Why Does My Dog’s Breath and Urine Smell Like Ammonia?

Did you go to cuddle with your pet recently and recoil at the stench of a rotten egg? 

Dog smells are an important indicator of its health and well-being, so if you notice that your dog smells like urine ammonia, you must investigate further.

A strong ammonia smell from your dog’s urine, poop, or breath is a common indication of an underlying health problem.

It could be dehydration, a urinary tract infection, bladder stones, or even advanced kidney failure. 

This article discusses the potential causes of a pungent smell emanating from a dog’s breath or toxic waste. We also discuss how to eliminate ammonia smells from your home. 

Let’s dive in!

Reasons Why Your Dog Smells Like Ammonia

Here are five common reasons why your dog’s urine, fart, poop, skin, or breath may smell like ammonia:

1. Dehydration

1. Dehydration

If your dog smells like ammonia, it could simply be dehydrated. If your dog drinks very little water or exercises and plays too much, it can lead to dehydration. 

When your dog is suffering from dehydration, it can give rise to a foul odor called ketones which have an ammonia smell. Another sign of dehydration is the loss of elasticity in dog skin.

If you observe that its water bowl is constantly full, encourage your dog to drink water regularly. You must keep a close eye on and train your dog to remain hydrated.

Make sure that it drinks water regularly, especially during and after meals and bouts of exercise.

Keep your dog’s water bowl clean and refill it every few hours with fresh water. Give it treats and tons of praise when it takes a drink. 

You can also add electrolytes to your dog’s water to ensure it gets all the nutrients it needs.

2. Change in Diet

If you’ve recently switched up your brand of dog food and began to notice the ammonia smell after that, blame it on the wrong food or poor diet.

Certain ingredients in your dog’s diet, such as fish or asparagus, can make your dog’s urine smell like ammonia.

If your dog’s food contains too much protein, it can also cause an unpleasant odor when it urinates or defecates.

Protein takes much more time to break down than other nutrients, so any excess in your dog’s diet can lead to increased ammonia in its waste.

Learn about the foods best for your dog’s breed and consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

If you need to alter your pet’s diet, do it slowly by mixing the new ingredient in small portions over time. This will help your dog transition and prevent the ammonia smell in the future. 

If your dog starts to vomit or has an upset stomach during this transition in its diet, take it to your vet immediately.

3. Urinary Tract Infection

If your dog’s pee smells like ammonia, the underlying cause of the strong urine smell may be a urinary tract infection (UTI). In this case, you must take it to a vet and seek medical attention immediately.

Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria that travel from the bladder to the urinary tract. It can occur in male and female dogs.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of a UTI include: 

  • Urinating frequently
  • Pain while urinating
  • Blood in urine
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Note that a female dog’s urine develops a strong smell during her heat cycle to attract mates. You don’t need to worry about infection if your dog shows no signs of illness.

4. Kidney Disease

4. Kidney Disease

Sometimes, despite experiencing no urinary tract infections, following a healthy diet, and properly hydrating, most dog owners may find that their pet has an ammonia smell that does not disappear. 

The dog may be suffering from chronic kidney failure or chronic kidney disease. The kidneys are vital organs that filter toxic wastes from a dog’s body and keep it healthy.

When a dog’s kidneys stop working correctly, bacteria accumulate in its urine, leading to excess ammonia and a foul odor.

A dog suffering from kidney failure cannot manage protein breakdown products. This results in blood urea nitrogen accumulating in the blood, which can also make the dog smell like ammonia.

It can be hard to track down the cause of the disease as the initial symptoms are often mild.

When the kidney disease reaches advanced stages, dog parents begin to notice other symptoms, such as a dog’s fur, breath, urine, or poop starting to smell like ammonia.

Kidney disease in dogs can also be caused by poor or faulty dental care, which causes bacteria in a dog’s mouth to enter its digestive system.

This slows down the ability of the dog’s kidneys to properly filter toxic wastes.

Older dogs are more likely to suffer from kidney disease as their bodily tissues wear with age.

Small breeds are likely to develop the disease once they turn 10, while larger breeds may exhibit signs as early as seven or eight years of age.

Symptoms of kidney disease include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Too much urine
  • Too little urine
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Sleep problems
  • Depression
  • Strong ammonia odor coming from a dog’s urine or a dog’s breath
  • Blood in urine
  • Sudden weight loss

5. Bladder Stones

The smell of ammonia in dog urine could be due to bladder stones. They form in a dog’s body due to the oversaturation of urine crystals in a dog’s urine.

Common symptoms of bladder stones include:

  • Ammonia odor in urine
  • Abnormal urine color
  • Difficulty or pain while urinating

Bladder stones may cause a lot of pain for dogs while they urinate. Small stones may leave the bladder and get stuck in the urethra, creating a blockage.

Large stones that cannot pass out of the bladder will stay there, resulting in extreme pain, infection, and even partial blockages.

Veterinarians use X-rays to detect bladder stones and determine the best course of treatment for your dog’s situation.

The vet may remove the bladder stones surgically or crush them using ultrasonic waves. If there is little risk for blockage, the vet may prescribe a specific diet to dissolve the crystals and stones naturally.

To prevent bladder stones from developing, avoid giving your dog foods that contain high levels of oxalate, such as spinach, sweet potato, or wheat germ.

They can easily create oxalate crystals in an animal’s urine and, in turn, cause bladder or urethral stones.

When Should You Call a Vet?

When Should You Call a Vet?

If it’s not dehydration or diet changes making your dog smell like ammonia, take your pet to a vet for a proper check-up.

If your vet suspects that your dog’s breath smells like ammonia due to a medical condition, they will perform the necessary urine and blood tests and then decide on the appropriate treatment plan. 

If you find that your dog smells like ammonia and exhibits symptoms of kidney failure, urinary tract infection, or bladder stones, take it to a vet immediately.

Any delay in diagnosis and treatment can lead to severe complications.

Your dog’s urine may also have an ammonia smell or strong odor if it is suffering from yeast infections. This also requires immediate medical care to prevent the condition from worsening.

How to Eliminate Ammonia Smells at Home

How to Eliminate Ammonia Smells at Home

Ammonia in your dog’s breath smell, poop smell, or even your dog’s fart can be incredibly unpleasant and even unbearable when you have to share space with it.

But fortunately, you do not have to live with it for long. 

Taking your dog to the vet will help you solve the root cause of the smell. Meanwhile, you can take the following steps to get rid of the lingering steps:

  • Keep all doors and windows open to encourage air circulation.
  • Clean your dog’s pee using a towel, paper towels, or old newspapers. After soaking the mess up, sprinkle a little baking soda on the affected spot. Let the baking soda sit overnight, and then vacuum up the area in the morning.
  • Mix water and vinegar in a spray bottle and spray it wherever your dog’s ammonia smell lingers. This should neutralize the foul odor.
  • Use a wet vacuum cleaner to clean up areas where your dog’s urine or poop smells are persistent.
  • Create a mixture of 70% water and 30% hydrogen peroxide and use it to dampen a cloth. Blot it on the smelly surface and then rinse with cold water. Repeat several times until you get rid of the smell.


Dogs smell like ammonia for many reasons, including dehydration, diet changes, urinary tract infection, bladder stones, or kidney disease. 

If keeping your pet constantly hydrated and addressing dietary requirements do not help, take it to the vet for expert advice.

Early diagnosis and medical care will help you bring your dog back to good health while eliminating the nasty smells!