Dogs and lush lawns don’t always coexist with each other. From patches of dead grass to bare patches caused by digging, it’s easy for your pet to take a toll on your lawn. But with improved knowledge on your part and a bit of training for your dog, your lawn can thrive, even in less than ideal conditions.
Understanding the Problem
Many dog owners accept the fact that they will have urine burns in their lawns when they have a dog. These unsightly spots are caused by the nitrogen levels in the dog’s urine. Urine removes excess nitrogen from the body via the kidneys. When released, it can cause significant lawn burns, even more so if your soil already has a high level of nitrogen content.
Although unavoidable, it is possible to minimize and/or contain the impact of urine burns in your lawn. Here are some options:
- Water your dog AND your lawn – Dog urine is naturally high in nitrogen. Ensuring that your dog is well hydrated will dilute the nitrogen concentration and minimize the size and intensity of the burn spot. Moistening your dog’s dry food or giving him or her wet food is another way to increase water intake. Additionally, spraying the affected area of grass with water from a hose right after your dog urinates will help dilute the nitrogen concentration.
- Give them their own bathroom – One option is simply to train your four-legged friend to use a designated spot, perhaps somewhere out of sight. It may take some time, but dogs can be trained to go in specific areas, on command. Landscape the lawn area with pea gravel or mulch (which is easy to maintain), and potentially a marking post, such as a birdbath or a fake fire hydrant. And be sure to praise your pup after each restroom visit to teach him or her that he or she is doing the correct thing.
- Leash walking – Although not the most ideal option for pet owners who are used to letting their dogs roam free, walking your dog on a leash is a great way to lead them to the area of your choice so they don’t ruin your lawn. Plus, it’ll give you and your furry friend some bonding time and exercise.
- Avoid pet store supplements – There are many supplements out there that claim to neutralize urine and alter the urine’s pH content. But beware: these products may upset your dog’s biological balance and potentially cause bladder infections. Always consult with your veterinarian before using new products.
- Find the food that’s right for your dog – Because dogs have a large protein requirement, dog food generally contains high levels of protein. The more protein that is metabolized, the more nitrogen that is produced, resulting in more (and larger) burn spots. Talk to your vet to see if a low-source protein food is a viable option for your pet.
- Choose a lawn care provider that values your pets – Pets are an important part of your family, so your lawn care provider should welcome any questions or concerns you may have. They should provide lawn care options that keep your lawn lush and minimize risk to your pet’s health.
While your dog is only doing what is “natural” on the lawn, the bad side effects can be minimized. But no matter which option you choose, always consult with professionals—such as your dog’s veterinarian and your lawn care provider—to ensure you take proper and safe action.