Having a lush, green lawn is something everyone loves, but sometimes it’s a little harder to achieve when you have a dog. Since our puppers are so cute, it’s especially important to be aware that their pee can kill grass.
But don’t worry! There are some things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of your yard being used as a toilet by dogs.
Don’t worry if your dog has an accident on the lawn—it happens to everyone. Here’s how to deal with it so your grass can recover.
- Dog urine contains a lot of nitrogen. And while appropriate quantities of nitrogen are good for grass, too much nitrogen will cause the grass to turn brown and die.
- There are a number of ways you can help protect your lawn, including hosing it down after your pup tinkles, increasing the amount of water your dog drinks, and encouraging your dog to pee elsewhere, among other things.
- If your dog has created a dead spot on your lawn, you can fix it by removing the damaged grass, applying some limestone, and then re-seeding the area.
- There are a few products we’ll share that have helped some owners protect their grass from urine-caused lawn damage. None are perfect, but they may be worth trying.
Why Does Dog Urine Kill Grass?
Most people are wrong in thinking that urine kills grass because of its low pH level. The truth about dog urine is a little more complicated and can be learned by examining the chemical makeup of it.
The main components of dog urine are urea, which is a byproduct of the metabolism of proteins, and ammonia.
Dogs are carnivorous animals and their urine contains high levels of nitrogen.
Nitrogen is important for plant growth, but too much nitrogen can harm the plant and eventually kill it. The brown patches on your lawn are most likely caused by pet urine.
If you look closely at a brown patch in your lawn, you may notice that the perimeter of the patch is a brighter green than the rest of the patch. The grass absorbed some of the beneficial nitrogen, but not enough to cause plant death.
Another common misconception is that only female dog urine is harmful to grass, which is also not true. This concept is due to female deer squatting to urinate, causing a more concentrated deposit of urine in one area, therefore upping the risk of grass damage.
This means that the way your dog pees is what kills the grass, not whether the dog is male or female. Plus, many males squat to relieve themselves too!
To learn more about the Five Best Grasses for Dogs, read our article!
How Do You Prevent Lawn Damage from Dog Urine?
Luckily, you can reduce or even prevent urine damage to your lawn by following a few steps, including:
- Hose it down : Spray the soiled area down with water as soon as your dog does his business. This helps dilute the nitrogen, which avoids the overload that damages grass. Applying three times as much water as there is urine within 12 hours is a good rule of thumb to follow.
- Hydrate your hound : A properly hydrated pooch will have less concentrated urine, which will cause less lawn damage. Encourage your doggo to drink up with cool, fresh water or a dog water fountain to help keep your lawn and pupper happy and healthy.
- Try wet food : Feeding your pup wet food can help reduce lawn damage because it ups your dog’s water consumption, but this isn’t always a surefire solution. For one, your pooch may just drink less water in turn, eliminating the benefit. Just monitor your dog’s urine to see if it’s working — the clearer his urine is, the more hydrated he is.
- Check your dog’s food : High-protein dog foods increase the nitrogen content in your dog’s urine, increasing the risk of lawn damage. If your pup doesn’t require a high-protein diet, you might want to consider switching. Talk to your vet first and make sure any switch is gradual to avoid stomach issues.
- Skip the snake oil : There are a lot of dog supplements out there claiming to miraculously save your lawn from pee spots, and the truth is, they’re sadly full of stuffing. Some are actually full of salt, too, which can aggravate canine conditions like heart or kidney disease. These products don’t work and can cause a major headache (or heartache) down the road.
- Urine sample test : If you notice ongoing brown spots or a sudden uptick in lawn discoloration, take your dog into the vet for a urine test. Your pup may have an abnormality (like a canine UTI ) that’s throwing off his urine makeup and causing the problem.
- Raise the bar : On your lawn mower, that is. Raise your mower’s level to leave your grass a little longer when cut. This puts less stress on the grass and can reduce the appearance of browning.
- Regular lawn care : A healthy lawn can handle more wear and tear. It’ll also grow back better if and when you do run into hiccups. Remember that extreme temperatures are rough on grass, which is why you’re more likely to see urine issues in the summer when your lawn is broiling in the sun. Keep it watered well, and your lawn will be better equipped to deal with some damage.
- Opt for dog-friendly grass : Stick to dog-friendly grass types that can withstand life with doggos. They’re not as sensitive as some varieties and can handle a little tinkle.
- Set up potty boundaries : Establish a pee-friendly zone in your yard on a surface that isn’t grass, like gravel or soil. Train your dog to pee and poo in that specific spot instead of the lawn. This eliminates the risk to your grass entirely, and if your dog does his poo patrol here too, it can make yard clean up way easier.
- Sacrafice a curb spot. If you don’t have a dog yourself but are eager to prevent neighbors’ dogs from peeing on your grass , you can set up a doggie potty spot that’s closer to the curb to draw attention away from your lush lawn.
