Why Does My Dog Smell Like Maple Syrup? (Urine & Breath Warnings)

why does my dog smell like maple syrup

Our dogs are always smelling of something. If it’s not the bad breath caused by something they ate, it’ll be because they rolled in something nasty at the park. What I find stranger though is when you hear reports of dogs smelling sweet like maple syrup, as that doesn’t make as much sense.

It’s not unusual though, and I’ve had comments in the past from pet owners worried about their dog’s urine smelling like maple syrup, not just the breath and coat.

In this guide I prepared, you can read all my research into why this happens and what it means, including when you should really talk with your vet about. I’ve also spoken with a vet about maple syrup urine disease in dogs and whether it’s even a thing.

Why does my dog smell like maple syrup? In serious cases your dog’s breath and urine can smell like maple syrup due to canine diabetes. This won’t always be the case, but if not diagnosed and treated, your dog could face some serious health issues.

Please be aware though, it won’t always mean your dog is ill. Some dogs smell sweet naturally, so a maple syrup odor doesn’t always mean bad news. Your dog could even smell like maple syrup due a certain harmless plant that grows in your neighborhood.

Below I will share with you what I learned why your dog’s nose, breath, or pee smells like maple syrup so you can make an informed decision on what to do.

The bottom line though is that you should always consult with a professional vet. I am not that, just a dog owner and lover who share research and experience on this blog.

Why does my dog’s urine smell like maple syrup?

If you notice your dog’s urine is smells like maple syrup, it could be a sign of canine diabetes. Excessive levels of sugar in the urine can also cause it to smell of maple syrup, though this is often described as a more sickly-sweet smell.

Canine diabetes is a serious health problem you don’t want to leave unmanaged. If left untreated, your doggie will get seriously ill.

“When dogs suffer from canine diabetes, their pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. A diabetic dog’s body cannot control the levels of sugar in its blood and, this is called hyperglycaemia. Many dogs can cope with this for a while, but they often become seriously unwell if they acquire another illness, such as a urine infection. And diabetic animals are very prone to suffer from other health problems.” (view source)

It may not be canine diabetes. Your dog might be suffering from a bacterial urinary infection. This is also known to make a dog’s pee smell like maple syrup.

But recurring urinary infections can also be a symptom of diabetes, so I always say – get it checked out with the vet.

Why does my dog’s breath smell like maple syrup?

If you start noticing your dog all of sudden has a sweet, sticky-smelling breath then take note. Has he managed to get hold of your stash of maple syrup from the kitchen cupboards? Nope? Okay then it “might” be more serious.

It’s always a good idea to take your dog to the vet when you notice this kind of maple syrup smell on their breath. It could be a sign of canine diabetes – similar to what us humans can get.

If you notice any of the other signs I’ve listed below, together with the maple syrup smelling breath, then you definitely need to get your dog to the vet:

  • Peeing all the time:Increased urination is one of the most common symptoms of diabetes, it can be uncontrollable and found on furniture.
  • Drinking water excessively:When your dog suddenly seems to develop a need to drink water all the time, then you know something isn’t right.
  • Losing weight:If your dog starts to lose weight even if he’s eating his meals, then you’ve got a reason to worry.
  • Eating more: When your dog seems to be hungry all the time and wants to eat more (but is losing weight), then you need to get him checked out.

These are all common symptoms of canine diabetes, together with the maple syrup smelling breath.

Why does my dog’s coat smell like maple syrup?

You may notice your doggie’s maple syrup smell is coming from his skin or fur and not from his breath. Every time you cuddle, you can’t help but notice the sweet smell.

Should you be worried?

Once you’ve ruled out the smell is not coming from his breath, then you could possibly consider a yeast infection.

It’s actually quite common for your four-legged friend to get a yeast infection around their nose or ears. This is where moisture can get trapped and create the perfect environment for yeast growth.

As they scratch and rub their faces they could be spreading the infection (and smell) to the rest of their body. It’s often a sickly, sweet smell which some people get confused with maple syrup.

Some dog owners also describe this smell as being like cookies or biscuits.

Take your dog to the vet so he can get the proper treatment to sort out the yeast infection. It normally clears up quickly once they’re given medication.

There’s also a plant that makes dogs smell like maple syrup

If your vet has ruled out both canine diabetes and yeast infections being the cause of your pooch’s maple syrup smell, then you could consider the California Cudweed! This is the plant that makes dogs smell like maple syrup.

