Strong Urine in Dogs

By Lisa McQuerrey

Strong-smelling urine in dogs can be a sign of a minor or serious health problem. Untreated urinary issues can lead to life-threatening maladies, so if you notice foul-smelling urine, consult your vet.

Urinary Tract Infection

Dogs most likely to experience urinary tract infections are diabetic females over the age of 7, though infection can strike dogs of either gender at any age. One sign of a problem with urinary function is strong or bad-smelling urine. This may be accompanied by straining or pain during urination, cloudy or blood-tainted urine, fever, a change in appetite and energy levels and an increased need to urinate. A vet can conduct tests to determine the cause of the infection and its severity. Untreated urinary tract problems can lead to painful kidney and bladder infections or be a sign of endocrine system malfunction. Many uncomplicated UTIs can be treated successfully with antibiotics.

Pyelonephritis of the Kidneys

Pyelonephritis, a bacterial infection of the renal pelvis, located in the ureter of a dog’s kidney, can present with strong-smelling urine. The infection typically develops as a result of an untreated UTI that spreads to the kidneys, from kidney stones or due to blockage that impairs blood or urine flow. Your dog also may experience frequent or painful urination, discolored urine, fever and increased thirst. Immediate vet treatment is required, and your dog’s health care provider will typically take a blood and urine sample to make an accurate diagnosis.

Diabetes Mellitus

Canine diabetes can result in strong-smelling or sticky urine and can lead to urinary tract infections that produce a bad smell. Diabetes causes high blood and urine sugars, which makes a dog consume more fluids and urinate more frequently than normal. Diabetes in dogs can often be managed through early diagnosis and treatment. Left unattended, dogs with diabetes can develop enlarged livers and neurological problems and may be more likely to develop infections. They also run the risk of developing a condition known as diabetic ketoacidosis, or a buildup of acid in the blood, which requires immediate medical intervention.

Other Causes

Strong-smelling urine should be addressed by your vet as soon as you notice it. Common diagnostic tools include urinalysis, blood tests, kidney or bladder ultrasound, or biopsy. Prior to your vet visit, make a list of all unusual symptoms your dog is experiencing, particularly as they relate to drinking, urinating, movement, pain -- especially with elimination -- behavior and temperature. If your dog is eating a new food or taking any medication, make note of this as well. This will help the vet narrow down potential problems and make an accurate diagnosis.