Dog Urine and Grass Damage

How Dog Pee Ruins Your Lawn

Dog Smelling On Grassy Field
Nina Marsiglio / EyeEm / Getty Images

Grass burns from dog urine are a source of frustration for dog owners who take pride in a beautiful lawn. Brown or yellow spots of dead grass are unsightly, but some dog owners feel that it's just part of living with dogs. However, this does not have to be the case. The good news is that there are ways to prevent grass burns from dog urine. 

How Dog Pee Kills Grass

While nitrogen is an essential component in healthy soil, high concentrations of it can cause grass to turn yellow or brown.

Urine is naturally high in nitrogen and alone can cause grass burns. Lawn fertilizer also contains nitrogen. An excess of either or a combination of urine and fertilizer may result in an overdose of nitrogen, thus "burning" the grass. Salts and other compounds in dog urine can also contribute to grass damage. In addition, highly acidic or alkaline urine may alter pH of the soil in that area of your yard, adversely affecting the grass there.

Some people say that female dog urine causes more trouble to the lawn than male dog urine. It may seem like the urine itself is the cause, but it's actually just the way they urinate. Female dogs can cause more damage to grass than males simply because most tend to squat and urinate in one place while many males lift the leg and "mark" upright objects in multiple locations. The composition of a dog's urine does not vary that much between male and female dogs, especially when spayed or neutered.

How to Prevent Grass Damage From Dog Urine

There are a few ways to prevent brown or yellow spots on your lawn caused by dog urine. You can try more than one option at a time for maximum results. There is no guaranteed way to end urine spots in the yard, but one or more of the following methods might help stop grass burns caused by dog urine:

  • Train your dog to urinate in one area and plant a urine-resistant ground covering in that area. One great option for this is clover ground cover.
  • Create a dog-friendly landscape in your entire yard so it doesn't matter where your dog pees.
  • Give your dog a supplement or food additive that is designed to neutralize the nitrogen in the urine. One example of this type of product is Naturvet Grass Saver. Buy on Amazon. (Always ask your vet before starting any supplement. In addition, never attempt to alter your dog's urine pH unless specifically recommended by your vet.)
  • Immediately after your dog urinates, use a garden hose to rinse off the area. Encourage your dog to urinate in a different area each time so the urine (and the watering) is spread out.
  • Consider switching to a low-nitrogen fertilizer for your lawn (make sure it's pet-safe too).

Remember that other animals might have access to your yard and their urine can cause lawn damage as well. A fence will keep out any dogs passing by, but cats and various wild animals are not so easy to stop. This may explain continued brown or yellow spots in the yard after implementing the above recommendations. Daily watering can minimize these spots.

Of course, some people opt to use special animal deterrents. If you do this, make sure it's safe for your dog and other animals. The idea is to repel the animals, not harm them.