It’s that nice time of year when we spend a lot of time outdoors doing garden work and preening our lawns into lush green carpets. And what dog doesn’t love to roll around on the cool grass, or even swipe a few nibbles of the green blades? As you’re romping with your dog, you spy yellow or dead spots on the lawn from where your dog has been doing its business. Wait, are we talking about pee spots? Yes, we are!
Are these urine spots normal?
Yes! Urine spots on the lawn are completely natural, notes PDSA, the UK’s Vet Charity For Pets in Need. “Because dogs naturally have nitrogen in their pee from the normal breakdown of proteins, when it hits the grass it can ‘burn’ the area they pee on. A common misconception is that the grass is damaged because of the pH (acidity) of the urine, but this is not true. On the bright side, the grass surrounding this will get extra nutrients from your dog’s pee so will probably start to look greener!”
Why does a dog’s urine ruin the grass?
“As the water in their pee evaporates, what’s left behind is a high concentration of nitrogen,” states the American Kennel Club (AKC.org). “If left untreated, the grass will appear brown at the center and green at the edges where the nitrogen is less concentrated, which leaves those nasty yellow marks.”
What are some ways to prevent these burn spots on grass?
A great way to alleviate this problem is to give your dogs their own specific area as a “doggy bathroom,” and train them with positive reinforcement to learn that is where they can go to do their business. This is exactly what we did for our five Siberian Huskies, three females and two males. Some people may say it is easier to train a female dog, but it is actually just as easy to help train a male dog by understanding their needs. A tree, pole, or even a faux hydrant in the yard are all things that will appeal to a male dog to pee on. When they go, male or female, use positive reinforcement to drive home how happy you are they are going potty in their designated outdoor bathroom area. The use of pee pads can help puppies learn where to go when outside, just the same as indoors. For our Huskies when they were puppies, we would open our back door and say, “Potty off the deck,” the command they were taught, along with extending an arm pointing off our deck to their bathroom area of the yard. It didn’t take very long before they knew exactly where to go, and they ran back eager for their reward “prize” of a treat.
Not everyone’s dogs free roam in the yard, but basically the same method of training can be used for leash walking. Simply walk the dog to the specific area you want to use as their bathroom area. Again, once they “go,” positive praise (and treats) will let them know they hit their mark! Either method, training your dog where they should and can go, keeps them off the lawn area you want to keep green. By being consistent and positive, they quickly learn exactly where their place is to go.
Can what dogs eat or drink make a difference?
According to Nandini Maharaj on AKC.org, in addition to your dog’s drinking water being good for their overall health, “The increased water consumption may have the added benefit of reducing damage to your grass,” as well as a more natural and less processed type of dog food, which “can reduce the amount of nitrogen in their urine.” In addition to keeping fresh, clean water available for your dogs at all times, to help aid in increasing your dog’s water consumption, you can a little bit of organic fruits to your dog’s diet, such as watermelon, blueberries, cantaloupe, and apple slices. Before changing or adding anything to your dog’s diet, always consult with your veterinarian.
What about urine neutralizing supplements for your dog?
You may have heard of products or supplements out on the market that claim to help neutralize a dog’s pee so it does not burn or ruin grass. However, an important message from Maharaj and AKC.org, is to “Exercise caution when using enzyme supplements that claim to prevent grass burns. These products can change the acidity or alkalinity of your dog’s pee, potentially affecting their health.” So once again, always check with your vet before giving any new product to your dog.
Your dog has peed on the grass. Here are a few helpful tips:
To help the lawn recover, many lawncare professionals will recommend watering down the pee area with lots and lots of hose water. Key is to be sure the urine spot is completely diluted, so don’t be afraid to flood it with the hose!
According to the Yard & Garden Guru, baking soda can be used to help neutralize the pee spot. “A gallon of water and two tablespoons of baking soda are required for this procedure. Pour the sodium bicarbonate mixture over the spot where the animal has urinated. Since the ammonia and nitrogen in dog urine are neutralized by baking soda, the grass won’t turn brown and leave a damaged area. The added benefit of baking soda is that it is safe for animals.”
Keep up with continued lawn care. “Maintain your grass,” states the AKC.org. “Reseed the dead patches and switch to a dog-friendly fertilizer that contains less nitrogen. Water your lawn regularly, ensuring the water penetrates deeply into the soil.” Also, the type of grass you plant can make a difference. Notes the Yard & Garden Guru, “Choose your type of grass carefully as ryegrass, and tall fescue grass grow slightly urine resistant.” Already have a ruined patch of grass? Dig it up and plant new grass.
Is your yard stinky? To help get rid of dog potty odors, obviously always clean up after your dog. There are natural or “green” eco-friendly odor eliminators you can hook up to your hose and spray across the lawn (even plants, the deck, and patio) to help get rid of the odor. Some have citronella or oils in them, so be sure the ingredients do not adversely affect your dog (or trigger a dog with seizures). Naturally, wait until the application is dried before allowing your dogs back outside. Not sure if it a product is safe around your dog? Check with your vet.
Did You Know…?
4Knines has stylish gray dog poop bag holders and extra-large 100% recycled poop bags?
4Knines is committed to giving back to the animal community.
They donate a percentage of each sale to animal advocacy groups.
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author. Her canine books include EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle (ArcticHouse Publishing). Her internationally top blogsite is FiveSibes™ , based on her five Siberian Huskies, and includes an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed.
Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul & Rosie the Riveter book series, Woman’s World Magazine, AmericanPet Magazine, American Dog Media, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy has been awarded the prestigious Maxwell Medallion by the Dog Writers of America Association for “Excellence” for her writing, photography, and fiction. Her book EPIc Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and the NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. She was named “Best Author” by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four of her books were named “Best in Print” by AmericanPet Magazine.
An official International Purple Day® for (K9) Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy partnered with the nonprofit Purple Day® Every Day presented by The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for her #Paws4Purple initiative, and she created the #FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K9 Epilepsy Online Resource Library—all inspired by her epileptic Siberian Husky, Gibson, in order to help other Epi-dog families find accurate information to help their Epi-dogs.