Why Does My Dog Smell Like Ammonia? (5 Common Reasons)

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my dog smells like ammonia

If you’ve been noticing a strong ammonia smell coming from your dog recently, it could be that they have developed an ammonia odor. Dogs can develop a variety of smells for many reasons, but why does my dog smell like ammonia? Well, there are various causes of why dogs smell like ammonia, and we will discuss the most common ones below.

Here’s The Short Answer to Why Your Dog Smells Like Ammonia:

The strong ammonia smell is often indicative of an underlying medical condition. Possible reasons for the dog to smell like ammonia include infections, urinary tract infections, and kidney disease or bladder stones. It can also be due to dehydration or inappropriate feeding habits (eating too much protein).

Let’s delve deeper into each of these explanations for why your dog smells like ammonia.

1. Your Dog is Dehydrated

Before you freak out about why your dog’s urine smells like ammonia, it’s important to consider the possibility that he/she may be dehydrated.

Dehydration can cause a certain type of smell in dogs called ketones, and these are often confused with or mistaken for an ammonia-like odor. As long as you’ve had your vet examine him/her thoroughly (renal function tests) and ruled out kidney disease, bladder stones, or urinary tract infections, then dehydration is likely why he/she smells like ammonia.

To prevent this from happening again: give them more water! Keep clean water available at all times – especially during mealtime – so that there is less chance of becoming thirsty between meals. It also doesn’t hurt to try adding some canine electrolytes into his drinking water.

2. Your Dog’s Food Could Be The Cause

A change in your dog’s diet can cause a sudden change in the dog’s urine smell. For example, foods like asparagus and fish can make the dog’s urine has a strong smell of ammonia.

If your dog is on a diet that contains more protein than it usually does, this can also affect how they smell and why they are smelly.

Protein takes time to digest, so if you feed your dog too much of it at once, its waste will produce ammonia which is why dogs who have high-protein diets may be smelling like ammonia.

If you want to make a change in your dog’s diet, make sure to do it gradually. Here are some tips for those who look to change their dogs’ foods:

  1. Determine what type of food your dog is currently eating
  2. Research the best foods for your specific type of dog
  3. Choose a new food and transition them to it by mixing in small amounts over time until they are fully transitioned
  4. Give them plenty of water during this process as changing their diet can make them feel thirsty or hungry more often than usual
  5. Keep an eye out for signs that they’re not adjusting well to the change, such as vomiting or diarrhea, and consult with your vet if you notice any issues

3. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Another common cause of why your dog’s urine has a strong smell of ammonia instead of normal urine is a urinary tract infection (UTI). If your dog has frequently been urinating and the dog’s urine smells like ammonia, it’s best to take him to the veterinarian for an exam and diagnosis.

A UTI can be caused by bacteria in the bladder that moves up into the urinary tract from some other area of the body – such as from the kidneys or prostate gland.

The symptoms are often vague, which makes it hard to diagnose at home, but luckily, there are many easily identifiable signs: frequent urination (especially during sleep), blood mixed with urine, painful urination (e.g., difficulty trying to start peeing, straining while peeing) fever, lethargy/sleepiness).

Bear in mind that UTI not only can happen in female dogs but also in male dogs.

4. Your Dog is Suffering from Kidney Disease

Kidney disease or kidney failure could be another reason why your dog’s urine smells like ammonia.

A dog’s kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste from the blood and balancing electrolytes in our pets, so if they don’t work properly it can lead to an unpleasant ammonia smell.

When a dog’s kidney starts malfunctioning (or when there is something blocking them), protein, and the ammonia made by bacteria build up in the dog’s urine which contributes to a strong ammonia smell.

What causes kidney disease in dogs?

Dogs with chronic kidney disease are usually older dogs. It is very difficult to find out what caused the disease. The early symptoms can be easy to miss. Why? They are mild in nature and not too bad, so people may not know they have it or think it doesn’t need a visit to the vet.

There are many causes of chronic kidney illness for dogs, but one of the most common ones is dental care that has gone wrong. When this happens, there will be bacteria in your dog’s mouth that enters the digestive system and makes things worse for your dog’s kidneys by slowing down their ability to filter waste properly.

5. Your Dog Has Bladder Stones

Bladder stones can result from a number of causes, but oversaturation of the urine with urine crystals is the biggest cause of bladder stones in dogs.

The signs include foul-smelling urine, difficulty urinating, and discolored urine. Bladder stones can be very painful for dogs to pass because they may get stuck when passing them out of their bodies. This is why it will take an x-ray to know what type of stone needs treatment.