Preventing Spotty Grass in Lawns
You’ve just reseeded your lawn to get rid of the dead patches from last year. It’s summertime and you want to keep your lawn looking lush and green, without any dead patches. The best way to stop spotting is to take preventative steps.
The easiest and most effective preventative measure is to spray or pour water on the area. Be prepared to give your dog a drink of water whenever they go outside to use the bathroom. Adding water to dog urine can help dilute the harmful nitrogens and prevent brown spots on the grass.
Walk your Dog
Taking your dog for a walk around the block may be a better option than risking your green lawn. Walking your dog allows you to complete three tasks in a single activity. With a dog walking service, you and your furry friend can both get some much-needed exercise. Your dog can relieve themselves without the worry of damaging your lawn.
Be sure to keep an eye on where your dog is urinating, and make a point to water that area of the lawn thoroughly afterwards. This will help to keep your lawn looking green.
Train your Pup
One way to reduce the amount of dead patches in your lawn is to train your dog to pee in one specific area. Choose a corner in the yard for the family dog to urinate and defecate. If you want your pup to only relieve themselves in one spot, you should praise them whenever they do their business there. Soon, they will learn to only go in that one area.
If you don’t want to have to clean up any messes or deal with wet spots later, create a designated potty area for your dog. If you want to avoid brown spots on your lawn, you can use tall grasses, mulch, or dog rocks, which absorb urine better than regular lawn grass.
5 Myths About Dog Urine Spots
Yellow spots on your lawn may be caused by dog urine, which can affect the grass in many ways. It is important to be able to distinguish between what is true and what is not true when it comes to lawn care and how it affects your pet’s health.
Dog urine spots are a common problem for home lawns because the urine creates a high concentration of nitrogen. There are several myths about what causes and cures spots, according to Ali Harivandi, who used to advise people about environmental horticulture at the University of California Cooperative Extension.
Here are five myths about dog urine on lawns:
Myth 1: Only Female Dogs Cause Spotting in Lawns
The Truth: Female dogs tend to squat when they urinate, leaving a small but dense urine spot on the grass. If you urinate a lot, it can damage the grass by causing it to dry out and turn brown.
Although it is accurate that male dogs will typically roam around and release urine while they are doing so, they have the potential to still create stains. This is because they have a tendency to mark trees and bushes instead of urinating on a level piece of land, such as a lawn. Males of all ages often squat rather than lift their legs to pee, leaving concentrated areas of urine in the same way that females do
Myth 2: Dog Urine Spots Are More Common With Certain Breeds
There is no scientific evidence that suggests that the breed of a dog has any impact on the size or severity of a hot spot. The myth that one breed of dog gets more spots than another probably started when a dog owner noticed a difference between the two breeds, says Harivandi.
Some individual dogs have urine with a higher pH level, nitrogen content, or concentration. Although this may be true for some dog breeds, this is not always the case. This means that no matter what kind of dog it is, the X still marks the spot.
Myth 3: Brown Spots Occur When Dog Urine Is Alkaline
While the pH of urine can have an impact on grass health, it is not the main reason why dog urine is damaging to lawns. The high concentrations of nitrogen and salts in dog urine are what cause the most damage to grass.
Dogs are carnivores, which means their urine is acidic. The typical levels range from 6.0 to 6.5. Turfgrass is negatively affected by conditions that are either too acidic or too alkaline.
The amount of nitrogen a dog can deposit in one small area is too much for the lawn to handle effectively.
There are often urine spots on the lawn that are ringed with lush green grass that grows faster than the surrounding lawn. The outside circle of the sunflower is able to grow due to the small boost of nitrogen it receives, as opposed to burning.
Myth 4: Dog Urine Spots Can Be Prevented With Food Supplements
There are many products available that claim to be able to solve the problem of dog spotting. They typically work to make your dog’s urine less alkaline or make your dog drink more water.
Products that contain high levels of nitrogen and salt are often ineffective and can be harmful to your dog’s health. You should always speak to your vet before adding any kind of supplement to your dog’s diet.
Myth 5: Dog Pee Damage Can Be Cured With Household Products
Baking soda will not neutralize dog urine on grass. You shouldn’t sprinkle baking soda, gypsum, dishwashing detergent, and other random household products in your yard as it won’t get the yellow out and may cause even more trouble.
This is because baking soda and gypsum contain salt, which may exacerbate the problem.
Dishwashing detergent is a surfactant, which means it could help water movement through the soil. Other ingredients in the soap might damage the grass, so it is best not to use it.
The real magic ingredient is water. Watering deeply in the spot where the plant is can make the nitrogen and salts weaker, and they will go into the soil around it.
While it may be frustrating to see spots on your lawn caused by your dog’s urine, there are a few things you can do to help.
It is more helpful to encourage your dog to drink lots of water and urinate in specific places than to use a product.