What to Do About Urine Burns on Your Lawn
Leaving your dog out in the yard to relieve himself may be easier than getting the dog leash and taking him out for a walk, but it can lead to a barrage of unsightly yellow spots on your lawn. These spots appear because the urine eventually kills the grass in your yard. These problems are found more frequently in houses with large female dogs.
Many people believe that these spots occur because the urine is acidic and caustic to the grass. As a result of this, a number of pet owners have added baking soda, tomato juice or vitamin C to their dog’s diet. This theory may work at times, but is usually somewhat ineffective because the additives make the dog thirstier and the increase of water consumption dilutes the urine. The real villain in this story is nitrogen.
Dogs are carnivores and therefore eat a diet that consists of high levels of protein. When the proteins are broken down they are excreted as nitrogen in the urine. The overload of nitrogen is what essentially kills the grass in your yard; the same type of burn will occur if a concentrated handful of fertilizer is left in one spot. The urine spots often feature a green halo around the outside where the urine was diluted enough to act as a fertilizer. These rings are used to distinguish urine burns from a type of grub infestation which will also create a similar looking brown spot.
Spots may become worse due to a number of other factors. For example, urine burns tend to be worse with female dogs because they squat and deposit the urine in one place. They are also worse with larger dogs because they release a larger quantity of urine. Fertilizing your lawn regularly can overload the level of nitrogen faster and may cause spotting. Grasses like bluegrass or Bermuda grass are much more sensitive to nitrogen than other types. Recently sodded or seeded lawns, as well as ones stressed from drought are often more susceptible to urine spots.
Adding water to your pet’s diet can help dilute urine, leading to less concentrated nitrogen deposits and a less affected lawn. Canned dog food has a lot more water in it but it also has its drawbacks. Feeding a high quality diet may also help since the protein is more digestible and there are fewer waste products. Watering the yard daily helps in some cases but it may not be enough; if you are using fertilizer, you should probably stop, for the sake of your lawn.