Dead Spots From Dog Urine

Dog Urine And The Lawn

Every year I get a number of  requests from readers asking me to help them prevent the spots of dead grass caused by the urine of their dog. While I have discussed this problem in the past it seems to deserve another shot. When I suggest to a reader getting rid of the dog, they don’t think that is very funny.  There is no question that some dog urine will kill grass. It is the high concentration of nitrogen in the urine that does the dirty deed. 

All dog urine does not automatically kill grass. There must be a fair amount of urine applied to one spot. 

  • Female dogs are more of a problem because they tend to pee all at once in one spot.  The males tend to spread it around as they mark the area. 
  • Big dogs are more of a problem because they produce a higher volume than do the little dogs. 
  • A lawn that is highly fertilized is more vulnerable because it already has a high nitrogen level. 
  • A lawn growing on compacted soil with only two inches roots is more vulnerable because the urine stays more concentrated since it can’t drain away. 
  • Newly seeded or sodded lawns are also more vulnerable to urine damage. 

If I am not willing to get rid of my dog, what can I do to deal with this problem? 

  • If you are able to pour a few cups of water on the spot that has received the urine within a few hours of the dirty deed, you will dilute the nitrogen sufficiently to avoid killing the grass.  Following your dog around the yard with a watering can may seem a bit embarrassing, but it works. 
  • Many dogs, especially the larger breeds, can be trained to pee in just one area of the yard, preferably back behind the garage someplace.  The area needs to be at least  five feet by twenty feet because female dogs do not like to pee in exactly the same spot each time.  I have seen doggy potty boxes made of railroad ties, filled with sand, about four feet wide and twenty feet long. 
  • If you are going to overseed your lawn, perennial ryegrass and tall fescue are less vulnerable to doggie spots than is Kentucky bluegrass.
  • Any reliable veterinarian will be strongly opposed to a dog owner trying to solve the lawn problem by fooling with the dog’s diet or his/her water intake.  Well intentioned owners can cause the dog to have serious side effects that can be very hazardous to the dog. 

Once the grass is dead, it will not come back with any snake oil remedies that might be sold.  You must reseed the area to get rid of the brown spot. 

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