Everyone loves having a lush, green lawn, but sometimes doggo ownership makes achieving that a wee bit harder. Especially because as cute as our puppers are, their pee can be a downright grass assassin.
But don’t worry! There are things you can do to help protect your yard from these kinds of pee-pee problems!
Below, we’ll chat about how to treat dog urine spots on grass and discuss ways to keep your lawn looking its best.
How to Fix Dog Urine Spots: Key Takeaways
- Dog urine contains a lot of nitrogen. And while appropriate quantities of nitrogen are good for grass, too much nitrogen will cause the grass to turn brown and die.
- There are a number of ways you can help protect your lawn, including hosing it down after your pup tinkles, increasing the amount of water your dog drinks, and encouraging your dog to pee elsewhere, among other things.
- If your dog has created a dead spot on your lawn, you can fix it by removing the damaged grass, applying some limestone, and then re-seeding the area.
- There are a few products we’ll share that have helped some owners protect their grass from urine-caused lawn damage. None are perfect, but they may be worth trying.
Why Does Dog Urine Kill Grass?
Most people assume that urine kills grass because of its low pH level, but that’s actually not the case. The truth is a little more complicated, and you have to examine the chemical makeup of dog urine to get the full story.
Looking at the main components of dog urine, you’ll find urea — basically an ammonia-rich byproduct created when your dog metabolizes proteins.
Because dogs are carnivorous, their urea is full of nitrogen.
While nitrogen is important for a plant’s growth, too much nitrogen will harm the plant and eventually kill it. This causes the patches of brown you may notice on your lawn.
If you examine a brown patch, you may notice a bright green halo where the perimeter seems healthier than the rest of the lawn. This is because the grass absorbed some of the beneficial nitrogen but not enough to cause plant death.
Another common misconception is that only female dog pee kills grass, which also isn’t true. This concept is due to the fact that females squat to do their business, causing a more concentrated deposit of urine in one area, therefore upping the risk of grass damage.
In other words, it’s the way your doggo unleashes a tinkle torrent that harms the grass — it has nothing to do with the urine coming from a male or female dog. Plus, many males squat to relieve themselves too!
How Do You Prevent Lawn Damage from Dog Urine?
Luckily, you can reduce or even prevent urine damage to your lawn by following a few steps, including:
- Hose it down: Spray the soiled area down with water as soon as your dog does his business. This helps dilute the nitrogen, which avoids the overload that damages grass. Applying three times as much water as there is urine within 12 hours is a good rule of thumb to follow.
- Hydrate your hound: A properly hydrated pooch will have less concentrated urine, which will cause less lawn damage. Encourage your doggo to drink up with cool, fresh water or a dog water fountain to help keep your lawn and pupper happy and healthy.
- Try wet food: Feeding your pup wet food can help reduce lawn damage because it ups your dog’s water consumption, but this isn’t always a surefire solution. For one, your pooch may just drink less water in turn, eliminating the benefit. Just monitor your dog’s urine to see if it’s working — the clearer his urine is, the more hydrated he is.
- Check your dog’s food: High-protein dog foods increase the nitrogen content in your dog’s urine, increasing the risk of lawn damage. If your pup doesn’t require a high-protein diet, you might want to consider switching. Talk to your vet first and make sure any switch is gradual to avoid stomach issues.
- Skip the snake oil: There are a lot of dog supplements out there claiming to miraculously save your lawn from pee spots, and the truth is, they’re sadly full of stuffing. Some are actually full of salt, too, which can aggravate canine conditions like heart or kidney disease. These products don’t work and can cause a major headache (or heartache) down the road.
- Urine sample test: If you notice ongoing brown spots or a sudden uptick in lawn discoloration, take your dog into the vet for a urine test. Your pup may have an abnormality (like a canine UTI) that’s throwing off his urine makeup and causing the problem.
- Raise the bar: On your lawn mower, that is. Raise your mower’s level to leave your grass a little longer when cut. This puts less stress on the grass and can reduce the appearance of browning.
- Regular lawn care: A healthy lawn can handle more wear and tear. It’ll also grow back better if and when you do run into hiccups. Remember that extreme temperatures are rough on grass, which is why you’re more likely to see urine issues in the summer when your lawn is broiling in the sun. Keep it watered well, and your lawn will be better equipped to deal with some damage.
- Opt for dog-friendly grass: Stick to dog-friendly grass types that can withstand life with doggos. They’re not as sensitive as some varieties and can handle a little tinkle.
- Set up potty boundaries: Establish a pee-friendly zone in your yard on a surface that isn’t grass, like gravel or soil. Train your dog to pee and poo in that specific spot instead of the lawn. This eliminates the risk to your grass entirely, and if your dog does his poo patrol here too, it can make yard clean up way easier.
- Sacrafice a curb spot. If you don’t have a dog yourself but are eager to prevent neighbors’ dogs from peeing on your grass, you can set up a doggie potty spot that’s closer to the curb to draw attention away from your lush lawn.
How to Repair Urine Spots on Lawns
Despite our best efforts, your dog may still like to tinkle on the grass. And this means urine marks on your lawn can happen from time to time.
But don’t worry!
With a bit of elbow grease and some common lawn-care supplies, it’s possible to salvage your grass’s good looks.
Just follow these relatively easy steps:
- Rake over the damaged area to remove as much of the dead grass and debris as possible.
- Apply a thin layer of ground limestone over the affected area and water it thoroughly. This helps improve grass growing conditions.
- Let this coating sit for a week, keeping your curious canine away while the lime does its magic.
- Apply a thin layer of topsoil to the affected area.
- Lay grass seed over the patch, using the existing grass type to achieve a seamless look
- Water the area and repeat daily for one to three weeks, depending on the grass type and climate. If it rains, skip watering that day to avoid washing away the grass seed or over-watering.
