As a diligent pet owner, you know the importance of creating a safe, enriching environment for your dog. You’ve pup-proofed the inside of your home; you’ve removed or replaced houseplants that are dangerous for dogs; you’ve created the perfect dog-friendly backyard for your pooch.
As Fido spends his time doing his business in your yard though, you may notice that your lawn isn’t exactly dog-proof—as evidenced by pesky brown, yellow, or bare patches of once-green grass.
Is your dog wreaking havoc on your lawn? Is it possible for dogs and green grass to coexist? Read on to find out!
Why Does Dog Urine Kill Grass?
As a natural result of digesting protein, dog urine contains naturally high levels of nitrogen. While nitrogen can be useful for fertilizing lawns, too much nitrogen can lead to over-fertilization. When your pup pees on your lawn, he’s essentially over-fertilizing patches of grass, causing them to burn.
So, while your lawn may not be looking its healthiest right now, be assured that grass-burning urine is typically a sign of a healthy, normal dog!
Some dog urine can have higher levels of nitrogen than others, mainly due to two factors:
The type of protein in their diet—more processed proteins tend to lead to more lawn damage.
- The amount of water they drink—the more hydrated the dog, the more diluted the pee (and the less damage done to the lawn).
Many pet owners believe that female dog urine does more damage to lawns than male dog urine. While this may be true, it has nothing to do with genetic makeup. Instead, it’s related to the way the dog pees!
Male dogs tend to lift one leg, spraying their urine in various spots as they go. Females, on the other hand, squat as they pee, meaning that all of that urine collects in one spot making the damage much more noticeable.
Is Your Dog’s Pee Ruining Your Lawn?
Before you address your unappealing lawn, you want to be sure exactly what—or who—is responsible for the damage.
If your grass is yellowing or turning brown, that means it’s dying. Before you blame Fido, though, keep in mind that this could be due to a number of factors, such as lawn fungus or poor-quality soil.
If your dog’s urine is in fact damaging your lawn, you’ll likely notice bare or discolored patches surrounded by rings of lush, green grass.
Green spots are a sign that your grass and soil were lacking sufficient nitrogen before, and your dog’s pee did it a favor by acting as a fertilizer.
Brown spots are a sign that your grass is getting too much nitrogen; your dog’s pee is over-fertilizing your lawn and burning your grass.
If you tug on the grass, it won’t pull up easily—this is because dog urine doesn’t affect root strength like other grass or soil problems would.
7 Tips for Keeping Your Grass Green
Fortunately, there are a few different steps you can take to keep your dog’s pee from ruining your lawn. After all, your yard makes a much better dog bathroom than your living room would!
Some of our favorite tips for maintaining a healthy lawn include:
1. Fertilize Accordingly.If the nitrogen in your dog’s urine is over-fertilizing your lawn, you certainly don’t need to supplement those spots with extra fertilizer. Fertilize less—or not at all—in areas where your dog typically pees.
2. Switch to Urine-Resistant Grass.Some grass blends are more durable than others, so you may find it helpful to switch the grass you’re using entirely. For example, try switching to synthetic turf, or non-toxic grass alternatives including Irish moss or creeping thyme.
3. Designate a Dog Bathroom Area.Train your dog to use certain sections of your yard as his bathroom, rather than scattering his business throughout the lawn. This could be a grassy area with low visibility, or a section of the yard with mulch, gravel, or paw-friendly stones.
4. Spray the Pee Spots.Dilute those pee-soaked spots before they seep into your grass by spraying them down with a hose. Ideally, though, this shouldn’t be your primary form of lawn protection… unless you’re ready to hose down the area each and every time Fido relieves himself.
5. Keep Your Dog Hydrated.Every dog should be sufficiently hydrated, whether your lawn is at stake or not. That said, a dog that drinks plenty of water is less likely to damage your lawn, as water helps to dilute his nitrogen-rich urine.
6. Change Your Dog’s Diet.If your dog only eats kibble, you may want to consider topping off his bowl with some wet food to help him stay hydrated.
Additionally, a diet rich in probiotics and high-quality protein sources can help to offset the nitrogen amounts in your dog’s urine. Because processed proteins tend to increase the likelihood of urine burn, opt for all-natural, fresh protein sources. For example, some pet owners prefer to feed their dogs a raw diet.
Before you make any changes to your dog’s diet, though, it’s important that you consult with your vet.
7. Give Your Dog Dietary Supplements.
In addition to changing your dog’s diet and keeping him well-hydrated, you may want to consider investing in some supplements.
Our recommendation, of course, is Pet Honesty’s GrassGreen+ chews. These tasty, lawn-saving chews are made of a blend of natural ingredients including DL-Methionine to reduce the amount of nitrogen in your dog’s urine—and the number of urine burns on your lawn.
These chews don’t just keep your lawn healthy. They also provide digestive support, encouraging regular and healthy bowel movements for a healthy pup and a healthy lawn.