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Burn Baby Burn! Grass Burns from Dog Urine

Posted Jan 10 2011 12:38am

Why does dog urine burn the grass?
Dog urine has a very high nitrogen content, and tends to have a high ph level as well. If you frequently use a nitrogen-based fertilizer, you will have a more noticeable problem. The concentration of nitrogen in one spot is too high, and as a result, the grass dies, while an outer ring seems to flourish.

Why is it that male dogs don’t seem to burn grass like a female dog does?
Female dogs usually squat to urinate, and male dogs (unless they are squatters) usually urinate on something upright (marking their territory). This results in a higher concentration of urine left behind from a female dog, because a male dog’s urine is usually dripping down something, and spread out more thinly. Also adding to the perception that female dogs are more guilty of burning the grass; a spot of dead grass in the center of a green lawn is far more obvious than a small ring around an upstanding object.
Isn’t that a nice visual?

How do I prevent it from happening?
There are food additives and supplements available that neutralize the acid in your dog’s urine to help prevent grass burns. One of these products is “Grass Saver” by NaturVet. Unfortunately, even though it’s made of the same vitamins and additives found in most dog foods, altering the ph level of your dog’s urine can lead to serious and life threatening consequences.

It’s a far better idea to treat the grass, rather than the dog when trying to avoid the urine burns on your grass.

Frequent watering, or, even better, soaking the grass the grass after your dog has eliminated, will help prevent the burn spots from appearing by watering down the nitrogen from urine.

Can I repair the grass that is already burnt?
Small areas will often regenerate on their own over time, but in areas with a short growing season, this could take the equivalent of entire summer.

Re-seeding the grass after it has been burnt can be done, but be sure to water the area down well, before and after reseeding, and consider covering it with netting, or a clear lastic sheet to prevent the birds from making off with your seed.

Another great idea, if you’d prefer to not have to repair the problems all summer long, is a designated bathroom area. In fact, I’ll be using this one as soon as we lay the gravel.

You can keep a small, gravelled area, or a cement block, or plain dirt, or even dead grass, and train your dog to go there, and only there. As you may have thought, gravel or loose sand or dirt is best for this. When it’s time for her (or him) to go, take her outside, on a leash, and lead her over to her new bathroom. When she stops to urinate (you may need to stand there for a while, especially if it’s a surface she’s not used to), praise her loudly and excitedly for going in the correct spot.

If she stops to go in an area you are trying to keep green, distract her immediately, issue the “NO”, and lead her to the new spot. This does mean you’ll have to escort her out for quite a few days, complete with treats and praise for going where she should, until she gets the idea. Just make sure the area is large enough to accomadate shifting, and keep clean so she isn’t tempted to wander off to cleaner pastures.
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