If you have a dog and a yard, there’s an excellent chance that like mine, your lawn has damage from their toilet habits. It’s a common problem but often misunderstood. The good news is that it is possible to have a dog and a naturally green lawn that isn’t riddled with brown and yellow patches. But the key to stopping your dog’s pee from destroying your lawn is understanding why dog urine kills grass in the first place. In this article I’ll share five suggestions for how to stop dog urine killing grass naturally, and tell you which one has worked for me.
- Why does dog urine kill grass?
- Does gender affect dog urine damage?
- What about breed?
- Is there a supplement to stop it happening?
- How to stop dog urine killing grass naturally
Why Does Dog Urine Kill Grass?
Dog urine contains a form of nitrogen called urea. Urea is a waste product that comes from digesting proteins. Since dogs eat a high-protein diet, they have a lot of urea – and therefore a lot of nitrogen – in their pee. This is perfectly normal for dogs and is nothing to worry about. But your dog eating a high-protein diet and peeing in the same spot every day is what’s killing your grass.
A certain amount of nitrogen helps grass grow. That’s why it’s the main ingredient in lawn fertilizer. But too much nitrogen overwhelms grass, and can leave it looking ‘scorched’. In other words, with big yellow or brown patches of dead grass. The problem is likely to be made worse if your dog pees on a lawn which has already been treated with fertilizer as well.
Does Gender Affect Dog Urine Damage?
It’s a myth that only female dogs cause damage to a lawn. Male and female dogs’ urine has the same chemical composition. The misconception is due to the fact that females squat in one spot to relieve themselves, while male dogs will pee in small amounts all over, and frequently target vertical surfaces. It’s the concentration of urine in one specific area that kills grass. However, any dog that squats to pee, including elderly male dogs and young pups, can cause just as much damage to the lawn. Even middle-aged male dogs quite often squat in their own yard, because they’re less concerned about advertising their presence in a private space that other dogs don’t visit.
Does Dog Breed Affect Dog Urine Damage?
Likewise, dog breed has no bearing on urine damage to your grass. How badly a dog’s urine affects your lawn comes down to the individual animal. However, larger breeds in general may cause more issues simply because they produce more urine.
Is There a Supplement that will Stop my Dog’s Urine from Killing Grass?
There’s a false belief that a dog’s urine damages grass because of its high alkaline content. Supplements that claim to balance the pH and reduce alkalinity should not be given to your dog. First of all, the problem is the high concentration of nitrogen, not a lack of acidity, that’s killing your lawn. But more concerning is that supplements containing methionine to acidify the urine could lead to urinary tract problems, harm dogs with liver and kidney disease, and impact calcium deposits in young dogs. You should always check with your vet before giving any supplement to your dog.
How to Stop Dog Urine Killing Grass Naturally
Luckily, there are several ways to manage away lawn damage safely and naturally:
- Train them to pee in a designated area
- Change their diet
- Make sure they’re drinking enough
- Water your lawn
- Mow less frequently
Train Your Dog to Urinate in a Designated Area
Choose a spot in your yard where there’s gravel, rocks, mulch, artificial grass, or one that’s hidden from view, then train your dog to only urinate in this spot. Lead the dog to the area on a leash and reward him when he goes in the right spot. This is considered one of the simpler ways to stop dog urine from killing your grass, since dogs generally have a strong natural preference for peeing where they have already peed previously. However, it may be easier if you have a female dog. Male dogs are somewhat likelier to lift their leg in multiple spots, as a way of communicating their presence. A pee post is a good option to help encourage your dog to relieve himself in one spot, since they can’t resist a vertical surface (for getting their scent closer to the nose height of other dogs!)
Change Your Dog’s Diet
When protein breaks down, nitrogen is one of the by-products, which means the more protein your dog eats, the more nitrogen that gets discharged on your lawn. Not all dog foods are created equal. Processed proteins have a higher nitrogen content than fresh protein sources, so you may want to look for higher-quality dog food containing a better source of protein and a more balanced diet. It’s always a good idea to consult a veterinarian before altering your dog’s diet.
Make Sure They’re Drinking Enough
Encouraging your dog to drink more water will dilute his urine and nitrogen levels. You shouldn’t try and force a dog to drink large amounts of water, but if they’re not drinking enough, you might notice the problem improves when they drink more. You can make water more accessible by leaving different-sized bowls of water around the house, offering flavored broths, or adding water to dry food. Make sure to change the water every day, and don’t forget to take water with you when going on a walk.
Water Your Lawn More Often
Another option is to water the grass more, particularly on sunny days and during dry periods. Saturating the area after your dog urinates will dilute the nitrogen to reduce the chances of brown spots and keep the grass healthy. To conserve water, collect rainwater in a butt or dip tank, and use a watering can to soak the ground exactly where the pee is, rather than using a sprinkler to irrigate the entire lawn.
Mow Your Grass Less Frequently
Keeping your grass longer makes it easier for it to retain moisture and will keep the lawn healthier to help combat dog urine damage.
Will Grass Grow Back After Dog Urine?
Luckily, grass is extremely resilient and repairable. If your lawn only has yellow spots, it will probably revive over time by watering deeply to remove the nitrogen. Any brown grass, dead patches, or larger areas with extensive damage will probably need to be reseeded or resodded.
How to Stop Dog Urine Killing Grass Naturally – Summary
If you have a dog using your backyard to relieve himself, you’ll probably be dealing with a lawn filled with unsightly yellow spots and dead grass. The high concentration of nitrogen compounds contained in dog urine is responsible. Luckily, there are some easy, natural fixes for both your dog and your grass.
You can train your dog to pee where there’s no grass, or simply control where he has access to for his toilet breaks. You might also find that changing his diet or improving his hydration mitigates the problem. What has worked for me in the end is keeping a large watering can by the back door, which I refill from a water butt. Right after he pees, I water the spot with half a gallon of water to get the nitrogen off the leaves and lash it away from the roots. But even if dog urine has devastated your lawn, it can always be reseeded or resodded. Consider it a small price to pay for the joy of having a dog in your life!
Let us know what solution has worked for you, using the comments box down below!