Dog urine can wreak havoc on a lawn, causing brown spots and dead patches that can turn a lush, green yard into an eyesore. If lawn care and grass maintenance is important to you, than you need to know why dog urine is killing your grass, and some remedies to stop it from happening.
Many people think that dog urine kills grass because it is acidic, but this is not the case. The nitrogen found in dog urine is what is responsible for those brown patches of dead grass. Most dogs have diets rich in protein, which is broken down by the body and turned into nitrogen. This nitrogen is excreted when a dog urinates, and deposited into the grass. In small doses, nitrogen can actually help to fertilize your lawn. In high doses, however, nitrogen will kill the grass. For this reason, you’ll notice a ring of green around the outside of the dead grass spot where trace amounts of urine containing nitrogen act as a natural fertilizer and actually help the grass grow better.
While all dogs are capable of producing this grass-killing urine, some factors come into play when talking about the severity and prevalence of these spots in the lawn. Female dogs will most likely end up killing more grass than male dogs, as female dogs squat to pee and make one compact urine spot. Male dogs spray their urine, which could still kill the grass, but not nearly as severely as a female dog. Larger dogs will also be bigger culprits, as they deposit more urine in a singular spot than a smaller dog.
Additionally, some grasses, like bluegrass, are more sensitive to nitrogen than others, which could make the spots look more severe. Lawns that are fertilized regularly with nitrogen-based fertilizers will also look far worse than untreated lawns, as the additional nitrogen from dog urine will cause the grass to die much more quickly.
Now that we know why dog urine kills grass, it’s time to come up with some solutions. A few simple changes to your dog’s diet and the way you care for your lawn could make all the difference.
The first thing that you can do is to increase your dog’s water intake. By giving your dog more water throughout the day, and even adding water to his or her food, you can dilute the nitrogen in the urine and make it less potent. All dogs should have access to fresh, clean water at all times, and in terms of lawn care the motto should be the more water, the better.
You can also switch your dog to a higher quality dog food if he or she is not eating premium dog food already. Dog food with fewer additives and byproducts will not only be healthier for your dog, but it will also eliminate some of the chemicals that your dog ingests and passes in their urine. High quality dog food is also easier to digest for your dog.
In terms of lawn care solutions, you can start by simply watering your lawn more often to keep the grass healthy, and also to dilute any dog urine that may be deposited on the lawn throughout the day. You should also limit the amount of nitrogen-based fertilizer that you use on your lawn so as to not over fertilize with both nitrogen found in urine and commercial fertilizer.
If nothing else is working, you can also try planting a heartier type of grass that is less sensitive to dog urine. While grasses such as Bermuda grass and bluegrass are particularly sensitive nitrogen, other grasses like fescue or rye can stand up better to nitrogen. Try these lawn care tips and dog diet changes to keep your lawn looking green and healthy throughout the year.