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Why does my dog smell like pee?

You come home from work and sit down on the couch. Your dog hops up beside you for pets. The problem is, they smell like pee. You quickly wave them off the couch because you can’t handle the smell. It leaves you wondering, why does your dog smell like pee?

There are many reasons for this. Most of them are harmless, but the smell can indicate a serious health issue as well. 

Why does my dog smell like pee?

Your dog can smell like pee for a variety of reasons, including having pee on their fur and kidney failure. 

Rolling in Pee

No one has a concrete answer for why dogs roll in pee, but it’s a fairly common behavior. We do know that scent communication, particularly with urine and feces, is an integral part of dog society. 

It’s theorized that dogs may roll in other dog’s urine to smell like a dominant dog. When they roll in their own urine, it’s possible they are trying to spread their scent around the area. 

The fluffier and longer your dog’s fur is, the more pee it will absorb. This means a short-haired dog may roll in pee and be nearly undetectable to a human nose, but a long-haired dog may smell quite pungent. 

Peeing On Themselves

Just like people, dogs have accidents. Incontinence occurs when your dog has limited control over its bladder. It may pee in inappropriate places or on itself simply because it can’t hold its pee. 

Incontinence is common in senior dogs and puppies. Spay incontinence occurs in female dogs that are spayed, affecting about 20% of them. 

Dribbling can also cause your dog to smell like pee. With incontinence, your dog will empty its bladder involuntarily. When a dog dribbles, there are only a few drops of urine. You may not even notice it, other than the smell because the pee got on your dog’s fur. 

Your dog may be peeing on themselves due to splash back. When a dog pees, it can hit the ground and then splash back up onto them. Dogs aren’t as conscious of their bathroom habits as we are, and splash back doesn’t seem to be a pressing concern for them. 

If the surface is hard and nonabsorbent, the pee may get on your dog’s paws because it puddles. Instead of running away from the dog, it pools around their feet. This can also occur if your dog walks through their pee.

Getting Peed On 

Your dog may be getting peed on by another animal. Dogs will sometimes urinate on other animals, including other dogs. Surprisingly, it’s also a common pastime for cats. In both animals, it’s a sign of dominance. 


UTIs occur in about 14% of dogs at some point in their lives. It’s caused by some of the same bacteria that cause them in humans. Symptoms are similar, including strong-smelling urine, incontinence, discomfort when peeing, peeing more often, and thirst. Severe cases can cause lethargy, vomiting, and stiffness. 

Kidney Problems

In addition to UTIs, kidney problems can cause your dog to smell like urine. The kidneys aren’t able to filter all the waste from their body. This causes the body to smell like urine due to waste products. 


Dehydration gives pee a much stronger smell. Pee is typically 90% water, so the waste is greatly diluted. When your dog is dehydrated, their urine will be more concentrated, and have a stronger odor. 

Why does my dog smell like pee after a bath?

Most often, a dog smells like pee because it has pee on its fur for one reason or another. When your dog smells like pee after a bath, this can be more concerning. They should smell better, right? 

Kidney Problems

Unfortunately, if your dog smells like pee after a bath, it could be kidney problems. Because the smell is coming from inside their body, it will quickly return after they are bathed. 

Rolling in Pee

Dogs seem to love nothing more than rolling around in dirt, or even pee, right after a bath. It’s thought that one reason for this is that your dog loves that stinky smell that you just washed off. It’s only natural that they replace their favorite scent as soon as possible. 

Dogs can get anxiety from unfamiliar smells, and so it’s easy to see how their body smelling like vanilla instead of dog could throw them for a loop. It’s also possible that they are simply trying to get dry, or they are excited the bath is over. 


Your dog’s diet can cause them to smell like pee as well. It’s thought that this is because some dogs have difficulty processing certain ingredients. These ingredients eventually come out through the body, causing a urine smell. It may go away for a few hours after a bath, and then return as your dog releases natural oils from the skin. 

Why does my dog’s breath smell like pee?

We’ve all heard of doggie breath. It’s an unpleasant odor that often smells similar to their last meal. However, it’s distinct from a pee smell. What causes your dog’s breath to smell like pee? 

Kidney Disease

Again, kidney disease is the likely suspect. When waste builds up in the body due to lack of kidney function, it can come out on the breath as well as through the skin. 


