Dogs possess some social behaviors that make them great to have around. Unfortunately, they also have some disgusting traits.
Licking pee is right up there with eating poop and puke. So why do they do it?
Generally, dogs lick their pee to avoid punishment. However, they may also do it to rehydrate, taste glucose in the pee, or in case they have a thirst-causing medical condition. Dogs may lick other dogs’ pee in response to pheromones in the pee or to diversify digestive enzymes.
Licking pee is not necessarily bad. It is one of those traits that helped their ancestors survive in the wild.
As a result, you should never stress about it unless it’s excessive.
No one wants to see their dog lick pee. So, it is understandable that you may want to put a stop to it.
In this article, I’ll go into the reasons your dog may lick their own or other dogs’ pee in detail.
Licking pee is quite natural for most canines.
While this behavior is helpful in the wild, it doesn’t fit in a home setting. However, dogs should not get scolded without understanding the underlying causes.
Here are the reasons why your dog might be licking their own pee.
If you’ve ever scolded or punished your dog for having an accident in your home, they may fear your reaction.
Therefore, the dog may lick the pee to “cover up the evidence” to avoid getting punished or scolded.
Even if your dog has an accident in your home, do not punish them. It only teaches them to hide their pee instead of doing it in the right spot.
Instead, take an active approach. Take your dog out at specific times during the day when you know they’re more likely to have an accident (after naps, meals, or playtime, usually).
If you sense the dog is about to have an accident (sniffing the ground, circling around), take them to their potty spot immediately. If they still have an accident after that, calmly take them to their potty spot and clean the mess up without making a big fuss about it.
Dehydration occurs when the body can no longer make up for natural water loss. Unfortunately, this opens the door for a host of health complications.
Failing to provide enough water will force the dog to find alternative water sources - like their or other dogs’ pee.
Some dogs need more water than others. For instance, nursing mothers and senior dogs. When such a dog is thirsty, urine becomes a fair game.
You can spot if your dog is dehydrated if you see them vomiting or panting, having a dry nose, or having a reduced appetite.
The kidney reabsorbs most of the glucose present in the urine. However, trace amounts still manage to sip through.
Therefore, if a dog eats a sugar-heavy diet, its urine will likely contain higher than average glucose (sugar) levels. The technical term for this condition is Glycosuria.
Dogs that depend on a high sugar diet are more likely to suffer from Glycosuria.
Your dog can then pick up on the glucose amounts in the pee. Glucose or sugar is appealing to most dogs, so this may drive your pup to lap up their pee or those from another dog.
There is nothing to worry about when your dog occasionally licks pee. But there may be a problem if the dog is doing it excessively. Check with your vet to find out the exact root cause.
Here are a few possibilities.
For instance, Cushing’s syndrome causes the dog to urinate excessively. This, in turn, makes them very thirsty. As a result, they may drink that same urine to quench their thirst.
Other illnesses like kidney complications and diabetes can have the same effect. But, again, a trip to the vet is the only way to narrow it down and find the right solution.
Your dog licking their pee is one thing, but licking strange pee is where most people draw the line. However, dogs have a more resilient digestive system, so while the prospect is enough to make one squeamish, it’s not as harmful as it looks.
However, it is not a behavior you want to encourage. There is a slight chance they can pick some parasites from the other dogs. Leptospirosis is a rare (but non-life-threatening) bacterial infection that spreads through urine that affects both people and animals.
As for why your dog may lick another dog’s pee:
Dogs lick other dog’s pee for the same reason they lick their own, but the following are two more reasons your dog may find other dogs’ urine more attractive than usual:
Pheromones are chemical communication tools among animals of the same species. These chemical compounds are usually secreted in body fluids such as sweat and urine.
Dogs can pick up on distress, sexual scents, and territory markers through the pheromones in the urine.
Dogs may lick pee as a way to pick up on those messages left by other dogs.
Like humans, dogs have a wide range of gut bacteria that help indigestion. The microbes help dogs digest food the body can’t break down on its own and influence the production of enzymes that help indigestion. But for this to happen, the dog has to maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria.
Eating live sources of food helps maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria. Unfortunately, this is not an option for most domesticated dogs. Their diets are often limited to kibbles and other store-bought dog food.
Licking pee is a way to stock up on some of those good gut bacteria. Dogs rely on their superior sense of smell to decide which pee has what they need.
Given our close bond, it is easy to forget that dogs are still animals with instincts. And one of those instincts seems to be telling them to lick urine.
While this behavior may not be ideal for us, it has specific benefits for the dog. You shouldn’t worry about it unless your dog does it excessively.
In case you suspect a health issue, visit a veterinarian to find out more.