We love Spot the Dog, but spots on the lawn are a completely different story.
If you have a yard and a four-legged family member, chances are that your dog has wreaked havoc on your lawn on at least one occasion. Even if your dog isn’t a digger, you may be all-too-familiar with the brown, yellow, or bare patches on your lawn caused by dog urine.
So, why exactly does dog pee ruin grass? Is it possible for dogs and green grass to live together in harmony?
Confirm the Culprit
If your lawn is full of unappealing patches, you may be looking for ways to fix the current spots and prevent future ones. In order to do this, you need to first determine who—or what—is responsible.
For starters, you’ll need to make sure your dog is actually the source of the patchy spots in question. If you have several bare or discolored spots surrounded by lush, green grass, there’s a good chance the damage has been caused by dog urine.
To further confirm your suspicions, try pulling back the turf to see if the roots are firm. If they’re secure, it’s probably safe to diagnose your lawn with urine damage. Alternatively, if it’s easy to pull back large amounts of grass, your lawn might have some other type of disease. In that case, we advise seeking help from a lawn care professional. If you’re still not sure whether your pooch is responsible for your lawn damage, you can have the nutrients and pH of a soil sample tested, and corrected with the appropriate fertilizer.
Why Does Dog Pee Ruin Grass?
While nitrogen is a component of healthy soil, the high nitrogen concentration found in your dog’s pee can “burn” the grass, leaving the infamous bare or discolored spots. Salt and other compounds also contribute to this “burning” effect, as they alter the pH of the soil.
As mentioned above, an easy way to determine whether the damage is caused by dog pee is to see if the bare/discolored spots are surrounded by a “ring” of healthy green grass. This is because the nitrogen and salts are not as concentrated, which helps to fertilize the soil. Basically, when it comes to nitrogen as a fertilizer, moderation is key!
Many dog owners find that urine spots in the lawn tend to be caused by female dogs more frequently than male dogs. This has nothing to do with the urine itself; its chemical composition doesn’t really differ between male and female dogs. Instead, it has to do with how the dogs urinate. Male dogs tend to lift up one leg and pee on trees/objects, or more spread out. Female dogs, on the other hand, tend to squat, with all of the pee accumulating into one area—a future ruined spot.
The damage also has nothing to do with the size of your dog. Instead, it’s about how often the same spot is being used as a bathroom.
Preventing Patchy Pee Spots
Some dog owners have resigned themselves to the idea that they have to choose between a lush lawn and a furry friend. However, this isn’t necessarily the case, as long as you’re willing to put in a bit of extra effort to keep your grass green.
For starters, you can train your dog to use a designated section of the yard as a bathroom. This could be a less visible area where you don’t mind the lawn spots as much, or a section of gravel or mulch (just make sure it’s comfortable for your dog to walk on). Some people use animal deterrents in grassy areas to encourage their dogs to pee elsewhere—this is fine, as long as the deterrent isn’t toxic to dogs.
Training your dog to pee elsewhere can be a tough feat, especially if she has previously been able to treat the entire yard as her bathroom. Fortunately, nearly anything can be taught with enough patience and positive reinforcement.
Another tip is to keep your dog well hydrated. Along with providing plenty of water, you can also opt for wet food, which many dog owners like to combine with kibble. Not only is this good for your canine’s health, but it can also help to dilute the urine, minimizing its harsh effects on the grass. Of course, this could also mean more frequent peeing… but the trade-off may be well worth it.
You can also dilute the urine after the fact by spraying the area with a hose. This may be a bit tedious, but it’s definitely easier on your pup’s paws and digestive system than chemical lawn treatments.
As for fixing up the existing spots, you can rake some grass seed into the patchy areas, preferably with urine-tolerant grass. Since part of the problem is that your dog’s urine is over-fertilizing the grass, it’s also a good idea to fertilize less (or not at all) in grassy areas where your pooch frequently pees.
Another option is to invest in supplements. However, it’s important to talk to your vet before giving your dog anything that would significantly alter the pH of her urine, especially if there is a history of liver, kidney, or bladder issues.
PetHonesty’s Keep Grass Green Chews help to keep your lawn lush and green by reducing the nitrogen levels in your dog’s urine, while also promoting digestive and intestinal health.