- During the growing process, keep your dog away from the area. New grass is delicate, and your doggo can destroy weeks of growth with a wayward paw.
Other Lawn Repair Hacks
There are a few products available that can help your lawn stand up to pupper piddle, whether they encourage pottying in one place or try to bulk up your lawn’s strength.
Results are mixed across the board, but you never know if they may help.
1. PetiGreen Dog Urine Damage Prevention
About: PetiGreen’s Dog Urine Damage Prevention Solution combats pee damage by fortifying your lawn’s health with a natural, pet-friendly formula. Apply every six weeks for best results.
- Bottle attaches to the end of your hose for easy application
- Every 16-ounce bottle covers up to 4500 square feet
- Creates a healthier, greener lawn over time
- Pee mark prevention seen after 4 to 6 months of use per the manufacturer
Ease of application wins a tail wag of approval since you can hook the bottle onto your hose to treat a large area quickly. It helps your grass grow stronger, too, which can help with other wear and tear effects of doggo life, like damage caused by daily squirrel chasing.
This can be pricey if you have a large area to treat. It also takes time to work, which isn’t the best solution if you need a quick fix for an upcoming event.
2. Dog Rocks
About: Dog Rocks are mined rocks that you place in your dog’s water dish that claim to remove nitrates from drinking water. By stripping nitrates, they reduce the amount in your doggo’s urine, saving your lawn in theory.
Designed to be placed inside your dog’s water bowl, the manufacturer explains that the minerals in these rocks help prevent dead lawn spots when your dog tinkles.
- Manufacturer states they’re safe for all pets, making them ideal for multi-species households where dogs and cats share a common water bowl
- A natural and chemical-free product
- Just rinse the product, fill your doggo’s bowl with at least two liters of water, and insert the rock
- Last up to 10 months before they should be replaced, per the manufacturer
These are very much a set and forget it type product, which is ideal if you don’t have time to fuss with lawn upkeep. They’re also a good choice if you’re dealing with a public grass area that you can’t treat, like an apartment complex.
3. Simple Solution Pee Post
About: The Simple Solution Pee Post is a yard stake designed to entice your pooch to urinate on it rather than your grass, saving your lawn (and lawn gnomes!) Just tap into the ground, let your dog sniff, and let him do the rest.
- Made with a non-toxic pheromone that encourages your dog to mark the post
- Can help with guiding your pup to potty in one area of the yard
- Bright yellow design makes it easy to spot
- Great option for leg lifters
For doggos that tinkle everywhere but where they’re supposed to, this can be a game changer for corralling the problem. If your dog catches on and sticks with it, it can help you reclaim your lawn from wayward pee spots.
Results are mixed with pup parents, with some pooches straight up ignoring the post altogether. This product also seems to only be an option for males that lift their legs, as squatting dogs seem less likely to piddle on the exact location of the post.
What If Your Dog Is Causing GREEN Spots to Form?
Yes, this can happen too, and it’s a sign of something being off, but this time, it’s the ground’s fault.
Usually, green urine spots are caused by a lack of nitrogen in the soil. Therefore, your doggo’s urine is actually fertilizing the lawn rather than harming it.
If you notice these green spots, collect a soil sample and have it tested to be sure. Usually all you need is a pet-safe fertilizer to correct the issue.
Dog Urine Spot FAQs
Since it’s such a common problem, there are a lot of questions and sketchy remedies floating around surrounding dog urine spots.
Let’s run through the top ones together to separate fact from fiction.
Is there a dog food that will help prevent dead spots?
Nope. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a single brand of food alone can’t prevent dead spots.
You can potentially adjust the nitrate content in your pooch’s urine by making a dietary switch to a lower as we mentioned above.
Usually the best dog food to prevent lawn burn is a traditional kibble rather than a high-protein formula.
Will baking soda neutralize dog urine on grass?
No. Baking soda doesn’t neutralize the nitrogen (which is the cause of the grass stain problem).
Since baking soda contains salt, it might actually lead to unrelated grass damage, too. We’d steer clear, partner.
Will gypsum neutralize dog urine on grass?
Sorry, no. Like baking soda, gypsum contains salt, which can cause additional lawn trouble rather than neutralize dog urine grass damage.
Will soap neutralize dog urine on grass?
Probably not. In theory, soap can help water move through the soil more efficiently, but the chemicals in your soap can cause additional damage to grass.
Will grass grow back after dog urine?
Sometimes. This depends on your grass’s health and rainfall in the area. A healthy lawn is more resilient, as we mentioned, and ongoing rain can help rid the soil of excess nitrates.
Do male dogs cause lawn spots?
Yes. Females usually get the blame because of their peeing stance, but a squatting male can cause the same damage.
Leg lifters certainly can too, but there is a chance that a sprayer or light tinkler won’t cause damage to your lawn – in fact, the small, dispersed amount of nitrogen could be good for the grass.
Do some breeds cause more lawn spots than others?
Nope — at least not directly. Chihuahua urine is chemically similar to Great Dane urine.
But size can be a factor though, as large dogs produce more urine, increasing your risk of lawn damage.
Will supplements prevent my dog from making lawn spots?
No. Dogs are carnivores and all have nitrates in their urine. A magic pill doesn’t change this. It can introduce all sorts of headaches if it contains questionable ingredients that can aggravate existing canine health conditions.
Never give your dog a strange supplement without contacting your vet first.
Dog urine spots can certainly be frustrating to see on your otherwise-glorious lawn, but there are a few things you can do.
And while there are a few products that may help, it turns out simply encouraging your dog to drink lots of water and pee in specific places will probably help more than anything else.
Have you tried any of these dog urine remedies on your lawn? Do you do something else? Let us know in the comments!