Your dog’s urine is killing your lawn because of the nitrogen content in their pee. Applying excess amounts of nitrogen to your grass will cause the salt levels in your lawn to increase and eventually kill your lawn. It causes the burning of plant tissue. Oddly enough, the main ingredient in lawn fertilizer is nitrogen. In the correct amounts it is incredibly beneficial for grass growth.
In an article written by petmd, Theresa Smith, director of marketing for Natural Alternative is quoted, “The high concentration of nitrogen, from urea in urine, and associated salts found in dog urine essentially ‘burns’ the grass it directly hits.”
“However, the areas surrounding that spot will be lush and green, thanks to the added nutrients not being so concentrated.”
That being said, over fertilizing is one of the quickest ways to kill your grass, and your dog’s urine is evidence of this.
All dog urine is damaging for grass. Some argue the size of your dog will determine the damage that is caused. However, it has more to do with the frequency of which your dog is urinating in the same spot.
There are many enzyme supplements advertised as balancing the nitrogen in your pets urine, but not all of them are safe to feed your dog. Avoid supplements containing DL Methionine with dogs that have pre-existing liver conditions. It is an amino acid that is used to acidify the urine, which will leave your lawn greener, but has the potential to be harmful for your dog. Petmd suggests an alternative for dogs with a liver or kidney disease is Dog Rocks. These are 100% natural and safe for all household pets. It lowers the amount of nitrates in your dog’s diet, and in turn, lowers the amount of nitrates expelled through his/her urine. As advertised, “When placed in water, Dog Rocks help purify the water by removing the nitrates, ammonia and harmful trace elements like tin and copper giving your dog a cleaner source of water.”
For dogs without a pre-existing condition, an alternative is a supplement called GrassGreen. It is certified by the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council). It reduces nitrogen levels in the urine to address the issue of a lawn damaged by your dog. In addition, this blend can help support healthy digestion in a pet that struggles with vomiting, constipation, stomach aches and diarrhea.
25 lbs or less: Feed 1 snack per day
26 – 75 lbs: Feed 2 snacks per day
75 lbs or more: Feed 3 snacks per day
To be safe, consult your veterinarian to ensure this supplement is safe for your dog if you have any questions or concerns.
A very simple way to help combat the issue of your dog’s urine on the lawn is to spray down the area where they pee. The water will help dilute the urine and therefore reduce the issue of yellow spots in our lawn. However, following your dog around with a hose is not necessarily the most efficient way to deal with this issue. A more tedious solution, that will pay off in the long run, is training your dog to pee in a certain area. Theresa Smith says, “We recommend creating an area out of gravel or mulch in your backyard for your dog to urinate on, and train them to pee there.”
Pea Gravel: the most popular material for dog potty areas is pea gravel. It drains well and doesn’t wash away in the wind. This gravel also looks nice in any landscape design.
Mulch: is affordable and exists already in most lawns. However, not all wood is safe for dogs to ingest and furthermore mulch means odours will linger.
Artificial Turf: is a good solution to a dog potty area because it won’t erode or wash away. Odours will not collect, and it’s easy to wash off after.
NaturVet GrassSaver Gypsum Soil Conditioner is a soil conditioner that helps to make your soil more porous, which in turn allows the salts in your dog’s urine to drain away. Once the salts are reduced from the soil, yellow in your lawn will begin to turn green. David Jones is the owner of Bio Tech Pest Controls, he suggests using this product to help restore a lawn by neutralizing the salts. “To do this, get a small bag of gypsum, add a few tablespoons to the soil and water in gently, then cover the spot to stop the dog from peeing there. After a few days, scratch up the soil and apply some good quality grass seed. Again, keep the dog away. Just repeat the process as necessary.”
Another solution to the brown and yellow spots in your lawn is treatment with garden lime. Lime reduces the acidity of the soil making it more alkaline. Cool season grasses grow in a soil with a pH of between 5.5 to 6.5. If your dog’s urine is highly acidic then it will contribute to lowering the pH of your lawn soil. This is where garden lime may come in handy. The lime is made from ground-up rock, limestone, or dolomite. Garden lime is high in calcium, and if made from dolomite, it will also contain magnesium.
The best way to know if your soil will benefit from garden lime is to get a soil test. The soil test we perform at Yard Dawgs will be able to tell you what your lawns pH is, nitrogen, phosphors, potassium, calcium, sulfur, magnesium, and iron. Additionally, if the results return and you discover your soil is fairly alkaline, you can combat that by using Elemental Sulfur.
Lawns that are overly stressed or dry are more susceptible to damage. It’s important to continually flush the areas your dog pees with water. You ultimately want to dilute the soil as much as possible. Minorly damaged grass can grow back with time. However, with an overly damaged lawn it’s important to assist re growth by overseeding. Your dog should not be on these areas while the grass is freshly sprouting. Your grass needs time to germinate before undergoing any dog or foot traffic.
Ultimately, with a damaged lawn your best approach is to first perform a soil test to analyze what your soil specifically means. Following that you can determine what your lawn needs: garden lime, elemental sulfur, increased fertilization, etcetera. We recommend investing in a dog run area, or alternatively training your dog to pee in a specific area of your yard covered by something other than grass. You won’t see the results you want if your lawn care is competing with your dog urinating on the lawn. It’s a one step forward, two steps back type of situation.
Soil test to find out what your lawn lacks
Spray areas your dog pees with water and ensure your dog drinks lots of water
Replant yellow and brown patchy areas with new grass seed
Consult a veterinarian abut feeding your dog a dietary supplement
Train your dog to pee in one area