Dog Urine Damage By Sheri Wallace |Published October 28, 2019
Three things dog owners can't avoid: death, taxes, and urine spots on the lawn. It’s true whether you have a big pooch who spends most of his time in the yard or a house pup that goes out only when nature calls. Left untreated, those wee-wee spots can take a toll on your lawn, but you can minimize the damage.
Dog pee is the subject of misconceptions, myths, and false information. The bottom line is that urine stains are the result of the high nitrogen content in dog pee, which shows up as brown spots in the grass. You can't blame all brown patches on the dog. If you have a lot of patches, it’s a good idea to check your grass for diseases.
If urine is the culprit, you can take steps to get rid of the stains.
First, keep your lawn watered. Water will dilute the nitrogen content, so the urine doesn't burn the grass. If you water the yard to a depth of a couple of inches per week through rain and irrigation, stains are less likely to appear.
Many dogs have favorite spots to do their business, so give those areas a little extra water with the garden hose. If you catch Fido in the act, have a sprinkler can with water handy, so you can act immediately.
The quicker you can dilute the urine, the more successful you’ll be. Nitrogen is an ingredient in most lawn fertilizers, so if your buddy has a favorite pee spot, reduce the amount of fertilizer you apply there — or skip it altogether.
Have plenty of fresh water available for your pet. The more water a dog drinks, the more diluted his urine content will be, which makes it less likely to stain the lawn. Dogs, indoors or out, should drink plenty of water anyway to avoid health problems.
In severe cases where urine has killed grass, you’ll have to re-plant. Fescue and ryegrass are more tolerant of urine than Bermuda and Kentucky bluegrass.
You’ll find yard applications such as See Spot Run and Naturvet Grass Saver at pet stores and online. Many of these products contain gypsum or microbes, which, manufacturers say, can reduce damage and lead to better grass growth.
You will also find pills and diet supplements that claim to neutralize the harmful components of urine, but these are controversial. Skeptics say they may threaten your dog’s health, and they really do little to solve the problem.
The Colorado State University Extension Service warns, “Products advertised to ‘naturally’ reduce urine alkalinity … may cause urinary system problems and can affect calcium deposition in growing bones of younger dogs.” You may be wasting your money and hurting your dog in the process.
One solution is to create a doggie bathroom outdoors. Pick an inconspicuous spot and fill it with gravel or non-toxic mulch and then train Bowser to go there. It may take time for him to get the idea, but even older dogs can learn new tricks. And it beats following him around with a garden hose or watering can!
Sheri Wallace, author of How to Remove Dog Urine Damage from Your Lawn is a dog trainer who also owns a doggie bath and grooming business. When she’s not working with dogs, you’ll find her in her backyard gardening alongside her Siberian husky and pug.