Why Do Dogs Lick Their Own Pee?

Dogs fill our homes with excitement, snuggles, and love. They’re a man’s best friend, but let’s be honest, sometimes they can be pretty gross. If you’ve ever wondered why a dog would do something like lick their own pee, we have some answers for you.

Dogs Are Curious

If there’s one thing dogs are, it’s curious. Like a baby, a puppy will explore the world by putting things in their mouth that they shouldn’t. Why would a little pee bother them if they’re willing to chew dirty socks?  

This behavior could just be a stage, but it’s best to make sure the behavior doesn’t stick around and become a habit. Stay close to your puppy so that it explores appropriately. While their curious nature can be sweet, it sometimes leads them to some pretty gross behaviors. 

shaggy dog looking through door
A shaggy dog peeks through a door.

A Dog’s Taste Isn’t The Same As Ours

Ever wondered how dogs can stand the taste of kibble or canned food day after day? Well, their taste just isn’t as complex as humans. While their smell is better than ours, their taste buds are not. They likely don’t feel very bothered by the taste of their pee. While we look on in horror, to them it’s just flavored water.

Your Dog Has a Rough History

Sadly, if your dog came from a bad environment, this might be a behavior they developed due to a lack of resources. For example, if they were in a neglectful home, a crowded puppy mill, or a stray roaming the streets, they might not have had easy access to clean water.

Keep a close eye on your dog when you bring it home so you can see if this is a possible habit they already have developed. If it is, try to be with them when they go to the bathroom to reinforce good habits, and give lots of reminders about where their water bowl is. 

are poodles hyper exercising black poodle
Are Poodles hyper? They sure love to run and exercise!

Licking Pee Is an Old Habit

If you don’t help break this habit when your dog is a puppy, they are likely to continue into adulthood. Maybe you didn’t own your dog when it was a puppy, or maybe you never saw them licking their own pee before, but sometimes a habit is developed and then it has to be broken.

If this is the case, try to be with your dog when it goes to the bathroom. A treat is much better than pee, so continue to reward your dog for making the right choice after going potty!

Your Dog May Feel Shame

Oddly enough, sometimes training your dog can lead to a negative effect if they have an accident inside. You can see it on your dog’s face when they feel ashamed. Once a dog knows they shouldn’t pee in the house, they may try to hide an accident from you. 

It’s important to make sure your dog can go out regularly. You could consider adding a doggie door if you have a safe, fenced-in yard. It’s also important to ensure that your dog doesn’t feel too afraid of making a mistake. Training is great, but make sure the punishment for accidents isn’t too severe.

cavapoo in the sun
A Cavapoo shines in the sun. So cute!

A Sign of Dehydration

Another common reason for a dog licking up their pee is dehydration. They spend long days running around and need a lot of water. Like humans, if the only liquid a dog can find is pee, they will do what they need to for survival. 

If you notice your dog licking up their pee, be sure to check and see if they are lethargic or excessively panting. Also head to their water bowl to make sure they have plenty of fresh, clean water. If it’s extra hot outside, you could also consider leaving a water bowl in the yard for them.

Behavior Could Be a UTI Symptom

Developing a urinary tract infection (UTI) is pretty common for dogs. Since a UTI can cause fever-like symptoms, it will increase a dog’s need for liquids. At first glance, it may seem like they are simply feeling dehydrated. However, if they are acting that way even if there is water in their bowl, look closer for other symptoms.

Other key signs are an inability to hold in their pee, blood in their pee, pain, and their pee having a very strong odor. If this is a concern, be sure to consult your veterinarian right away to get your dog the proper treatment. 

bad smelling house
How to deal with an entire house that smells like urine

Potential Symptom of Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is a disease caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland. This is rare for dogs, but it is still something to look out for so that it can be diagnosed as quickly as possible. 

Like a UTI, Cushing’s Syndrome will cause more frequent urination. If they aren’t able to hold in any liquids, they will require more liquids and unfortunately may resort to licking up their pee. 

Your Dog Is Aging

golden yorkie
A truly Golden Yorkie coat. So beautiful!

Finally, as dogs age, their body and mind can sadly start to deteriorate. Growing older can cause many changes in your dog’s normal behavior

They may lose the ability to hold in their pee, and as a result, have more accidents in the house. On the other hand, if they are still aware that peeing in the house is against the rules, they may try to hide the accident from you. Maybe they are extra thirsty and feel like they need the liquids.

If they are experiencing dementia on top of incontinence, they may not fully realize that they are licking up their own pee. 

Whatever the case, elderly dogs can begin to need a lot more care. Try to take them out frequently, even if they aren’t signaling for a potty break -they may not realize they need the extra trips. If they are even licking up their pee outside, try to stick by their side and patiently guide them back indoors quickly after they use the bathroom.