Why Does My Dog Smell Like Ammonia? (Breath, Pee, & Poop)

When you notice an unusual smell on your dog’s breath, pee, or fur it typically needs further investigation. This is particularly true of ammonia like smells, so just how concerned should you be if your dog’s pee or breath starts to have a strong ammonia smell?

Why does my dog smell like ammonia? The most common reason for a dog’s breath or urine smelling like ammonia is kidney disease or an infection. The dog’s kidneys are not functioning properly and are unable to filter toxic wastes in the blood efficiently. A build up of urea in your dog’s body is often the reason for the ammonia smell.

This means that if your dog smells like ammonia, then it could indicate a health problem. Ammonia smelling breath and urine is often a sign something is not right.

Please read on to find out what could be causing your dog to smell like ammonia, what other signs to look out for and what you can do to get rid of ammonia smells caused by your dog… but above all, if your dog smells like ammonia, please consult with a vet.

Why does my dog smell of ammonia?

There are a number of reasons why your dog could be smelling like ammonia. You may notice this smell coming from their pee, their breath or even their poop. I’m sure you’re also familiar with the occasional foul ammonia smell when your dog farts?

Let’s take a look at why your dog is smelling like ammonia.

1. My dog’s pee smells like ammonia

If you start to notice a change in smell when your dog urinates, this could be an indication all is not well with your pooch. A strong ammonia smell in your dog’s pee could be caused by a kidney infection or disease.

The role of the kidneys is to break down toxins or waste in the blood and eliminate them from the body. If your dog’s kidneys are not functioning efficiently, they may be battling to break down and get rid of toxins. This results in increased levels of urea which causes that ammonia stink.

Dehydration could be another reason why your dog’s urine smells like ammonia. A change of diet could also be the reason your dog’s pee is smelling like ammonia.

2. Why does my dog’s breath smell like ammonia?

Smelling ammonia on your dog’s breath is another indication your dog could have a kidney disease or a kidney infection. Instead of picking up the ammonia smell in his urine, you’re noticing it strongly on his breath.

why does my dogs breath smell like ammonia
If your dog’s breath smells like ammonia, it’s worth talking to the vet as it could relate to a health condition.

Dog owners sometimes complain that their dog’s breath smells like urine. If you’re getting whiffs of ammonia every time your fur-baby breathes into your face, then get him checked out by your vet.

3. My dog’s poop smells like ammonia

While we accept our doggie’s poop does reek, most times we can tell if it’s a normal kind of stink. But, if you start to notice it’s smelling more like ammonia, there may be a cause for concern.

When your dog’s feces starts emitting an ammonia smell it could be an indication he’s having gastrointestinal problems. It can also be an indication they’re not digesting their food efficiently and ammonia is one of the signs this is happening.

4. Why does my dog’s farts smell like ammonia?

We’re all familiar with that rotten egg smell whenever someone lets off a seriously bad fart. The same applies to our dogs. The ammonia smell could be the result of all the digestive activity going on inside your dog’s stomach.

The process of digesting is quite intricate and involves bacteria and gut flora. While digestion takes place, different gases are released such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane. Mix this with hydrogen sulphide and the resulting smell can make you pinch your nose close.

5. My female dog smells like ammonia

Sometimes you may notice your female dog has a strong smell of ammonia. Dog owners have asked if this is linked to their heat cycle, but the answer is generally no. Your female dog could be smelling of ammonia because she has a urinary tract infection. By the way, male dogs also get this infection.

A urinary tract infection or UTI, is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. It can be painful and cause great discomfort to your dog. Signs of UIT include your dog licking her urinal area often, crying or barking while peeing and the strong smell of ammonia.

UTI is very common among dogs and your vet will prescribe a course of antibiotics for treatment.

Handy Hint: Did you know that puppies can get very bad breath when teething? Here’s why and how to get rid of it.

What Are the Signs of Kidney Disease?

Dehydration, a change in diet, UTI and gastrointestinal upsets can all be reasons for your dog smelling like ammonia. However, when it comes to a persistent ammonia smell that doesn’t go away, you can suspect kidney disease. This is a serious condition, and your dog needs to be seen by your vet.

Here are some signs that may tell you dog has kidney disease:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy or low energy levels
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Bad breath
  • Strong ammonia smell from the mouth or urine

Aging dogs can present with chronic kidney disease simply because their kidney tissues are wearing out. Smaller dog breeds may start to show signs of kidney disease when they reach 10 to 14 years old. Larger dog breeds may develop kidney disease when they get to 7  or 8  years old.

Getting the right diagnosis is essential so your vet can advise a treatment plan for your dog.

How do I get rid of ammonia smells in the house?

Your dog’s pee could be smelling of ammonia for a simple reason.  It could be because they’re not drinking enough clean, fresh water, or you’ve changed their diet. They also may have eaten something dodgy on the sly and both their urine and poop reeks of ammonia.

Once you’ve ruled out any medical condition, you can have peace of mind that your dog’s ammonia smell is not caused by an illness or infection. However, what do you do when your dog has an accident on your Persian carpet in the lounge and it now reeks of ammonia?

Here are some tips for getting rid of ammonia smells caused by your dog’s pee:

  • Baking soda: Wipe up the pee with paper towels, newspaper or a towel. Once you’ve soaked up most of the urine, sprinkle baking soda on the wet area. A ¼ cup is normally sufficient. Leave overnight and then vacuum up the next day. Baking soda is one of the most effective ways of removing most unpleasant odors.
  • Vinegar: This is good for those dried out urine stains. Mix vinegar and baking soda together in a spray bottle. Spray a mist on the stain and blot with paper towels. Repeat a few times until the smell disappears.
  • Wet vacuum cleaner: These vacuum cleaners are great for those areas where the urine smell is persistent. You may need to go over the carpet a few times but the smell will eventually go away.
  • Enzymatic cleaners: When all else fails, look for an enzymatic cleaner formulated to get rid of dog and cat urine stains. These commercial products work efficiently on all surfaces including hardwood floors.


Dogs are always smelling of something. It could be the bird poop they rolled in or the trash they scavenged while you weren’t looking. Your dog even has his own natural smell that doesn’t smell off.

Most times, we don’t mind our dog’s smells. Well, sometimes.

There are days though when you may pick up a whiff that doesn’t smell too good on your dog. Their breath could be a bit off or you’ve noticed their pee’s odor is stronger than normal. If you know your dog is smelling ripe because of something he’s eaten, then all is well.

But a dog that smells like ammonia is something you should not ignore, as it could be the sign of a serious health condition – please do consult with your vet for expert advice.

You might also like…

Dogs can smell of the strangest things, and here are some more to look out for.

Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/nose-olfactory-sense-of-smell-dog-4980872/

Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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