Crazy… but true.

I’m talking about a pretty innocuous plant; California Cudweed – also known as Ladies Tobacco or California Everlasting. While commonly found in on the west coast of the U.S. you can find it growing from Oregon to Baja California, Mexico.

california cuddled
This is the plant that makes dogs smell like maple syrup (Image CC 2.0 flickr.com/photos/50838842@N06/34018683705)

This plant grows wild in forests, woodlands and other similar areas. It has small clusters of white flowers with the leaves having a distinct maple syrup smell when rubbed.

If you’re living anywhere near these plants, your dog could be having a roll in them whenever he goes out to play. He could even be taking a fancy to nibbling the leaves because of their tantalizing, sweet maple syrup smell.

Is the California Cudweed poisonous to dogs?

I don’t believe so, as it’s not listed on the ASPCA list of toxic plants, so you don’t need to stress too much. But if your dog is eating a lot of it perhaps speak to the vet about it.

He may be missing something in his diet that needs to be replaced.

Is it safe for my dog to eat maple syrup?

Maple syrup, in itself, is not toxic for dogs. But eating excessive amounts of sugar is, so it’s not a good idea for your dog.

If you let your dog consume too much sugar, they’ll face some health issues. Not only will he become obese, but he could develop diabetes, have liver problems or hypoglycemia.

So, if licks up the odd dribble whenever you’re munching on pancakes, I guess it’s not such a problem.

But, if you let him have his own plate of pancakes and maple syrup to keep you company, then I think you’re heading for some problems down the line!

More on canine diabetes

If you see any of the symptoms described above, in addition to your dog’s urine smelling like maple syrup, please do consult with a vet for peace of mond.

When your dog starts to show the following signs, then you know the diabetes is progressing:

  • He gets lethargic:When your dog no longer wants to play ball or go for his walkies, then you know something is wrong. Or, if he’s sleeping more than usual.
  • No longer wants to eat:When diabetes progresses, your dog will start to lose his appetite. So, once when he was eating like mad, he’ll no longer show an interest in food.
  • He loses interest in life:Yes, dogs also suffer from depression and if they’re not well, they’ll get depressed and sad.
  • Starts bringing up:When your dog starts to vomit, this could also be an indication that the diabetes is progressing in his body.

Unfortunately, if you let your dog’s diabetes progress untreated, your dog will eventually get very sick. What’s important to know is most canine diabetes can be treated successfully.

Don’t delay getting your dog to the vet – just a slight smell of maple syrup is enough to be worried about – better to be safe than sorry!

What can be done for my dog diagnosed with canine diabetes?

It’s scary when you hear your vet telling you your special fur-baby has a serious disease. But, if treated in time and managed, your dog can live a full life with diabetes.

Your vet will come up with a treatment plan which could include the following steps:

  • A special diet:Your vet will recommend a specialized, balanced diet which will help to control the sugar levels.
  • Insulin injections: This is often done twice daily after your dog’s meals.
  • Exercise plan:Keeping your dog active helps to manage the sugar and stress levels. And prevents them from becoming overweight.

By following the treatment plan set out by your vet your dog can be expected to live a long and happy life. It’ll require some effort and dedication from your side but that’s not a problem when it’s your special dog.

Maple syrup urine disease in dogs

Lastly there’s a condition that’s very rare in humans called maple syrup urine disease. According to the NHS, it’s defined as:

“Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is a rare but serious inherited condition. It means the body cannot process certain amino acids (the “building blocks” of protein), causing a harmful build-up of substances in the blood and urine.”

Whilst researching this guide, I came across some pet owners asking if their dog can have maple syrup urine disease.

I read a comment from a vet online, the following should be considered:

“Dogs don’t get maple syrup urine disease. Even with humans, it’s so rare than only one in a million people get it. If your dog’s urine smells like maple syrup, one of the most likely causes is diabetes, so if your dog hasn’t been tested for diabetes, it might be a good idea to have that done.”


Maple syrup actually smells pretty good especially when dolloped on waffles. But it can be a sign of a health issue when you smell it on your dog or in their urine.

Whilst your dog is probably fine, please do check with a vet to be completely sure.

You might also like…

Here are some more things your dog might smell like, and what it can mean.

Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/waffle-belgian-syrup-breakfast-984499/

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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