The smell from diabetes is often fruity. However, severe ketone elevation can cause it to smell like acetone or urine. 

Why does my dog’s bed smell like pee?

You want your dog to have a nice clean bed. You walk by and realize it smells like pee. A dog that is healthy physically and mentally will not pee on its bed. So, what happened? 

Incontinence or Dribbling

If your dog has incontinence or is a dribbler, they may pee on the bed because they can’t control it. If you have a puppy, senior, or spay dog this may be the culprit. 

Pee On Their Fur

It’s perfectly possible that your dog has pee on their fur and then lays down in their bed. This can of course get pee on the bed as well, particularly if your dog has fluffy or long hair. 

Other Animal Peeing on Bed

If you have another pet, including a cat or another dog, they may be peeing on the dog’s bed. It’s a way to show dominance and mark territory. It’s rude, but it happens. 

Lack of Instinct

Dogs that have been properly raised and trained will not intentionally pee where they sleep. This is instinctual. In the wild, it helps them stay healthy.

However, this instinct can get lost. This usually occurs when the dog was forced to pee in their sleeping or eating area as a pup. If they are confined to a small area like a crate for many hours, they will eventually have no choice but to pee where they sleep and eat. This can remove their natural instinct to avoid this behavior, leading them to pee on their bed later in life. 

How can I keep my dog from smelling like pee?

Tired of your dog smelling like a porta-potty? The good news is there are things you can do to get rid of the pee smell. 

Vet Visit

If you notice any signs of illness or strange behavior in your dog in addition to pee smell, you’ll need to make a trip to the vet. Urine smell can be caused by conditions that are life-threatening if not treated properly. 

If you are unable to identify the cause of the smell, or your dog smells of urine after a bath, a vet visit is in order, even if there are no other symptoms. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pet’s health. 

Pet Wipes

If your dog smells like pee because it ends up on their fur, pet wipes are a lifesaver. Most parents always have wet wipes on hand, particularly if they have small children. Pet parents should do the same!

There’s no way you can give your dog a bath each time they pee. If they enjoy rolling in pee, they may do it immediately after a bath, anyway. 

Pet wipes give you a way to gently wipe urine off your dog’s fur quickly and conveniently. Pet wipes are also designed to be gentle on your dog’s skin, so you won’t have to worry about using them frequently. 

Trim Fur

Pet wipes aren’t the only solution to pee fur. You can also give your dog a trim. Short hair means less hair to soak up urine, and less to clean as well. You can take your dog to a groomer, or simply give them a trim at home. 

Wash Bedding

It’s pretty obvious, but washing your dog’s bedding can help eliminate odors. Even if their bed doesn’t smell like pee, it’s important to give it a wash periodically. 

Deodorizing Shampoo

Some smells, including urine, like to linger. If you’ve ever attempted to get urine out of carpet, you know how difficult it can be to remove the odor. When you bathe your dog, using a deodorizing shampoo can help remove the odor, so your dog smells fresh and clean. 

If you want to skip the store-bought deodorizers and go the natural route, you have a few options. Oatmeal is an excellent deodorizer. It’s also great for skin and coat, which is why oatmeal dog shampoos are popular. Second, you can use baking soda. Just mix a bit with the pet shampoo of your choice and lather up as usual. 

Vinegar Rinse

Not many people enjoy the smell of vinegar, but it’s a great deodorizer as well. Once you’ve bathed your dog and rinsed all shampoo away, you can use a vinegar rinse. Just mix it half-and-half with water and pour it on your dog. 

The vinegar smell dissipates quickly, leaving behind a deodorized pooch. If you find the vinegar scent almost objectionable as the pee scent, you can rinse with plain water after applying the vinegar. 

Deodorizing Spray 

Humans have perfume, and dogs have deodorizing spray. It’s best to choose a natural deodorizing spray, or make your own. For a light deodorizer, mix two cups of water with 3 tablespoons baking soda. Add a teaspoon of dog shampoo. 

For heavy-duty odor removal, mix a quart of hydrogen peroxide with a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid or dog shampoo. Then add 1/4 cup baking soda. You may get a foaming reaction when mixing ingredients, so have space for overflow. 

Lastly, you can make your own doggie perfume. Mix 1 part witch hazel with 3 parts water. Add 5-15 drops of lavender essential oil. It’s important to note that many essential oils are considered toxic to dogs, so use caution if you choose to add other oils.