LARGER IMAGE - of this source of Cat dander and dog dander from pets living indoors can be a problem for people with allergies and asthma. How to Find the Source of Pet & Other Animal or Human Odors, & Smells in Buildings

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

How to find & cure the source of animal odors:

Pet / animal urine or other odor diagnosis & removal in buildings starts with finding all of the smell sources & causes. This article series provides suggestions for finding and removing animal or human odor removal from building interiors, building exterior surfaces, from soils around buildings or from urine-odor smelly clothing, bedding, and other soft goods.

We discuss how to find where animals are getting into your building and how to keep them out, including bats, birds, rats, mice, and squirrels and even raccoons. We explain the use of a black light or UV light to find the location of human, pet, or other animal urine and we describe the use of UV lights in forensic investigations.

This article series includes lists of products & formulas for odor cleaning or smell removing chemicals, washes, products.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Pet Odor Guide: How to Find, Test, & Remove Pet Odors, Pet Odor Detection, Cat, Urine, Dog Urine, Bat, Bird, or other Animal or Human Smells in Buildings

Stuffed animals were hiding building damage (C) Daniel FriedmanThis article series begins here with help on finding the source of urine or animal smells at or in buildings, we give advice concerning the detection and removal of animal smells & odors from dogs, cats, or other pets.

[Click to enlarge any image]

This article series focuses on removing pet or other animal odors from buildings due to pet urine, pet feces, wild animal urine, or even human urine on and around buildings or on clothing and other soft materials.

Cat allergen and odor source identification, testing, removal, are also discussed beginning at Cat Dander: how to inspect and test a building for past or current presence of cats, cat hair, cat dander, and cat allergens".

Or see Pet Allergens.

Animal smells in or around buildings, both indoors and outside, may be due to current or prior pets in a building, pet urine or fecal waste, cat boxes, animal hair, dog dander, cat dander (are allergens and are indicators of the level of prior pet activity), dust tracked in by dogs.

The little stuffed animals in this photo include a skunk - both were innocent of any pet-crimes, but they had been placed at either side of a basement door jamb to cover stains from basement water entry. Prior flooding in buildings or prior sewer backups can lead to hidden bacterial or mold reservoirs that are both an odor source and a potential health hazard.

Suggestions for Finding the Source of & Removing Animal Odors Indoors

Start with advice on how to find the source of pet or other animal odors, including urine odors

Cat door (C) Daniel Friedman
Dog scratches as an indicator of pet presence (C) Daniel Friedman Bird entry point into a roof overhang(C) Daniel Friedman Bird dropping stains on an attic beam  (C) Daniel Friedman
Dog urine stains indoors (C) Daniel Friedman
Exploring below stained smelly carpeting (C) Daniel Friedman Dead mouse odor (C) Daniel Friedman

Advice for Keeping Mice and Rats and Squirrels out of Your Home

Pest control experts recommend several simple steps that will discourage mice and squirrels from moving into your building as they are inclined to do particularly at the beginning of cold weather:

If your building odor complaint source is found to be outdoors, see URINE ODOR REMOVAL at BUILDING EXTERIOR.

This website provides articles on to diagnose, test, identify, and cure or remove a wide range of obnoxious or even toxic odors in buildings and in building water supply.

We discuss odors from a variety of sources including animals including pets, dogs, cats, or unwanted animals or dead animals, formaldehyde odors in buildings from building products or furnishings, plumbing drains, plastic or vinyl odors from building products, flue gases, oil tanks or oil spills, pesticides, septic odors, sewer gases, and even abandoned chemicals at properties.

At URINE ODOR REMOVAL at BUILDING EXTERIOR we discuss the problem of odors outdoors on and around buildings and we list various urine odor products, chemicals, treatments.

At ANIMAL or URINE ODOR REMOVAL we describe how to remove smells & odors.

Reader Question: Animal or pet feces or urine odors: tracking down a rancid sweet wet paint odor in one room - suspected pet odors from urine or feces

What could be the source of an odor that smells like rancid, sweet, wet paint? The smell is contained to one room of our house, it builds up when doors and windows are closed, is all the time and we can't pinpoint exactly where in the room. We moved in 4 months ago, and it smelled.

We thought it was wet paint (previous owners painted) even after weeks and weeks and no other room (that was painted) smelled. We wound up gutting the walls down to the studs, replaced insulation, drywalled, and painted. It smelled like fresh wet paint, and when that dried we were back to the same offensive odor. We've tested for mold with an IH, tests were negative. Please help!!!

We are desperate, it's my youngest daughters room and she has been sleeping in her sister's room until we can figure this out! Thank you. Wendy K. 11/6/11

Reader comment:

Unbelievable Wendy but we seem to have the same thing going on in one small area of our house, a slightly sweet paint, disinfectant or perfume smell. We aren't sure which.

(We moved in 12 months ago and have looked behind the walls in the soffits and in the adjacent crawlspace and found nothing.) We have been ventilating the entire time but the smell is still there when we close the room up today. I am going to do the patch test next week. - Chris 11/18/11

Reader follow-up:

Hey Chris, did the patch test help you identify anything yet? Did the previous owner have pets? Ours had a big dog and after all our attempts, we are down to the floor.

We are thinking (hoping) it just might be an abundance of dog urine that soaked through the wood floor. My husband found a product at PETCO that addresses this, something specific for dog urine removal. It is kind of perfume itself but we doused the floor twice and are crossing our fingers. Good luck! - Wendy 11/28/11

We had a dog defecating and peeing and leaving it on cement in garage and tile in basement entry, so it's not discovering the cause but curing it.

