Why Do Dogs Lick Their Pee?

Have you noticed that your dog sometimes licks its own pee after urinating?

Are you worried or even a little bit disgusted by this behavior?

Or just curious as to why dogs lick their own pee?

The first thing to say is this behavior might be related to a health condition.

The chances are it’s nothing too serious, so please don’t panic, but if you are worried about your dog, please take them to a vet for a check-up.

Now let’s look at why your dog might be licking and drinking their own urine.

Why Do Dogs Lick Their Own Pee?

There are several reasons why dogs lick their own urine. These can include medical conditions, stress-related behavioral issues, or natural curiosity.

This is a more in-depth list of reasons dogs may lick their pee after urinating:

  1. Feeling shame about peeing in the wrong place.
  2. A urinary tract infection (also known as a UTI).
  3. Dehydration.
  4. Canine pica (consuming non-food items).
  5. Cushing’s syndrome.
  6. Behavioral issues due to a lack of emotional well-being.
  7. Incontinence.
  8. Natural curiosity.

Now let’s look at each of these reasons in more detail and help you figure out which one may be affecting your pet pooch.

1. Feeling Shame About Peeing in the Wrong Place

If you have done an excellent job of potty training your dog, and they now much prefer to pee in the correct place.

When they have an accident or leakages in the wrong place, they may feel shame or guilt and lick up their pee to hide the accident.

At first, this might sound a bit far-fetched, but if you have watched guilty dog videos, you can see that they often try to hide because they have been naughty.

We have to be careful not to anthropomorphize (that means treating animals and, in this case, dogs as humans) this phenomenon, but it is clear that dogs can feel shame about urinating in the wrong place.

Solution – The answer to this is simple. Don’t punish them for urinating in the wrong place. Instead, keep up the potty training.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of opportunities to pee outdoors (or in their dog potty).

And if you are concerned that they might be incontinent, take them to the vet for a check-up.

NOTE – You might also find this post about why a dog would like another dog’s pee interesting to read.

2. A Urinary Tract Infection (aka a UTI)

A Urinary Tract Infection or UTI is a bacterial infection in the dog’s urinary tract.

The urinary tract is the drainage system for removing toxins and fluids from the dog’s body.

It includes the kidneys, bladder, and urethra.

Symptoms of canine UTIs include:

  • Frequent but short instances of urination.
  • Pain or discomfort when urinating.
  • Traces of blood in the urine.
  • Leakage and incontinence.
  • A strong odor to the urine.
  • Dehydration and increased thirst.

So a UTI might be the cause of your dog drinking their own urine for two reasons.

Firstly due to increasing dehydration and secondly due to having more accidents and trying to cover them up, as mentioned in the previous point.

Solution – Take your dog to see a vet as soon as possible.

Note – If you are worried you can’t afford vet bills, look on Google for dog charities that help people on low budgets access free or low-cost veterinary care, or take a look at this really useful site.

3. Dehydration

If your dog is dehydrated, it may drink its pee to satiate its thirst.

If this dehydration is temporary and only because they haven’t had a drink for a while, it’s nothing to worry about. Just give them some water to drink asap.

However, if your dog is frequently dehydrated, even with plenty of water to drink, this could indicate an underlying medical condition.

Solution – If your dog is frequently dehydrated, take them to a veterinary surgeon for a check-up.

4. Canine Pica (Consuming Non-Food Items)

Pica is the technical term for eating or drinking non-food items. Lots of animals do it, including humans and dogs.

Dogs may engage in this behavior for various reasons, such as stress, boredom, or just making a mistake (such as thinking a rubber chew toy is edible).

Solution – If you are worried about your dog eating and drinking non-food items, you should take them to the vet to double-check there is nothing to worry about.

NOTE – Why not check out this post asking why don’t dogs use litter boxes?

5. Cushing’s Disease (aka Hyperadrenocorticism)

Cushing’s Disease, or to give it its technical name, hyperadrenocorticism, is a condition that causes a dog’s adrenal glands to produce too much cortisol.

Two early symptoms of Cushing’s Disease are excessive thirst and increased urination.

Both of these symptoms could cause your dog to start licking their urine.

Solution – If your dog is drinking more water than usual or urinating more frequently, you should take them to the vet for a check-up.

6. Behavioral Issues Due to a Lack of Emotional Well-Being

Sometimes new behavior traits in dogs can be caused as a response to a drop in emotional well-being.

If something has changed in the dog’s life that is upsetting them, they may start acting differently in unforeseen ways, such as licking pee.

Solution – Try to assess and identify any new circumstances that could be stressing or disturbing your dog, then try to improve the dog’s environment to reduce their stress levels.

7. Incontinence

Dogs can become incontinent for various reasons, including old age, an operation, a urinary tract infection, or other medical conditions.

This can lead the dog to have accidents and peeing in the wrong place, leading to them licking up to try and hide it.

Solution – Take your dog for a check-up with a vet if they become incontinent.

You can also buy a waterproof dog bed and ensure they get plenty of opportunities to go outside to pee.

8. Natural Curiosity

Dogs explore the world using their mouths. So your dog may just be licking some of its urine out of curiosity.

Solution: Don’t worry about it, or use the below training method to train them out of this behavior pattern.

What Should You Do if Your Dog Licks Their Own Pee?

The simple answer is to find out what might be causing the issue and then take action to resolve it if you think it needs attention.

If you are concerned that there may be a medical reason for the behavior, especially if your dog is showing other signs of ill health, such as excessive drinking or urination, you should take them to the vet.

How to Train Your Dog Not to Lick Their Pee

The first thing you can do is reinforce their potty training and go back to basics.

Take them outside regularly and give them lots of praise and rewards when they pee or poop.

Use distraction training to break the habit.

As soon as they urinate, pull their attention away from the puddle with play, treats, or something else that interests them.

Final Notes On Why Dogs Drink Their Own Urine

There are a variety of reasons why dogs lick their own pee. Some of these are nothing to worry about, and some may need a vet’s attention.

Always take them for a thorough check-up with your local veterinarian if in doubt.

Finally, before you go, you might enjoy this fascinating video explaining more unusual canine behavior:

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