I take a huge amount of pride in my garden lawn. It took me a couple of years to get the grass just right. But we then got a dog. Claude was initially given free access to the garden and I actively encouraged him to pee out there. That was until the yellow and brown patches arrived!
Does dog pee kill grass? Yes, dog pee does kill grass. The reason why dog urine kills grass is due to the nitrogen in the urine. In concentrated amounts it can burn and turn the grass yellow just like a bleach or ammonia would. But in small amounts, dog pee can actually fertilize your grass.
I appreciate this is a little confusing. After all, how much dog pee is good for your lawn, and how much dog pee will actually kill the grass? And does it make a difference if it’s a male or female dog?
Let’s take a closer look…
Why does dog pee kill grass?
New dog owners will often overlook the fact that dog urine can be so damaging to their lawn. After all, your new puppy is probably so busy digging holes up that you neglect to think of the carnage their pee can actually cause.
When we got our puppy, I was continually chasing him and using my foot to pat down areas he had started to dig. Although I could see him peeing on the grass, it didn’t occur to me that this would be the bigger problem.
That was until a few days later when I looked out of the window to see the nasty yellow patches that had developed on my lushly manicured lawn overnight.
So why does dog urine kill your grass?
The reason why dog pee kills your grass is due to the high levels of nitrogen in the urine. In the majority of cases, dog pee contains relatively neutral levels of pH in their urine (between 7 and 7.5). These levels alone aren’t usually enough to turn your grass yellow – unless your dog is urinating in the same spot regularly – that’s when it becomes a problem and can kill your lawn.
In fact, dog urine in small amounts can actually act as a fertilizer on your grass. Dog urine and off the shelf fertilizers actually have some common shared elements like potassium and phosphorus.
This is why you will often see a burned yellow patch of grass where a higher concentration of urine has occurred, with a vibrant green ring around the patch where the urine concentration was lower and diluted. That rich and vibrant green ring is where the urine has acted as a fertilizer.
But ultimately, the effect of lots of urine with high levels of nitrogen is exactly the same as if you poured bleach or ammonia on the grass; the grass will die.
In fact, there are certain grass types that are more prone to damage. For example, dog pee kills Bermuda grass more than standard grass types. Kentucky bluegrass is also very susceptible to urine damage.
If your dog is peeing regularly in the same spot (or has unusually high levels of nitrogen in his urine), the patch of grass will turn yellow and brown within a few days and die.
Will the grass be permanently damaged from dog urine?
In hot conditions, the lawn damage can be even worse as the urine can burn the roots of the grass, sometimes leading to irreparable damage. I actually had to dig the poisoned lawn patches up one hot summer, lay down new soil, and re-seed the area.
But, in most cases your grass should be able to handle the dog pee, particularly with smaller dogs who don’t have as much urine volume. Your grass could grow back in a few months’ time, especially if your dog isn’t returning to the same patch each time.
Does male dog urine kill grass?
There’s an old wives’ tale that female dog urine is worse for grass than male urine. In truth, there is no difference between male and female dog urine, it’s just related to how the dog genders differ in the way they urinate.
Does male or female dog urine kill grass? Both female and male dog urine kills grass. However, you will notice more damage with female dogs as they tend to squat and pee in one spot, whereas male dogs urinate in tinier spots as they wander across your lawn in a larger surface area to mark territory.
You might have already noticed this if you have a male dog like us. Claude wanders about our garden doing small pees on the grass, but his female friend who comes to visit will sit in one spot, doing a larger pee.
This is where the term “Female Dog Spot Disease” comes from. It’s not an actual disease at all, but just a name that dog owners have come up with to describe how badly their female dog’s pee will kill grass.
How to stop dog urine from killing grass naturally
If you prefer to use a natural approach to the problem rather than harsh chemical-based solution, then here are some ways you can stop dog urine killing your grass naturally. There are also things you can change with your dog’s diet and behavior to stop the pee killing your grass.
So how do you train your dog to go outside, while also preventing damage to the lawn?
1. Spray water on the urine patch
First up, what’s the quickest way to prevent dog urine from killing your grass? It’s water, plain and simple.
When I see our dog peeing on my lawn, I will quickly grab a bucket of water or a hose and dowse the patch as quick as I can. The water will dilute the urine and could actually then help to fertilize the area as the pH levels will come down.
2. Keep your dog hydrated with water
This might sound counter-intuitive, but the more water your dog drinks, the less the urine will damage your lovely lawn. The reason being; water will dilute down the nitrogen in the pee to less concentrated levels.
There’s also the secondary benefit of keeping your dog healthy and hydrated during the hot summer months.
But don’t think this is a magic bullet.
It probably won’t completely eliminate the problem.
3. Use less fertilizer on your lawn
Again, this might sound like an odd thing to say, but it can actually help to reduce the damage your dog’s pee does to the grass.
It’s because the more fertilizer you place on grass, the more nitrogen there’s already going to be. An overly fertilised lawn already high in nitrogen will react badly to this added amount.
And as we now know, the nitrogen in dog’s urine can kill grass. If you can reduce how much is on your lawn in the first place, particularly in the areas your dog likes to go, it could reduce amount of yellow burn marks.
