Have you ever noticed patches of burned grass in your yard? I’m talking about those unsightly, stubborn yellow/brown spots that can drive a lawn-lover crazy! Well, my fellow dog parent, that may be your pup’s handy work.
If you’re a dog parent with a lawn then chances are you’ve dealt with dog urine burn spots at some point. In this post, we’re talking about the three main reasons dog urine has such an effect of your lush greenery. Plus, eight tips to protect your grass.
Why Dog Urine Burns Grass
There are three primary reasons why dog urine burns grass:
Alkaline pH Level
As carnivores, veterinarians say healthy canines should have a slightly acidic urine pH. The numbers should be anywhere between 6 and 6.5. Anything higher than a 7 is said to not only burn green grass, but it can also cause health issues for your pup.
You can pick up a pack of pH strips from your vet or local drug store to check your pup’s pH levels right at home! During your first walk of the day (before your pooch has indulged in breakfast), simply collect your dog’s urine in a clean container and then dip the pH strip.
Our little (or maybe big) four-legged meat eater consumes high levels of protein in their diet. The more protein a dog eats, the higher the nitrogen levels found in their urine. Experts say very high nitrogen levels can cause those unwanted grass burns.
As you can probably imagine, concentrated urine has more solutes and is harsher on grass than diluted urine. This is one reason why many people believe female dogs kill more grass than male dogs. Since females squat to pee, they’re dispersing a lot of solutes into one spot. Whereas male dogs lift their leg and spray a little urine here and a little urine there.
8 Tips To Protect & Repair Your Lawn
1. Walk Your Dog
The best thing you could do to prevent urine burns in the first place — or get your lawn back into shape — is to grab a leash and take your pooch for a walk elsewhere. Not only will it give your grass time to recover, but it’ll give you and Fido extra bonding time and exercise.
2. Feed A High-Quality Diet
One way to help maintain proper pH and nitrogen levels is through a healthy diet. According to Dr. Karen Becker:
“Dry foods increase urine concentrations and also ammonia levels. Ammonia has a pH of 10 or more. A moisture-rich diet promotes a healthy specific gravity (urine concentration) that decreases the likelihood the urine will burn your lawn. “
Talk to your veterinarian about which diet is best for your dog.
3. Keep Fido Well-Hydrated
If Fido is going to use your yard as his potty then keep him well-hydrated. You see, a well-hydrated dog will have a more dilute urine, which in turn is less likely to burn your lawn.
Since standing water is not very appealing and can also harbor unwanted parasites, remember to always keep the bowl clean and change the water at least daily. I personally use the Primo Water Cooler Dispenser + Pet Station and they love to drink from it. It’s always fresh, cold, and easily dispensed. Here’s how it works:
Another of my favorites is this stainless steel fountain. It keeps the water moving so it doesn’t get stagnant and the dogs love it!
4. Hydrate Your Lawn Too
When it comes to cleaning up your pup’s potty (AKA your lawn), come prepared with two things: Poop bags and a garden hose! Just like you would reach down to scoop up #2, you can easily spray away #1.
Right after your pooch pees, take a moment to rinse the area. If you don’t have a hose handy, you can easily use a garden watering can. This will dilute the urine and hopefully avoid any damage in the first place.
5. Reconsider How You Fertilize The Lawn
Since nitrogen in urine is one culprit that’s causing urine burns in the first place, you’ll need to be extra mindful of adding fertilizer to your lawn where your dog goes potty. Why? Because the main ingredient in fertilizer is also nitrogen.
Nitrogen will give you the response you are looking for when used at the correct dosage. But when you apply too much — you guessed it — the grass will burn. If your pooch is already burning your lawn, be careful not to increase the nitrogen in those areas. If you do use fertilizer, use a low nitrogen formula.
6. Create A Separate Potty Area
Choosing a special potty area and training your pooch to use it is a surefire way to protect the majority of your grass. Box in an area and fill it with dog-friendly materials. Make it as low key or elaborate as you’d like.
7. Use Urine-Resistant Grass In Potty Area
Some grasses, like Kentucky Bluegrass and Bermuda, are more prone to urine burns than others. I live in the southeast and Bermuda grass is used very often here. It’s actually what I have and I’ll tell you from personal experience it is very sensitive to dog urine burns. Fescue and Ryegrass are known to be much more urine-resistant. But, even with a resistant grass, it will only tolerate so much nitrogen.
8. Lawn Repair Solutions
There are chemicals and formulas that you can find in your local home store, garden center, or pet store. But, to me, it’s just as easy to dig or rake out the dead grass. Pick up a bag of grass seed at the garden center and follow the directions on the bag to plant it. Within a couple of weeks, you will have nice new baby grass in the little circle that you just repaired. If you are following the tips above hopefully you’ll be free from those little brown circles from now on.