots of water and pee a lot, or they may have difficulty peeing. They will urinate, or attempt to urinate, more frequently. They may also seem to be in pain while peeing. 


Dehydration can also cause the pee to smell like cat urine. When your dog is dehydrated, there’s less urine. This makes the pee much more concentrated than it should be, which increases the volume of ammonia in the urine. 

The signs of dehydration include pale, dry, or tacky gums. Their nose will also be dry. Your dog may be lethargic or seem not to feel well. They may also have a loss of appetite.