Dogs love grass—eating it, rolling on it, playing on it, and, unfortunately, often adding their own fertilizer to it. Does your dog’s pee kill your grass?
Many people think that there is an acid in a dog’s urine that causes yellow dog urine spots on their lawn. That is far from the truth. It’s actually the high nitrogen content in your dog’s urine that causes your lawn to burn.
Technically, the waste in your dog’s urine is nitrogen, which is a result of a protein breakdown from normal processes in the body. A dog’s urine can cause an overload of nitrogen onto most types of grass with females creating a concentrated and steady stream of it. So, yes, your dog’s pee can kill your grass due to its high levels of nitrogen, but if you are vigilant, you can counteract or prevent the process and save your yard.
How Does Dog Urine Kill Grass?
Basically, dog urine sports are due to the nitrogen content in the dog’s urine. That said, diluted nitrogen can actually benefit grass and work like a fertilizing agent. However, if the concentration is too strong, it will still burn through and kill the grass causing an ugly yellow patch on your lawn.
You will also find that some dogs’ urine is more harmful to a lawn than other dogs. Urine from female dogs will destroy your lawn fast than urine from a male dog. It all has to do with how they urinate. Since a female dog will squat when she pees, she is directing her urine specifically in one area while male dogs spray their urine over a wide area and cause less damage.
A yellow spot caused by dog pee may also be more concentrated or noticeable depending on certain times as well. When it’s dry outside, dead grass is more noticeable. It can also be more noticeable as male dog ages out of being a puppy or female dogs coming into the season.
How To Prevent Dog Urine Spots
There are a few things you can do to stop yellow patching in your yard from developing and still allow your pet to freely use the yard to relieve himself. Here are a few ideas to prevent dog urine spots in your yard.
Dilute Nitrogen using Water
It’s important to remember that diluted nitrogen can work as a fertilizer for your yard. Once your dog has urinated on a specific area of your yard, follow up with a garden hose or watering can and pour some water over the area. This will help to dilute the nitrogen in his urine and also stop the dry soil and grass from soaking it up and becoming damaged. Dilution is one of the easiest ways to deal with dog urine and your yard as long as you are consistent and diligent in your efforts to water the areas.
Understanding Grass Types and Urine Reactions
The grass type that is in your yard will also determine how well it’s going to tolerate your dog’s urine. If you have a choice to plant or replant your lawn, make sure you choose the type of grass with this in mind. Perennial ryegrass and fescue are known to be the most tolerant to dog urine tolerant and bermudagrass and bluegrass have the least tolerance.
Several species of tall grass that are used in meadow cultivation are pretty urine resistant and salt tolerant including Distichlis, Zoysia, and Paspalum. Tall meadow grass is a good, natural alternative to a regular lawn as is O’Connor’s strawberry clover or white clovers that are both simple to maintain and require less fertilization and water.
Monitor Female Dogs
Another danger to your yard is when your female dog is in season, which is another situation that will leave more yellow patches in your yard. Pay attention to how long your dog stays in heat, and keep a close eye on where she does her business since the hormonal change she is undergoing will make her urine more toxic to grass and plants.
Make sure to dilute the area of the yard after she urinates using freshwater. It can’t hurt to take her out on a leash to prevent her from using the same spot to urinate over and over again which can cause a lot of damage to your yard.
Designate a Toilet Area
Some dog owners find that keeping their dogs moving when they go to do their business can help to reduce damage to their yard. When you stop a dog from urinating in the same area repeatedly, your lawn will be less likely to see significant damage in certain areas.
However, it may be easier to just designate a specific area for your dogs to urinate in. Think about areas in your yard that are out of sight or near the compost heap where you won’t mind having a yellow patch near. Once you decide on a spot, use a collar and leash and lead them to that spot each time they go out so they learn that is the spot where they should urinate. Alternatively, you can set the boundaries of an invisible dog fence to guide them away from problem areas.
You can also create an artificial turf area or a mulched or graveled area in the back or side of your yard. Again, train your dog where to go using praise and positive reinforcement so that they will eventually head to that area automatically to do their business. The area can also be made more visually appealing by placing greenery and ferns around the area.
Grass Saving Supplements
Believe it or not, there are grass-saving supplements you can buy over the counter that can prevent your dog’s urine from damaging your grass. This is not a step you should take without consulting your vet. Make sure you first try all environmental changes before you start to change your dog internally to stop your dog from turning yellow.
So, how do these medications work? They either add salt to your dog’s body or they change his urine’s pH. However, keep in mind that the yellow patches are not a pH problem, but a nitrogen problem. When you use this type of medication to alter the pH in your dog’s urine. And, if you use these products, you risk causing your dog to get bladder stones or urinary crystals, which can actually thrive in an altered pH environment.
The pills that have a high amount of salt can cause your dog to drink a lot more, which will dilute his urine. Although, remember that you want to dilute the grass, not your dog. And, giving your dog a high amount of salt unnecessarily is not a good idea, especially if he has an underlying heart or kidney issue.
Tips to Repair Patches Of Dead Grass in Your Yard
If your yard already has damage from your dog’s urine, there are a few steps you can follow to try and repair it:
- First, rake the yellow grass areas to remove any dead grass
- Apply a mixture of water and limestone to the ground
- Cover the affected area with grass seeds and new topsoil
- Water the grass regularly to ensure that the grass seed is able to take root and grow. If you do fertilize your yard, make sure to use a fertilizer that has reduced nitrogen in its formula.
How do I stop dog urine from killing my grass?
There are several remedies that you can use, but the most effective method to prevent yellow patches from dog urine in your yard is to immediately water the area right after your dog urinates. Just grab a hose and douse the area well to reduce the amount of nitrogen in the grass.
Other suggestions you can try are to create designated areas in your yard for your dog to do his business in that are either out of sight or created out of gravel that won’t be affected by the nitrogen in your dog’s urine. Taking your dog out on a lead will also help direct your dog to the proper spots to urinate on, and you can also try giving your dog supplements that will alter the pH in their urine and save your lawn.
Can baking soda neutralize your dog’s urine on your grass?
If you want a natural way to fix yellow patches in your yard caused by your dog’s urine, take a gallon of water along with a cup of baking soda and pour the dissolved mixture over the affected area. This will neutralize the nitrogen concentration found in your dog’s urine. It will also deodorize the area with the yellow patch, so your dog won’t recognize it and use that spot again.