Many dog owners are forced to choose between having a healthy green lawn and their dog. Dog urine can turn the healthiest of grass into a piece of dried up brown, patchy lawn that is unhealthy and downright ugly. Most homeowners wonder about these dog spots: how could their beautiful green lawn suddenly develops dark green or brown and yellow patches overnight? The grass literally appears burnt and dead. Most pet owners believe that their dog’s acidic urine is responsible for such burnt grass. However, the real reason why grass gets damaged due to dog urine is because of the urine’s high nitrogen content. Dog urine, especially that of female dogs, is extremely toxic to grass. Female dogs tend to squat while urinating which causes a burst of nitrogen salts suddenly over a small area turning all the grass yellow. These spots are also often called ‘female dog grass spots’; but in reality, even male dogs can lead to yellow and dead patches on the grass.
Let us discuss some easy ways to save your grass from your dog.
1. Train the dog/s to not use the turf area
Training a dog is not the easiest thing to do, but it will pay off in the long term and you can save your grass easily from dog pee by using this method. Alternatively, you can ask your landscaper to cover up an area with some gravel or loose soil or teach the dog to select a spot where dog ‘spotting’ will not be visible. If the dog still pees on the grass, you must flood the area immediately with plenty of water to dilute the nitrogen salts and minimize damage.
2. Do not feed the dog food supplements meant to acidify its urine
Many dog owners think this is the easiest way to save their grass from their dog. They believe that the dog’s alkaline urine is causing the yellow and brown spots on their lawn. In reality though, dog spots do not occur due to alkalinity but due to nitrogen salts in the urine. Also feeding the dog acidic products can cause many urinary health problems including urine infections which are very difficult to treat. So, always contact your vet before feeding any supplements that could affect your pet’s urine PH levels.
3. Adding salts is not the best way to cure dog spots on grass
Another common misconception among pet owners is that feeding potassium citrate, baking soda gypsum and other salts can help prevent dog spots on the grass. Not only do these not solve the ‘how to save your lawn from your dog’ problem; it could even affect your dog’s health adversely.
4. Provide large quantities of fresh drinking water to your dog
Increase your dog’s drinking water intake. This will dilute its urine and reduce the potential of grass damage. If your pet is a fussy drinker, you could consider adding some chicken broth to increase its water intake. This is the best way to save your grass from your dog urine.
5. Feeding pets salt, garlic or tomato juice: Consult your vet first!
Some pet owners have seen good results by feeding above foods to their dogs. However, many of these foods could cause serious health issues in older dogs having kidney and heart problems. So, always consult a vet before administering garlic, tomato juice or salt to the dog in order to dilute its urine and save the grass.
6. Increase nitrogen fertilization
This is the easiest way to prevent dark green spots on the grass. You can ask your landscaper to add some more nitrogen in the lawn by increasing amount and frequency of fertilization. Not only will this mask the urine induced de-coloration of your lawn, it will improve your lawn’s overall health by infusing nitrogen evenly and uniformly across the lawn.
7. Maintain adequate irrigation of the grass
Early morning watering of the lawn during peak summers can prevent drying of the grass. Lack of adequate water can cause nitrogen salt accumulation leading to dead and brown patches on the grass.
8. Reseed and resod
Brown spots on the grass do not indicate that your lawn is dead. Instead; it could indicate there is living turf beneath and all you need to do is increase watering and do some re-seeding. Watering, as already stated, will dilute the nitrogen salts in the area. If the grass is dead, then you will need to remove the dead sod along with 0.5 to 1 inch of the soil. You can then re-seed to grow fresh healthy grass.
In case of mild patches, the lawn will likely cure and repair itself. Dog spots on grass can be annoying and frustrating for pet owners but it might help to remember that repairing and preventing doggie spots on grass is a lot easier than replacing a beloved pet.