What to Do When the Whole House Smells Like Dog Urine?

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house smells like dog urine

Whether you’re potty training your pup or moving into an apartment that had pets, pee smell can be a real problem.

While some of us hope that a little dish soap and warm water would do the trick, unfortunately, it’s far from ideal. Sure, you’ll be able to clean up your dog’s mess, but unless you remove the scent completely, he will keep marking that spot.

When it comes to carpets, things can get a little more complicated, especially if the stains are already old and stubborn.

But don’t give up just yet…

Just because something is challenging, doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

In this post, you’ll learn exactly what to do when your whole house smells like dog urine, and, more importantly, what not to do.

Your House Smells Like Dog Urine, Now What?

1. Find the Stains With a Blacklight

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, as it can reveal long-dried urine stains and traces that you may have missed.

Before you start searching for dog urine, you need to ensure the room is completely dark. The stain will look like a shiny mark, so it shouldn’t be difficult to locate it.

Check out the floors, walls, carpets, mattresses, and sofas so you don’t miss anything.

2. Get a Good Enzyme Cleaner

Once you find the source of the smell, it’s important to deal with it right away. If you don’t, your dog will take his business there.

A natural enzyme cleaner is one of the best and safest ways to keep dogs marking repeatedly. Take a look at our best enzyme cleaners for dog urine.

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, in some cases, you may need to repeat this process more than once.

I should also mention that it can be quite challenging to clean a heavily soiled carpet using just an enzyme cleaner. In this case, there are better options (which I’ll talk about later.)

3. No Enzyme Cleaner? Try White Vinegar

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.

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In case you decide to use vinegar, here’s how to do it right:

  • 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 stain.
  • 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. Remove Odors With 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.

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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. Shampoo and Wet Vac Your Carpets

Older stains that have managed to soak into the carpet padding and backing may need a deeper cleaning.

For this, you can use or 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. Like I said, simple stuff.

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.

Warning: Avoid using steam cleaners to remove urine odors from your carpet, as the heat will set the stain in the fabric.

You might also want to pick up hair and dander using a rubber broom or a robot vacuum to further reduce pet smells and allergens.

6. Pick up a Few Odor Fighting Candles

Once you did everything you can, it’s time to sit back, relax, and light a pet odor eliminator candle. You read right, an odor eliminator candle!

You can get these in different fragrances (from Apple Cider and Pecan Pie to Pumpkin Spice), and some even include a pet odor neutralizer component to remove unpleasant smells.

However, make sure they’re pet-safe and environmentally friendly, and made with soy wax instead of paraffin. When you’re done with the candle, reuse the glass jar for your dog’s treats.

On top of that, look for a full money-back satisfaction guarantee if for some reason you’re not happy with your purchase.

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What Not to Use to Remove Dog Urine Odor?

Floor Cleaner. Regular 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. Floor cleaners for pets, though, are a different story.

Ammonia (or Ammonia-Based Products.) As I 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. Also, 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 Your Dog Avoid “Accidents”?

You need to keep in mind that canines are territorial animals and that marking in the house is often considered a sign of “dominance”. 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 habit in dogs?”

1. Consider Neutering or Spaying

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 behavior 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 potty train 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.

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If the bathroom schedule is too demanding, you can make use of pee pads, or hire a dog walker to help you out.

3. Look 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 behavior in order to address it or consult with a professional.

What else do you do when your house smells like dog urine? Let us know in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “What to Do When the Whole House Smells Like Dog Urine?”

  1. I had my carpets professionally cleaned and it still smells like urine and ammonia through out the whole house even though my dog peed in only one room.what should I do next ?

    • Your dog may have peed in other places around the house you are not aware of. Using a black light is a good way to look for pet urine traces, even on carpets.

      Also, if you have recently cleaned your carpet, there is a chance that there are still compounds of urine wafting through the air.

      In that case, open some windows to allow fresh air to circulate and use an air purifier to absorb persistent pee smells.

  2. I moved into a house that almost knocked me out with animal urine smell when I did the initial walk through, the landlord claimed she didn’t smell anything, (and she may be used to the smell) but I moved in anyway thinking I could get rid of the pee smell in a month or so vacuuming, shampooing carpets, and mopping (Hardwood) regularly. Been here two months and still no luck, it is as strong if not stronger than when I moved in. She said she had the carpets pet treated, but it really doesn’t seem like she did… help!!!

  3. Hi Tiara, Lir is right! A UV Light will help you to locate urine stains on the carpet and make sure you check along the perimeter walls especially if you’re smelling cat urine odor.

    One reason why pet urine seems to get stronger is because temperature, humidity levels and the amount of moisture that is still in the carpet or pad from cleaning products and urine deposits.

    I personally don’t think you need to go out and buy a black light if the odor level is as bad you have described. You can get a pair of pliers and pinch the carpet in the corner and pull it back to disengage the carpet from the tack-strips.

    Once the carpet is folded back to expose the backing you will see a road map of all the urine stains, spills and other stains caused by liquids.

    You will probably notice even more urine odor imaginable! You will also want to pull back the carpet if its not stuck to the floor or us a scraper to expose the condition of the subfloor for more info you can go to The Pet Odor Removal Service Website at


  4. I have used 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts warm water it really works!! First blot up as much as urine as possible then either pour or spray mixture of water/peroxide solution onto spot til wet not soggy! Leave on for up to 5 min till it quits bubbling. Blot dry and for dark carpeting rinse with water and blot dry again. This will take out the urine smell immediately, However it may lighten dark carpeting best to check a hidden spot to make sure. I do not suggest this for large areas.


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