The good news is that your puppy is finally housebroken and using the bathroom outside. The bad news? Your grass and plants are yellowing and dying as a result. But don't fret! While dog urine has the potential to ruin your lawn and garden, there are proactive steps you can take to protect your plants and still keep your dog's bathroom habits intact.
Effect of Urine
Dog urine is highly acidic and carries a high dose of nitrogen that burns the greenery it touches. While tougher plants, such as drought-tolerant shrubs used in desert landscaping, stand up to dog urine better than fragile blooms, they'll eventually succumb as well. Many dogs pick a particular spot in the yard to do their business, and this means whatever is in the path is prone to long-term damage.
Male dogs spray their urine everywhere when they lift their leg to go, but female dogs actually do more damage. Since females squat, they deposit all of their urine in one spot, which can result in faster, more significant plant damage. Female dogs can kill trees if they use the same spot repeatedly, as the urine will soak into the ground and damage the roots.
The most effective way to combat the damage of dog urine on your plants is to spray it away with water as soon as it is deposited. Of course, for this to be effective, you have to know exactly where your dog went. You also can train your pup to use a designated spot in the yard, or train her away from flower beds and gardens with fencing and scent repellent sprays.
Making sure your dog drinks plenty of fresh water will help to reduce the acid concentration in her urine. A number of over-the-counter supplements are available that help neutralize the acidic nature of dog urine and prevent plants from being damaged.
If your dog is doing serious damage to your yard, you can opt to retrain her to an indoor dog bathroom or paper train her. While this is usually a better option for small female dogs than for large males, it does represent another way of protecting your plants.
By Lisa McQuerrey
Aggie Horticulture: Dog-on-it Lawn Problems
Reader's Digest: 5 Ways to Keep Cats and Dogs Away from Your Garden
University of Minnesota Extension, Clay County: Dealing with "Dog Spots"
Indoor Dog Restroom
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.