Ever find yourself trying to sniff out a funky pup odor you can’t see?
Ah, the joys of #dogparentlife.
What if I told you there’s no need to wander around on all fours practicing your best bloodhound impression?
Using a UV dog urine detector is a sure-fire way to find those stinkies fast. From urine to saliva, UV lights highlight the biological breadcrumbs our dogs leave behind, allowing us to clean them up and keep our homes fresh.
Below, we’ll explain how UV dog urine detectors work and identify a few of our favorites.
Best UV Light Dog Urine Detectors: Quick Picks
- #1 Vansky UV Flashlight [Best Overall UV Light Urine Detector]: Effective, affordable, and very well-rated by those who’ve used it, this is easily the best urine-detecting light for the average dog owner.
- #2 LE’s Black Light Flashlight [Most Affordable UV Light Urine Detector]: Most urine-detecting lights are pretty affordable, but this is the best option for owners who want to save as much money as possible.
- #3 TATTU UV Rechargeable Flashlight [Best Rechargeable UV Light Urine Detector]: An effective UV light for detecting dog urine, this model allows you to skip the disposable batteries and recharge it via a USB cable.
How Do UV Light Urine Detectors Work?
Ultraviolet (UV) lights work by emitting a purple-hued light that reacts to substances in different ways, depending on their chemical makeup.
When the light shines over certain materials in a dark setting, the materials absorb and reflect the light at different wavelengths, giving them a glowing appearance. What you see glowing in the material are phosphors.
Essentially, this means they allow you to see things (like urine stains) that aren’t easy to see when lit by wavelengths in the visible spectrum.
Sometimes called black lights, UV lights aren’t only helpful for finding urine — they can help you spot all sorts of hidden messes, including most bodily fluids. This means that they’re pretty nifty to have on hand for a variety of purposes.
A UV light can also aid in spotting counterfeit bills, invisible ink, or laundry detergent build-up and residue. If you’re in the southwest, they’re great for spotting any scorpions that may have slipped indoors, saving you and your pooch from hard-to-spot ouchies. And you’ve undoubtedly seen them used in crime shows, since they’re standard tools for forensic scientists.
But as a pup parent, you an use UV lights to find urine, as well as drool, semen, and blood your dog may leave in his wake.
However, while most bodily fluids will glow, it’s important to note that blood will appear black unless sprayed with luminol. But hopefully, you won’t have to worry about finding blood your dog leaves behind.
Why Use a UV Urine Detector?
There are two main reasons to keep a UV urine detector handy as a pet owner:
- Finding the source of hidden odors. Is there a funky aroma around the house you just can’t place? Maybe you smell dog urine odor in your house, but simply can’t find it. Doing a walkthrough with a UV light helps you locate those messes, whether it’s something you missed or maybe leftover remnants a cleaner didn’t power through.
- Preventing future marking. Finding the problem and cleaning it with an enzymatic or oxidizing dog urine carpet cleaner helps avoid issues with repeat urination, as dogs like to potty where they’ve previously piddled. If you’re in a new home, your dog may also like to mark over where another dog has sprinkled in the past.
Given these uses, dog owners with peeing puppies or seniors prone to incontinence and accidents would significantly benefit from keeping a UV light around. They’re also valuable for those of us with multi-species houses, such as cat owners.
Finding urine fast is important in eliminating and preventing lingering odors, but seeing them illuminated can also help pinpoint the culprit (e.g. cats like to mark vertical surfaces in a spraying fashion versus dogs who may sprinkle on corners.)
UV Dog Urine Detectors: Buying Considerations
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when browsing UV lights for dog urine detection. There are a ton of models on the market, and they all vary in numerous ways.
When searching for a UV urine detector light, look at the following features:
- Light Output: The longer the wavelength (expressed in nanometers), the easier it is to spot hidden urine and other messes. Most UV urine detectors fall in the 300-nanometer range. Lights that produce wavelengths shorter than this may make it hard to find problem areas.
- Ergonomics: You want a device that will fit comfortably in your hand. Ideally, you’d like a textured grip for a firm hold during use. Opting for a device that’s too large to hold with one hand is uncomfortable and can make usage cumbersome.
- Portability: Many UV light urine detectors can be easily toted around in your pocket, but others are a bit bulkier, like traditional flashlights. If you’re planning on using your light on the go, a more compact design may be better for you.
