For dog owners, there’s nothing worse than a house that smells like urine.
While most people clean their floors and carpets with some kind of soap and warm water, hoping to scrub and scour the urine smell away, unfortunately, this is far from ideal.
Sure, you can try to remove a fresh stain from tile or hardwood floor using simple detergent, but chances are your dog will still notice it, which makes it somewhat pointless.
With carpets, it’s even more complicated, as some of them may require deeper treatment. In some cases, where the urine saturation is old and heavy, replacing the entire carpet will probably be your best option.
Now, I understand that getting rid of pet urine smell might seem a bit challenging, but it’s certainly not impossible!
In this post, you’ll learn what to do when your whole house smells like dog urine, as well as what to avoid when dealing with pet pee odor.
Feel free to check out our product recommendations at the bottom of the page.
Do This If Your House Smells like Dog Urine:
1. Find the Source
Finding the source of the smell is the first step to getting rid of it.
A UV blacklight is one of the most essential tools for fighting pee odors. It can reveal long-dried stains and urine traces that you may have missed, especially if you’re trying to housebreak a puppy.
Here’s how to use it: make sure the room is completely dark before you start searching for dog urine. The pee stain will look like a shiny mark, so it shouldn’t be difficult to locate it.
Use the light on floors, walls, carpets, mattresses, and sofas so you don’t miss anything.
2. Use an Enzyme Cleaner
To avoid future potty accidents, you need to clean the old ones right away.
Once you find the source of the urine smell, you need to remove it entirely, or else your dog will keep marking the same spot again and again. Old accidents, even if washed, may still attract your dog.
A natural enzyme cleaner is one of the best and safest ways to keep dogs from remarking. Want to know more? Here are our top enzyme cleaners.
This product not only breaks down the bacteria that causes the bad smell, but it also neutralizes it. However, make sure to test it in a hidden place first, and then apply and leave it on for 10 minutes. Once that’s done, soak it up in a paper towel.
Keep in mind though, you may need to repeat this process more than once for persistent smells.
I should also mention that it will be quite challenging to treat a heavily soiled carpet using just an enzyme cleaner. In such cases, you should try other options (which I’ll talk about later).
3. Try a Homemade Solution
Does vinegar really help to remove urine odor? While it can, it definitely depends.
In a nutshell, highly concentrated urine tends to have a strong ammonia smell, which has alkaline properties. Vinegar, on the other hand, is acidic, so it does have the ability to neutralize the urine scent.
The downfall is that vinegar isn’t a powerful urine odor remover. Also, it doesn’t seem to be very effective with really stubborn urine smells. If the odor is rather weak, using vinegar may be enough.
In case you decide to use vinegar, here’s how to do it right:
First, don’t apply the vinegar right on the soiled area. Instead, absorb it with paper towels. Once everything is soaked up, mix equal parts of white vinegar and water, and saturate the pee spot.
At this point, pick a toothbrush or a carpet brush to work the mixture into the stain. Then, let it sit for 10 minutes and blot the leftovers using a cloth or more paper towels.
Repeat this process if needed.
4. Consider Buying an Air Purifier
Even if you do everything right, dog urine odors can be hard to eliminate completely.
This is because urine contains compounds that release strong chemicals into the air. These chemicals eventually get oxidized, and that, along with the presence of bacteria, is what causes the harsh smell.
Besides, your dog can leave traces of urine in places you can’t reach, or don’t even know about.
To remove these nasty smells and odors, you’ll need an air purifier with a carbon filter. You’ll also need a true HEPA filter to capture things like dust, dander, and hair, which may contribute to the bad smell as well.
Look for a product that has both of these filters, as well as a UV lamp for sanitization.
If you’re on a tight budget, an air-purifying bag is a cheaper option for getting rid of unpleasant odors, allergens, and other pollutants. It uses activated bamboo charcoal, which is safe to use around pets, and will stay effective for up to 2 years.
5. Rent A Wet Vac to Clean Your Carpet
Older stains that have managed to soak into the carpet padding and backing may need a deeper cleaning.
For this, you can rent a wet vac to remove tracks of heavy stains and lingering urine odors in the carpet. Some vacuums will even do mattresses and couches.
The way it works is pretty simple; the carpet-cleaning machine pushes clean water through your carpet, and then pulls out the dirty water. See? Simple.
You can use an enzyme cleaner or vinegar at this point to scrub out what’s left of the stain and give it some time to dry completely. While you’re at it, you might as well clean the whole carpet so that it won’t look uneven.
By all means, avoid using steam cleaners to remove urine odors from your carpet, as the heat will set the stain in the fibers for good.
6. Light an Odor Fighting Candle
Once you’ve treated the smell source, it’s time to sit back, dim the lights, and finish the work with a pet odor eliminator candle. Yes, a pet odor eliminator candle!
You can get candles in different fragrances (all the way from Apple Cider to Wildflowers), and some even include a pet odor neutralizer component to remove unpleasant smells.
Also, most of them are pet-safe and environmentally friendly since they’re made from soy wax instead of paraffin, and they usually last for a long time.
When you’re done with the candle, you can reuse the glass jar for your dog’s treats.
On top of that, make sure there’s a full money-back satisfaction guarantee if for some reason you’re not happy with your purchase.
What Not to Use to Remove Dog Urine Odor?
Floor Cleaner: floor cleaners are simply not enough. Even if you can’t notice it, your dog has a much stronger sense of smell, and can almost certainly still notice remnants of his urine on the floor.
Ammonia or Ammonia-Based Products: as mentioned earlier, dog urine naturally smells like ammonia. Therefore, if you use a product that has ammonia in it, your dog will likely continue to mark the same spot you’re trying to clean.
Bleach: while bleach is a powerful disinfectant, it doesn’t do anything to neutralize dog urine odors. Besides, bleach fumes are harmful, and it’s also highly toxic if ingested.
As you can tell, there are far more effective and safe options out there.
How to Help Prevent “Accidents”?
Keep in mind that canines are territorial animals. So when your dog is marking spots around the house, he’s probably following his instincts (rather than trying to get on your nerves). Therefore, never punish your dog for this behavior.
Other potential causes for potty accidents include poor training, some kind of medical issue, or stress.
The question is, how do you stop this destructive behavior in dogs?
If your dog has a marking problem, you should seriously consider having him neutered or spayed (which has other medical benefits as well).
In most cases, neutering a male dog can help reduce marking issues by 90%, and even though marking is less common in female dogs, spaying usually resolves it.
While the best time to spay or neuter a dog is before sexual maturity, be sure to talk to your vet and ask about the right timing.
2. Start Housebreaking Early
The most important thing you should do to avoid accidents is to house train your dog as soon as possible.
Whether you decide to do potty training indoors or outdoors is your choice, as long as your dog knows where he’s allowed to relieve himself, as well as where he isn’t.
In case you choose to potty train your dog to go outside, then you need to take him out often. If not, he won’t have any other choice but to do his business inside the house. You should take your dog for potty breaks three to four times a day, and even more if he’s a senior or a puppy.
If the bathroom schedule is too demanding, you can make use of pee pads, or hire a dog walker to help you out.
3. Check for Other Reasons
If your dog is properly potty trained, and your house is clean of accidents, yet the urination problem persists, then maybe there’s a health issue you should talk to your vet about.
Aging, urinary tract infections, and kidney stones can all contribute to a lack of bladder control in dogs, which makes them more prone to having accidents.
If your dog is soiling around the house mostly when he’s alone, he might be having separation anxiety. You can learn more about this behavioral problem in order to address it, or consult with a professional.
Here are a few products to consider when dealing with a house that constantly smells of dog urine.