One door frame and the door (as its' a set) was affected and will need to be replaced- but can the floors be cured of the odor? A company that was supposed to take away that smell came and failed to do so. I heard that putting pet product liquids for pet waste is another way to work on it. What would you recommend? - Elaine 3/8/12

Reply: pet odors in buildings and success with removing them: clean & seal surfaces or remove materials

Chris & Wendy:

Our experience is that dog urine can soak deeply into wood flooring, especially if the floor was covered by carpeting and the urine thus remained for a long time.

Odors from dog feces are usually easier to cure if the feces were on a hard finished surface, but feces dropped on concrete (a garage floor) or tile (grout joints) can leave oils and fluids that soak into those surfaces.

While commercial deodorizers can reduce the complaint, and some enzymes can actually break down organic molecules that are part of an odor problem, it's often the case that sanding, re-finishing, sealing, or even flooring or drywall and trim replacement are needed.


Where a surface is to be left in place, such as a garage floor, try using a commercial concrete or tile cleaner followed by thorough rinsing (vacuum up the rinse water if it's in a basement or garage that can't be hosed to outdoors. Then when the surface has thoroughly dried, if odors remain you may need to try coating the floor with a sealant. Some of the fungicidal sealants used in mold remediation or odor-controlling sealants used in response to fire damage in buildings can cure the remaining problem.

Question: dead fish (dead animal? odors in the kitchen - how to locate a dead animal in walls or ceilings

There is an odor in my kitchen that is likely a dead small something. I have looked behind refrigerator and stove, and removed anything that can be looked under. But there are floors under cabinets that would require carpentry to remove the shelf....want to know that that is the spot before I begin. How can I identify the location of the odor? Is there any gadget for that? - Jane

Reply: try a borescope before destroying cabinets or walls

Borescope for inspecting building cavities © D Friedman at I'm not sure it'll work in this case, Jane, but try our
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors (article link at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article )
to see if that helps pin down the most smelly area.

I'd see if the odor can be traced to a drain line.

Also, look for a dead mouse or other dead animal under an appliance (fridge, dishwasher), or under a cabinet, or even in the walls;

Finally, you may find a local home inspector who has a flexible borescope that can peer into tight areas such as under cabinets either by snaking the scope through an existing gap or opening or by drilling a small unobtrusive hole such as i the top of kick plates below your cabinets or in walls where odors seem strongest. An example of using a borescope is provided at HIDDEN MOLD, HOW TO FIND.

Details about sealants for these applications are at FUNGICIDAL SPRAY & SEALANT USE GUIDE.

Reader Question: Mold or dead animal smells: smell in the master bedroom closet lingers even after some demolition; attic mold is supposedly "dormant"

I hope you can help me . We have a 7 year old home and we have a smell in the master bedroom and master closet. Both are on the same wall (south)we have a real bad odor that we have never encountered before.

We tore out the carpet with no good results. We have mold in the attic above attached garage but not close to where the smell is. We were told this is dormant? dead? and not the cause of our odor problem.

I have put the smell patch on three walls and also put plastic insulation on the windows -

Reply: dead mold may not be; other places to look for mold as an odor source


If the odor is a moldy musty smell, and considering that you found attic mold in the building, I'd look for a source of leaks or trapped moisture. Perhaps cut some small exploratory 2" x 4" openings in the drywall at the most-suspect areas to permit a visual inspection. Same if it's a dead animal.

I would not assume that "dead mold" is really "dead" - dormant mold, meaning mold growth on a surface that is not producing active growth, can become active seasonally with variations in humidity, temperature, light, and other conditions, and can outgas MVOCs at times - depending on the genera, species, and surface on which the mold is growing. Also the fact that someone saw a significant mold reservoir in one building location should make us alert for the possibility of other undiscovered leaks and reservoirs to be found.

Take a look at MOLD / ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT, HIRE ? to see if it seems justified to bring in an expert.

Also see MOLD in BUILDINGS Procedure: what mold is often found where in buildings - simple technical presentation

Reader Question: problem with raccoons in the attic

We have NO ODOR. However there have been raccoons in the attic & I want to get someone to test the air quality for allergens related to the raccoons having lived in the house/attic.

My father has a lung disorder & because there are NO ODORS I am wanting to dispel the notion that his lung problems are related to this. I am DEFINitely also in the process of having the raccoon problem alleviated. THANks - Donna 7/12/12


Donna I am skeptical that "air testing" or "air quality testing" is going to provide any definitive data on the presence or absence of an air quality issue due to raccoons whatsoever, nor am I confident that allergens you'd find would be related to raccoons in the attic. You might test the occupied space, including settled dust, for high levels of insect or animal allergens, including dust mites, animal dander, insect fragments. "Air tests" alone can give results that are "wrong" by several orders of magnitude when looking for particles.

When raccoons invaded our house through an open soffit we found them returning night after night to open a box of shiny Christmas ornaments that they considered great fun to bat around the attic floor. The remedy involved these steps:

  1. Wait until the raccoons have left for the day - don't confront a raccoon cornered in your building or you're asking for a fight and maybe a bite
  2. Close off their entry opening
  3. Clean up the mess and if necessary use a sanitizer.

If you're not up to these steps call a local pest control or animal control professional.


Continue reading at ANIMAL or URINE ODOR REMOVAL or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see these

Animal Odor & Allergens Articles

Suggested citation for this web page

URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


Or use the SEARCH BOX found below to Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman