You’ve put a lot of time and effort into making your lawn picture perfect. Along comes your dog (or the neighbor’s pup) and urinates on the grass, leaving a good-size yellow or brown spot. That hurts. Female dogs contribute more to the problem as they squat in one place. Males lift their leg and tend to mark several areas.
There are several reasons why dog urine kills grass including: concentrated urine, high nitrogen content with more particles in it, the range of urine pH is too acidic or too alkaline and the urine contains salts and other compounds. A diet high in protein also contributes to lawn burn.
Dog urine is slightly acidic with a pH of 6 – 6.5. If urine is alkaline it is higher on the scale while acidic urine is lower. PH is the measure, by international agreement, of whether a solution is acidic or alkaline. The letters are thought to stand for power (p) and hydrogen (H).
If a dog’s urine measures higher than a pH of 7, struvite crystals can form in the urinary tract. If the pH level is lower than 6, there is a risk of calcium oxalate stones developing.
You can purchase pH strips at most local pharmacies. The time to measure the urine pH is in the morning before feeding your dog. You can do the test either by collecting urine in a container and dipping the tape in it or by holding the tape under the stream of urine. It’s not necessary to test throughout the day.
You can help keep the pH of urine at the right mark by checking your dog’s diet. To lower pH levels, feed a low carbohydrate, no grain, potato free either fresh or canned food diet. Increasing moisture content of food helps to lower grass burn.
If the problem of your dog’s urine killing the grass persists, there are several things you can do that may help. Try watering down the spot immediately after your dog urinates. Compost the area to help reduce burning. You can also mark off one area of your garden and train your dog to urinate there. Planting clover in the spot or other urine resistant ground covers helps too. Change to a low nitrogen fertilizer, but make sure it is pet-safe. A fence can help keep other animals out of your garden.
Be very careful using commercial lawn burn products as they can cause urinary tract problems (crystals and bladder stones).