If you still want to fertilise your lawn, consider using less fertiliser or only apply it in safe areas where you dog cannot access.
Handy Hint: It’s not just urine that kills lawns, but also when your dog kicks his legs back after doing a poop. Here’s how you can help stop the grass kicking.
4. Possibly make changes to your dog’s diet
Whilst this won’t completely stop your dog’s urine from killing your grass, it can have a small positive affect.
You will need to reduce how much protein is in your dog’s diet, whilst increasing the amount of carbohydrates they eat. This will help to reduce the acidic content in the urine.
However, a diet change shouldn’t really be used, as active and young dogs need proteins in their diet. Nitrogen metabolism is an absolute must for health dogs, so I don’t really recommend this one, but wanted to mention it anyway in case your dog is taking on too much protein due to an unbalanced diet.
5. Feed your dog supplements
Rather than changing their diet, you could try adding to it. There are certain products available on Amazon that bind with the nitrogen in your dog’s urine to help reduce the harmful nature to lawns.
Weird, but it’s true!
For example, the Premium Care Grass Burn chewable tablets on Amazon contain healthy supplements that will mean their urine doesn’t kill your grass off. They are completely natural and safe, and also include essential enzymes and probiotics.
Grass burn chews help treat the yellow lawn patches at the source: your dog. Containing 200mg of digestive enzymes in every serving, alone with green tea extract, 1 billion CFUs of probiotics, Yucca extract and apple cider vinegar, these chews promote healthy digestion and bowel movements as well as reducing the levels of nitrogen in your dog’s urine.
These chews do not contain any additional corn, dairy, soy or artificial colours or ingredients.
You could also try these Dog Rocks on Amazon. Sourced from Australia, these naturally occurring paramagnetic igneous rocks act as sponges for the excess nitrogen in your dog’s urine. You just add them to your dog’s drinking water.
A 100% natural solution, these rocks have been laboratory tested to be safe for dogs and other pets and do not affect the PH balance in your dog’s urine, it simply draws out the excess nitrogen in their pee patches after the fact.
6. Change the grass on your lawn
I know this sounds drastic but might actually be the best solution longer term.
Certain grass types die off quicker and are more susceptible to dog urine. Grasses to avoid include Kentucky bluegrass and Bermuda grass. Both get ruined and killed by dog pee far worse than other lawns.
So what grass is best for dog urine?
Professional gardeners swear by Fescue grass and perennial Ryegrass. There are far more resistant to dog pee than other grass types.
7. Train your dog to pee in a new place
Training your dog to not pee on your grass isn’t always easy, but I did create a guide which explains how to get them to pee in a new place. It’s worth a shot!
What you could try instead is a product called the Simple Solution Pee Post on Amazon. It’s got pheromones in it that dogs are attracted to when needing a pee. It doesn’t have great reviews but at the low price is probably worth a shot if you’re really desperate.
In the end I actually took quite drastic action and built a small 6 x 6 feet patio area which I then fenced off. That meant our dog Claude could come out of the dog flap, pee on the concrete, and only have access to our lawn when being supervised.
Does vinegar stop dog pee from killing grass?
Vinegar doesn’t neutralize nitrogen, so it won’t stop your dog pee killing your grass if you pour it on the patch. However, there is some evidence to suggest that cider vinegar in your dog’s diet can help to reduce the pH levels in their urine. That’s why you will see cider vinegar as an active ingredient in some of those dietary supplements I recommended above.
How to repair grass burned and killed by dog urine
You’re probably reading this guide to why does dog pee kills grass because you’ve already encountered the problem. If the damage has already been done, then the pointers above should hopefully give you some ideas on how to prevent it in the future.
But what about repairing grass burns from dog urine?
If the patches are only small, e.g. a couple of inches, then they should grow the grass back in 60 days or less. But for larger patches of yellow burned grass, you will need to take action.
There’s only really one way for you to treat damage to your grass from dog urine. You will need to re-seed the dead grass patches, then encourage new growth and counteract the nitrogen in the soil.
Replace the dead grass with new seeds
All you do is rake over the dead grass, then poke one-centimetre holes into the soil’s surface.
Now sprinkle some grass seeds in, providing you can get match for your existing lawn. Gardeners recommend around 15 seeds for every square inch of soil.
Then tread down onto the soil with your feet until it gets firm, then water it lightly every day for a fortnight.
Before you do any seeding, I would also recommend that you completely soak your lawn with water or wait for a downpour of rain. This will help to remove any existing urine still left and will remove excess salts from the lawn.
Most people take pride in their lawns and grass in their backyard, and when encouraging your dog to go to the toilet outside there is a fear that this could negatively affect the health of your lawn.
And that fear is well-placed, because dog pee does kill grass. This is particularly true if you have a female dog who likes to pee in the same patch each time, with male dogs, not so much.
Dog urine acts like a nitrogen-rich liquid fertilizer, and in small amounts can be healthy for your lawn.
But in hot weather, or with a dog who likes to pee in the same place each time, your grass is at risk of dying.
The bottom line is this; if you want to protect your grass from dog urine, you need to reduce how much nitrogen gets to the lawn.
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On the same topic of your garden or yard, I’ve also written some additional guides which you might be interested in. You can read those below: