Dog urine is often one of the leading causes of dead patches in our lawns. Urine burns can be particularly frustrating as the solution is not always clear. We have looked into a variety of options that could help to stop or reduce the effect of urine burns on your lawn.
Why does my dog’s urine kill my lawn?
Protein taken in by dogs is excreted through the dog’s urine as nitrogen. As dog’s urine can be quite concentrated with nitrogen, our lawns can become burnt and die off. This can become particularly annoying, especially when these patches are in areas of high visibility or of which you wish to enjoy.
Here's what Urine burn can look like...
Urine burn presents as small concentrated patches of dead lawn. Often they are almost circular, weird shapes or lines appearing exactly where your dog urinates. If your lawn is otherwise healthy, the stark difference between the patches and your healthy lawn is usually a big giveaway that urine is the culprit.
Urine Prevention Tips
A popular option by many dog owners is Dog Rocks. Dog Rocks help by filtering out impurities in water, such as tin, ammonia and nitrates. These rocks are simply added to your dog’s water bowl where they are claimed to make the necessary adjustments for burn-free urine.
Although this product does not help areas which have already been affected by urine burn, they can however, help to stop more spots from occurring. Dog Rocks can start working 8-10 hours after being placed into your dog’s water bowl and will need replacing every 2 months.
Watering and Irrigation methods
If you are able to dilute your dog’s urine before it is able to absorb and dry, you will be able to limit the concentration and reduce the likelihood for burning. If you have an irrigation or watering system that you can add a timer to, you could set it to come on more regularly throughout the day or specifically in areas that you know your dog regularly uses. While this may not be frequent enough to be effective all of the time, it may be enough to significantly reduce the amount of burning that is occurring.
Of course, if you happen to be around when your dog does their business, a quick blast with the hose will greatly limit burns to your lawn.
When looking to make changes to your dog’s diet to reduce the impact of urine, it is recommended that you contact your local veterinarian to ensure you are still providing your fury friends with their essential nutrient requirements and not causing them any harm.
Some options include:
- Filtering your dog’s water before adding to their water bowl. Filtered water can work in a similar way to Dog Rocks, by removing impurities in the water. If you do not have access to a filtered water tap, a popular option is to use a filtered water jug. These jugs often come with a removable filter which can be changed every 2 months.
- By feeding your dog a high-quality and well-balanced diet with the appropriate protein levels for your dog’s breed, you should be able to reduce the concentration of nitrogen in your dog’s urine.
- Adding one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your dog’s water is claimed to help remove nitrogen from your dog’s urine. However, it is important to note that there is no substantial evidence that this method will be successful. If you do decide to try this method, we recommend that you use a natural apple cider vinegar from a health food store and get in contact with your local vet prior to use.
- Training your dog to only use one area of your lawn may be an effective option to help stop widespread damage. It is best to choose an area of your lawn which isn’t used as often or is not visible from where you like to relax and enjoy your garden.
- Training your dog to use a synthetic pet potty mat could also be an effective option that won’t require any changes to your dog’s diet. There are a variety of pet potty mats available both online and in stores. It is important to note that this option may be timely as training is required but can provide a long-term solution.
- Similar to a synthetic potty mat, you can make your own pet potty mat using turf. This way your dog will still be able to have the same feel of grass underfoot while doing its business. Use a shallow container or tray that is easy for your pets to walk into, place a role of turf into the tray and replace turf as needed. Again, this will take time to train your dog to use but will stop your dog urinating on your lawn.
Treating dog urine burn patches
Once the urine burn has occurred, the burnt turf may not grow back. But there a few things you can do to help the area recover quickly.
Firstly, rake out the dead plant material and lightly raise the area by adding a small amount of topsoil. You can also add some dolomite lime which will reduce the acidity caused by the urine burn in the soil, making it more favourable for new growth. Follow this up with regular watering and mowing and you will help to encourage lateral growth and further thickening of the lawn.
By using some of the tips above, or in combination, you should hopefully have some success with limiting the effect of dog urine on your lawn. Good luck!