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how to get dog pee smell out of carpet

How to Get Rid Of That Dog Pee Smell in Your Carpet

Your dog has peed on the carpet. You know he has. Even if you can’t smell it right away, as soon as you lean into your 15-minute mat workout on the living floor, you get that faint familiar whiff of pee. And if you can smell it, you better believe your dog can smell it! And what about guests? Can they smell dog pee in your house? Shudder!

Pee is the bane of any pet parents’ existence. You’ve cleaned it, re-cleaned it, and probably cleaned it yet again. And yet the smell is still there. How do you get rid of that dog pee smell in your carpet for good?

First, let’s talk about why your dog pees in the house. It doesn’t do any good to keep cleaning if your dog is just going to return to repeat his crime. 

4 Reasons Your is Dog Peeing On Your Carpet

While every dog’s physiology and psychology are unique, there are some very typical reasons why dogs pee in the house. And once you identify your dog’s reason, or his “tinkle type,” you can work to correct the problem, clean up the pee one last time, and finally be rid of the smell. 

Reason #1: He’s Not Neutered

This is really common if your dog is male. Your dog may not actually be peeing because he has to, but (yikes!) because he wants to! Urine is your dog’s way of marking his turf. And even if your dog is neutered, if he started marking before he was neutered, the behavior may become ingrained and a bit harder to fix. 

You can learn more about how to end urine marking in this post

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Reason #2: He’s Anxious

Pet anxiety is a topic near and dear to my heart. Both my late dogs, Buck and Chilly, had severe anxiety to the point where they would experience the equivalent of a panic attack. Buck had severe separation anxiety to the point where his behavior turned destructive. And Chilly had severe noise anxiety and needed medication to make it through noise events like thunder or fireworks. 

Fortunately, urinating was not a symptom of their anxiety, but it is for many dogs. If your dog is displaying signs of anxiety, his indoor peeing might simply be a response to his mental state. Have you brought home a new family member, fur or human? Or is there construction going on next door? Identifying your dog’s anxiety triggers can not only mean relief for him but a pee-free home for you. 

Reason #3: He Needs to Go Outside More Often

This seems so simple and yet it requires the most effort on our part as parents. Small puppies may need to go outside every hour and older puppies may need to go out every two hours. And every dog, puppy, adult, or senior, should be let out upon waking, after every meal, and before bed. 

It requires diligent effort to remember to let your dog out frequently, especially if he’s not inclined to let you know that he needs “outside.” To get yourself in the habit, set a reminder alarm on your device. Eventually, your dog will start notifying you when he needs to go out. And don’t ignore him when he does! Make sure to let him out immediately and then reward him for doing so. 

And remember, small dogs need much more frequent potty trips than bigger dogs. These “tinky tinklers” often pee, not because of behavioral reasons, but because their bladders are simply smaller than larger breeds. 

Reason #4: Your Dog Has a Medical Condition

Sadly, our dogs don’t always maintain the level of health we would love for them to have. Kidney, bladder, and liver conditions can all cause your dog to urinate even when he doesn’t want to. Senior dogs may also deal with diminished cognition, affecting their ability to go outside rather than on your carpet. 

If you suspect this is the case with your dog, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. 

Now that you’ve addressed the indoor peeing problem at its root, it’s time to finally get that pee smell out of your carpet!

Get the free urine marking ebook today!

How to Get Dog Pee Smell Out of Your Carpet

Now for the good stuff! I’ll let you in on a secret: you can’t properly clean up dog pee with just any household cleaner. The reason gets a little science-y. Dog pee contains several compounds. These include uric acid, bacteria, hormones, and ammonia. As the urine breaks down, ammonia concentration increases and emits a substance called mercaptans. It’s this substance that gives dog pee that skunky, musty smell. 

And since it’s a biological compound, you need an enzyme cleaner that targets that specific compound. Only then can you be rid of that dog pee smell for good. 

So here’s what to do. 

Step #1: Remove as Much Pee As Possible

As soon as possible, place a dry cloth over the spot where your dog peed. Soak up as much pee as you can. I use white terrycloth rags like these so that I don’t transfer any color or dye to my carpet. 

You may need more than one rag, so come prepared to the scene of the crime with plenty of supplies. 

Step #2: Soak the Spot with an Enzyme Cleaner

Photo of Kinderbean Dog and Cat Urine Stain and Odor Eliminator

I have tried what feels like a gazillion enzyme cleaners. There are good and bad points to many of them, which is why I eventually developed my own brand of enzymatic cleaners: Kinderbean.

The Kinderbean No Stress Mess Eraser works on both hard and soft surfaces, has no dyes or artificial fragrances, and only has 5 all natural and non-toxic ingredients.

Enzyme cleaners are so important in cleaning up pet messes because they don’t just hide bad smells or stains – they break them down completely!

The outcome of removing the pee stain and smell relies on the enzyme cleaner, but also upon how well you clean.

Once you’ve soaked up as much pee as you can, you’ll saturate the area with your cleaner (if you’re using a cleaner with dyes or harsh chemicals in it, be sure to spot test first). Really put it to it. And then you’ll take your white rag and agitate the spot for at least 1-2 minutes. 

Step 3: Let it Sit

Next, you’ll let the cleaner do its work for a few hours – overnight if possible. 

In the morning, you can remove the rag, and let it air dry. 

Step 4: Repeat as Needed

Remember, most carpets and even some area rugs, have padding underneath and stains can lurk there for some time before they once again make their way to the top. If you notice the spot appearing again, simply repeat the process. 

What to Do with Your Dog After He Pees On the Carpet

It’s very important to use each pee accident as a means to train your dog not to pee inside. That doesn’t mean scolding them or rubbing their nose in pee. Dogs rarely react well to that and it doesn’t produce lasting results. If you do happen to catch your dog in the act of peeing, you can make a loud noise by clapping to startle them and let them know that behavior is not acceptable.

If your dog’s peeing problem stems from a medical issue like anxiety, old age, or kidney disease, the following is far less applicable. However, for repeat indoor pee offenders, here’s how to curb your dog’s indoor peeing and reduce future incidents.

First, take your dog outside immediately after he pees inside. This reminds him that peeing is only acceptable outdoors. 

I almost never recommend pee pads, as this merely trains your dog it’s ok to pee inside. And even if it’s on a pad, why do you want the pee smell in your house?!

After bringing them outside, and after you’ve thoroughly cleaned the area, place a treat or food dish over the pee spot. If your dog pees in a different spot, do the same thing again. Placing food on the spot creates a new significance to the area — this is not a pee spot.

Be prepared to do this many, many times before your dog realizes that nowhere in the house is his pee place! It may even require him to eat dinner on the guest room floor.

Dog pee is probably one of the most frustrating pet problems, and yet it is solvable! For a more comprehensive guide to all of your pee problems, download my free ebook below. 

Get the free urine marking ebook today!

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

In 2022, she launched to help pet parents keep pet homes clean -- to love more, stress less.

Kristen is married and lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her dog Tulip.

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