Dog Urine and Lawns

burnt by dog urine

Why does dog urine kill the grass?

The first thing to know is that dog pee killing grass is completely natural. Because dogs naturally have nitrogen in their pee from the normal breakdown of proteins, when it hits the grass it can ‘burn’ the area they pee on. A common misconception is that the grass is damaged because of the pH (acidity) of the urine, but this is not true. The burn is due to high Nitrogen content in the dogs urine.  Another misunderstanding is that it's only bitches urine that kills the grass.  This is not so, the difference is bitches squat and therefore their urine is concentrated in that one area, where as males tend to spray here and there to mark territory and so not concentrating all their urine in the one area at the one time.

What can be done to stop the grass getting burnt by urine?

Although it’s hard to stop your dog’s pee harming your lawn completely, there are a couple of things you can try so it doesn’t have as big an impact:

  • Water it down. When your dog pees on the grass, try to water it down as soon as they finish with a watering can or hose. This will help to dilute your dog’s pee and lessen the effects.
  • Train them. You could use positive, reward-based training to teach your dog to pee in one specific spot. This means rewarding them when they go where you want them to, but ignoring it if they go anywhere else (you’ll probably want to water down these accidents!). Never punish your dog for peeing in the ‘wrong’ place as this could put them off peeing outside altogether!
  • Consider getting a ‘pee post’. Some pet shops will sell posts you can stick in the ground to encourage male dogs to pee against them.
  • Provide more water. It’s important anyway to always provide your dog with clean, fresh water and the better hydrated they are, the more watered down their pee will be naturally! You could also try adding water to their food, or feeding them a canned food that will dilute their pee further (though this may result in them needing to pee a lot more!)
  • Take care of your lawn. Regularly watering and feeding your lawns (with something pet-safe!) will help to keep it in tip-top condition and mean that repairing pee damage from your dog is easier to do.
  • Walking first thing. To minimise the damage to your lawn, you might want to take your dog for a short walk first thing in the morning so they can pee elsewhere. 

Some people also section off their garden to make a designated toilet area for their dog, but again you’ll need to train your dog to use this area.

Is there a variety of grass that withstands dog urine?

Unfortunately the answer to this is NO.  There may be grass seed out there that promotes its ability to be resistant to dog urine, we can reassure you, there is definitely no grass that won't suffer due to dog urine.

What can help is sowing a mix with rye grass and fescues in it. Rye grass is hard wearing and fast growing so it can recover quickly.  Fescues create a thick mat lawn and their roots spread out holding the topsoil together.  Our Dollar Green mix is our hard wearing family lawn.  It is predominately rye grass and has a high percentage of fescues making it a quick growing/recovery option for your lawn.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us on 01259 760400.