While it’s every new dog owner’s dream to have their pup fully housebroken and using the “bathroom” outside, one downside of housetraining can be the burned patches of grass where your dog urinates. The high concentration of nitrogen found in the ammonia component of dog urine kills grass if left untreated, leaving yellow or brown patches in your yard. However, did you know that females dogs do a bit more damage than male dogs in this regard? If you've got a girl pooch, though, have no fear! There are ways to combat the problem for both genders.
Boys vs. Girls
It's not what in their pee, it's how (and how much) they pee that matters! Female dogs squat to urinate, depositing a concentrated amount in a single spot, compounding the grass damage. Male dogs lift their legs and spray, which disperses the urine over a wider areas, and damages the grass slower, but in a wider area. Large dogs of both genders do more damage than small dogs, simply because of the volume of urine they are eliminating.
Pick a Spot
If dogs are outside for extended periods of time, and not just on a leash for bathroom breaks, they’re likely to use the whole yard for their elimination needs, though they eventually may favor one area over another. If you oversee outside time, you can guide your pup to a non-grass area, or a secluded part of your yard where urine damage won’t be as noticeable. Once the dog has marked his territory sufficiently, he’ll likely continue to use that spot on a regular basis.
Water it Down
If you have an automated sprinkler system for your yard, it will help dilute the urine concentration every time the sprinkler is on. You can hose down your yard alternately several times a day, though if you have a large grassy area, this might not be practical. This approach is more efficient if your dog uses a limited area of your yard, which can be taught through training.
The more water your dog drinks, the more diluted his urine will be, and the less resulting damage will be done to your grass. One way to get extra water into your dog is through canned dog food, which has more liquid than dry food. You also can use a high quality dog food that doesn't exceed your breed’s recommended daily allowance for protein content, which will cut down on the nitrogen in his urine.
Many commercial supplements are on the market designed to neutralize the nitrogen concentration of urine and eliminate grass destruction. Other home remedies include adding tomato paste or ketchup to your dog’s diet to achieve the same effect. Before trying either, consult your vet about which approach is best for your particular animal companion.
Freshly-seeded or sodded grass is more susceptible to destruction by dog urine, as it is just getting established. Some grasses are more tolerant of dogs, so you may choose to plant a hearty variety that will do well in your particular climate. Bluegrass and fescue are notoriously bad at rebounding from dog urine. Additionally, if you fertilizer your yard with nitrogen, and your dog is doing so as well, you may want to cut back.
By Lisa McQuerrey
About the Author
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.