Q: I am so glad to see the grass getting green at last! Well, mostly green… what can I do about those dog urine scald spots in my lawn?
A: First of all, be sure your dog is to blame! Grubs that attack grass roots can make yellow patches too. Tug on the grass – if the roots are damaged, it comes up in your hand; that means grubs. If the roots are OK, then it could be dog pee.
There are three factors of dog urine that can damage your grass:
- Concentration – Urine has dissolved materials and salts at a much higher concentration than in the blood. This means it is like watering your lawn with sea water
- pH – dog urine should be on the acid side; if it is more alkaline, from dietary causes or from infection, it hurts the grass more.
- .NITROGEN – the main purpose of pee is to get nitrogen wastes out of the body. Just like too much nitrogen fertilizer can “burn” your grass, so can nitrogen-rich pee (on the plus side, the grass around the yellow patch tends to be a well-fertilized extra green colour!)
So, what to do?
- Help the grass
- Dilution – douse the area with a hose or bucket right after your dog pees
- Buffering – sprinkle the lawn with phosphorous-rich material to balance out the nitrogen-rich pee: grass clippings mulched back into the lawn, compost, peat moss, wood ash
- Keep the lawn healthy (watered, fertilized) – a stressed lawn “burns” more easily.
- Avoid the grass – make a dog toilet area of mulch or gravel (here is my Isora in ours!)
- Change the urine
- Produce more dilute urine – use moisture-rich foods ie canned food or soaked kibble. Tricks to make the dog drink more, like adding salty tomato juice to the food, are not a good idea if the dog has heart or kidney issues.
- Feed to produce the normal acid pH – animal-based protein produces an acidic urine. Plant-based protein (eg cereal based) makes a more alkaline urine. Keep in mind that if the urine suddenly burns more without a change in diet, a urinary infection could be to blame – get your dog checked by the vet!
- Bind up the nitrogen – Dog Rocks (dogrockscanada) are volcanic rocks that you add to your dog’s drinking water, that provide nitrogen-binding minerals. Lawn Guard dog treats (drsfostersmith) contain extracts of the yucca plant that bind up nitrogen in the urine.
Enjoy a Green Summer with your dog!