- Environment: Are you planning on using the device at home, or are you looking to use it in your car? Devices give off differing beam sizes, with large ones more suitable for use around the house while smaller, more concentrated ones are better suited for use in smaller environments.
- Price: Most UV light dog urine detectors range between $15 and $30, but there are more expensive devices out there intended for commercial or heavy-duty use. You don’t want to overpay, but at the same time, you don’t want to buy something super cheap that’ll require replacement after a few uses.
- Power source: Is the device battery-powered or rechargeable? Earth-conscious pup parents will want rechargeable models, as should owners who plan to use the device frequently. Replacing batteries isn’t only a pain, but it can get pricey over time.
Best UV Light Dog Urine Detectors
Now that you know what’s what in UV light urine detectors, you can check out the assortment we’ve compiled, including one for every pup parent, whether you’re looking for an affordable fix or an easy-to-carry tool.
1. Vansky UV Flashlight
About: The Vansky UV Flashlight features 51 UV LEDs with a lifespan of 15 years(!), giving you longevity in your search for all things stinky. Compact enough to carry about but not so small you’ll easily misplace it, this UV light is the perfect pick for home use or on the go.
- Emits a 390 to 395 nm wavelength
- Textured handle and lanyard for easy handling
- Powered by 3 AAA batteries
- Battery life of 4 to 6 hours
- Affordably priced
- Excellent for finding dog slobber
- Tough construction (I own this and have personally dropped it down the stairs. Not recommended you try, but it held up!)
- Large coverage area
- Could be more powerful. Sometimes you need to be super close to the stain to see it.
- Not recommended for cat urine detection
2. LE Black Light Flashlight
About: LE’s Black Light Flashlight is a no-fuss fix for spotting Spot’s messes. Textured for easy gripping, this tiny device emits a focused ray of UV light for pinpointing problems, and best of all, it’s super affordable!
- 395 nm wavelength
- Pocket-sized for portability and on-the-go use
- Powered by 3 AAA batteries
- Durable, aluminum exterior
- Small, lightweight, and compact
- Relatively rugged (it’s both water- and impact-proof)
- Very affordable
- Doesn’t produce as powerful or wide of a light beam as other options
- Longevity may be an issue
3. TATTU UV Rechargeable Flashlight
About: The TATTU UV Rechargeable Flashlight let’s you search for urine stains without having to search all your kitchen drawers for batteries. Instead, you can just use the included UVB cable to recharge it as needed.
- Rechargeable via USB
- Emits 395 nm wavelength UV light
- Gripped finish and lanyard for easy handling
- 100,000-hour light lifespan
- Affordably priced
- Rechargeable, making it more convenient and earth-friendly than other picks on our list
- Small, portable size
- Could be brighter for easier use around the home
- Some owners found the on/off switch to be a bit too sensitive
4. INFRAY Pen UV Flashlight
About: INFRAY Pen UV Flashlight is small but powerful, offering seven hours of use on just two AAA batteries. Water-resistant and drop-rated for up to 5 feet in height, it’s a hardy little tool for rooting out those hard-to-find stains.
- Pen-sized design easily fits in your pocket or handbag
- Pocket clip for stowing between uses
- Non-slip grip for secure handling
- Offers 395 nm wavelength
- Durable, chip-proof finish
- Backed by an 18-month warranty
- Small light beam can make spotting problem areas trickier than other options
- Not as versatile as other UV lights (it’s not recommended for cat urine, for instance)
5. Alonefire UV Flashlight
About: The Alonefire UV Flashlight brings messes out of hiding with its wide beam that spans up to 50 feet. Featuring a textured handle and tough finish, it’s the perfect device for owners who may need to use the light repeatedly (looking at you small breed and puppy owners).
- 365 nm wavelength
- Tough aluminum alloy shell
- 100,000-hour lamp life
- Powered by four rechargeable batteries
- Durable finish can stand up to heavy use
- Long battery of life of 4 to 5 hours between charges
- Wide coverage area helps find problem areas fast
- Relatively large grip can be an issue for those of us with smaller hands
Owning a UV light for dog urine detection is nothing to be ashamed of. Accidents go hand-in-hand with pup parenthood. By selecting the right tool, you’ll set you and your dog up for success.
Have you used a UV light to find dog urine before? Have you used one on our list? Another? Let us know in the comments.