Stinky Urine in Dogs: Why Does My Dog’s Pee Smell Bad?

In people, some foods, such as asparagus, can make urine smell quite weird.

I don’t expect your dog eating a plate of asparagus for dinner?

I am even not sure it would make their urine smell bad because Jasmine did get some asparagus in her meals and I don’t recall any noticeable changes in the smell of her pee. Of course, it might have changed, but as much as I monitor what comes out of my dogs closely, being outside and one’s nose not getting THAT close, asparagus pee would likely go unnoticed.

This brings me to the point that with the distance of your nose from your dog’s pee and the way the smell would dissipate in the outdoor environment, I imagine that in most cases, the urine has to smell pretty bad before you’d notice unless your dog is also having potty accidents at home.

Stinky Urine in Dogs: Why Does My Dog's Pee Smell Bad?

Is it pee you’re smelling?

Can you be sure the smell is definitely coming from the urinary tract? You can mistake other things for smelly urine, such as:

  • pyometra
  • vaginitis
  • skin infections around the vulva or prepuce

Concentrated urine can have a strong odor.

The more concentrated the urine, the stronger it will smell of ammonia.  If low hydration or high urine concentration were the reason, the color would also be a very strong shade of yellow.

Dehydration is not a good thing, though, and if my dog had such concentrated urine more than once, say after a long trip or walk, I’d want to take measures to keep the hydrated better.

Sweet-smelling urine?

Roses are supposed to smell sweet; urine is not. So if your dog’s urine smells sweet, you are indeed actually smelling sugar. Glucose, to be more accurate. As you can imagine, sugar might belong in your baking recipe but not in your dog’s urine. If this happens, there is too much glucose in your dog’s blood, and it spills into pee, and you’re likely looking at diabetes. A simple urine test will help determine whether this might be the case.

Further, dogs with diabetes are prone to infections, and the combination of high sugar and a UTI is possible. So that is double the reason to have your dog’s urine tested asap.


I am unaware of medications that would make any profound changes to a dog’s urine though I imagine there might be some. However, I am aware of a case where a dog’s horribly smelling urine was attributed to a chemo treatment while it was a severe bladder infection instead. Given the circumstances, assuming the terrible smell was from the meds made sense, but I strongly believe that assumptions are your worst enemy. Never assume anything. Verify, confirm.

Urinary tract infections (UTI)

All this brings us to the most common cause behind bad-smelling urine, urinary tract infections. That is the number one cause of stinky pee. And no, a UTI is not a light matter and not just because of the discomfort it brings.

Other causes

Other potential causes of smelly urine include crystalluria/uroliths (although the smell is probably just concentrated urine) and possibly neoplasia of the urinary tract, for example, a tumor growing in the bladder. Prostate disease in male dogs may also affect the smell of the urine.

Urinalysis is a non-invasive, affordable, quick test. If your dog’s urine looks or smells weird, get it done.

Related articles:
Bad Odor in Dogs: Why Is My Dog Stinky?

Further reading:
What Your Pet’s Urine Says About His Health

Categories: Stinky urineSymptoms

Tags: :

Jana Rade edited by Dr. Joanna Paul BSc BVSc

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience. Dr. Joanna Paul BSc BVSc is our wonderful sponsor and has been kind to edit and fact-check my important articles.

  1. One of the worst things to get rid of in a cat is a persistent UTI so your dog version caught my interest. I had no idea sugar could make urine smell either! I admit that anything outside my usual ‘normal’ would have me scheduling a vet visit.

    If I was a dog owner your post would give me plenty of clues and symptoms to be alert for. The post is a mini-seminar in itself – thank you!

    • When it smells bad, you don’t have to get all that close to smell it. Now and then I also like to catch some and use my eyes to see what the color is, whether it’s cloudy and such.

    • Any particular reason you’re concerned about that? It’s common but not that common. Good hydration, frequent potty breaks and probiotics help prevent that.

  2. WOW!! This is great info! I’ll bring it up with Henry’s vet again when he goes in for his Fall check-up in a few weeks. He’s always had strong smelling urine. I’ve asked a few times about it and the vet said not to worry about it. I think I need to be more persistent. I’ll ask for a urinalysis as well to make sure he’s ok. He does drink water throughout the day. I’m always very aware of how much water he drinks. The vet said that this is just him. Hmmm….now I’m not sure. Perfect timing! I’m investigating this one further.

    I’m also sharing it with all my dog parents. Great article, Jana!

    • Do you get urinalysis when at the vet? That provides great info. Concentrated urine will have a relatively strong smell too. What color is his urine?

Share your thoughts