Bladder stones should be removed surgically or broken up with ultrasonic waves if possible; otherwise, your vet may recommend a therapeutic diet to dissolve the stones and crystals.

How do I Get Rid of The Ammonia Smell from My Dog?

1. Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Drinking enough water is not only important to the health of your dog’s urine but also to their overall health. In fact, if your dog loses 10% of the body water, they can face serious illness. How much your dog drinks will depend on the size of their body as well as other factors such as activity level, outside temperature, climate conditions, and heat intolerance.

As a general rule, dogs should drink at least one ounce of water per pound of body weight per day. Here’re some tips to keep your dog hydrated:

  1. Give your dog water at all times. You can buy a filtering water fountain to help them drink more healthy water. It will also save you a lot of time because you need to refill it less often than if you had a regular bowl or bucket of water.
  2. Carry a portable dog water bowl with you when you are out on walks so that your pooch always has access to fresh, clean drinking water
  3.  Keep an eye out for signs that your dog is dehydrated, such as excessive panting, dry mouth, sunken eyes, and lethargy.

2. Change Your Dog’s Diet

Most dog owners who are struggling with a strong ammonia smell will find that their pet’s diet has some impact on how the dog’s breath or the dog’s urine smells like ammonia.

As mentioned above, one of the common causes why your dog smells like ammonia is kidney disease, and when it comes to kidney disease, the dog’s diet plays a huge role.

Kidney disease is scary, but many pooches can live with it if they are diagnosed early and treated well. While most drugs used to treat kidney disease in dogs are usually meant to reduce symptoms, feeding your dog the right diet can dramatically increase their chance of survival.

If your dog suffers from kidney disease, your vet may administer a diet that is:

  • low in phosphorus
  • low in protein
  • low in sodium
  • and supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil

3. Take Your Dog The Vet

Finally, when all is said and done, there is no substitute for a proper vet check-up. If your vet suspects that your dog smelling like ammonia has something to do with his/her medical conditions, your vet will likely conduct urine and blood test.

How do I Get Rid of Ammonia Smells in The House?

I’m sure you’re well aware of the issue of strong smelling dog urine in your home. If not, it’s an unpleasant odor that can be difficult to remove!

If you have tried everything and want to give up on your carpets or other items here are a few options:

  • Clean up any spills or messes as soon as they happen – don’t let them sit! and open up all the windows and doors in your house.
  • Spray a mixture of water and vinegar around the room to neutralize the smell.
  • If your dog pees on the floor, you can clean it up with paper towels, newspapers, or a towel. You will need to soak up most of the urine first. Then sprinkle some baking soda on the wet area. Leave overnight and then vacuum it up tomorrow morning.
  • Use a wet vacuum cleaner to deal with a strong urine smell.


If this is the first time your dog has given off a strong ammonia smell, it could be that he’s been rolling in something foul or because they’re not drinking enough clean fresh water.

But if your dog’s ammonia smell doesn’t go away after cleaning and providing fresh water, there may be another issue at hand. It’s important that you take your poor pooch over to the vet for professional advice!

Related Questions

1. Why Does My Female Dog Have a Strong Ammonia Smell?

UTI is one of the most common reasons for a change in a female dog’s odor. This occurs because bacteria from the urinary tract spread to other parts of the body, including the genital areas.

Dogs with these problems can be treated by antibiotics, following veterinary care instructions, and changing their diets according to your veterinarian’s directions!

2. Why Does My Dog’s Pee Smell Like Ammonia?

A healthy dog’s urine is clean and has a less pungent smell. If your dog’s pee smells like ammonia, it’s likely a sign of infection in the bladder or kidneys.

3. Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Ammonia?

Your dog’s breath smells like ammonia is another indication that your dog has a kidney infection or failure.

4. Why Does My Dog’s Poop Smell Like Ammonia?

There are many potential causes for why your dog’s poop smells like ammonia.

Possible causes of an ammonia-like odor include gastrointestinal problems, wrong food, or poor diet. An abrupt change in the water dish may also produce such odor because this can cause rapid elimination and dehydration, indicating certain health issues such as kidney, liver dysfunction, and urinary tract infection already present before said changes were made.

5. Why Does My Dog Smell After Going Outside?

Dogs typically smell that way because they have been rolling in something stinky or have been digging in the dirt.

By Andrew Garf

Andrew Garf has loved dogs, especially German Shepherds, since he was 10 years old. Though he also loves burgers, training dogs is his real passion. That's why he created the website TrainYourGSD.com - to help dog owners learn how to properly train, care for, and bond with their German Shepherd dogs.