Is dog pee killing your grass? Is your once lush, green backyard spotted with yellow or brown burn spots?
Is it possible to have a lush green lawn and have a dog?
We struggled with our dogs pee killing our grass for several years in our backyard. I’ve tried re-seeding several times but failed each year when I can’t keep the dogs off the new grass.
There is nothing more frustrating than repairing your damaged lawn and minutes later having your dog destroy it again.
Keep reading for the seven easy ways to stop your dog’s urine from destroying your lawn. And learn how to prevent your dogs from killing the grass over and over.
Why dog urine kills grass
Learning why dog pee kills grass is the first step in preventing your dog from killing your grass.
The level of nitrogen in your dog’s urine is what turns your grass brown. If your dog’s urine is high in nitrogen, then it will burn your grass.
Nitrogen happens to be one of the substances excreted when protein is broken down; the more protein your dog eats, the more nitrogen is released.
And the more nitrogen, the bigger chance your dog is killing your grass. That’s all the science I am going to get into.
But if your dog is on a high-protein diet, that is most likely the number one culprit.
Dog urine killing grass: male vs. female
It’s a myth that only female dogs cause yellow spots in your lawn. Both female and male dogs’ urine can kill the grass.
The misconception that female dogs are more likely to cause the yellow spots is because female dogs usually pee in one spot, versus a male dog lifts his leg and sprays a large area, making the concentration less.
If your female dogs’ urine is killing your grass, it’s not just because she is a girl. It’s more likely due to her high-protein food.
Real-life experience with dog pee killing our grass
We have three dogs: a 90 lb. male yellow lab, a 45 lb. male border collie, and 60 lbs. female mutt.
Our 90 lb. male dog pees a lot in one place! I know it’s gross, but it’s true. And, I know he was the one causing the spots in our backyard because each dog has their favorite spots to pee. And his spots are the ones turning the grass brown.
Both our dog’s diets were the same and high in protein.
It was surprising to learn it wasn’t our female causing the brown spots in the lawn. Until now, I always believed the myth about female dogs’ pee doing damage to the lawn.
In our case, it’s truly about the amount of Bears’ urine in one spot killing the grass. As you can see in the photo above, he doesn’t always lift his leg either.
We now live on 5 acres and while we still have damage on the grass from the dogs running and playing, we no longer have burn spots.
How to stop dog pee from killing your grass
Below are several home remedies to stop your dog’s urine from killing grass.
Training your dog to go potty in a specific area of the yard is the most fool-proof way to stop your dog from killing your grass.
Create a special potty area with mulch, rocks, or fake grass. You can even add a doggy fire hydrant to encourage your dog to potty in his spot.
Taking your dog for walks for potty breaks will also help. Make sure to know the dog walking etiquette rules.
2. Water your lawn
The most natural and safest solution to stop your dog’s pee from killing the grass… is one ingredient… WATER!
After your dog pees, saturate the area with water. This will help dilute the nitrogen and stop the brown spots from forming.
3. Water your dog
Encourage your dog to drink more water. Just like people, dogs need water. More water equals less nitrogen concentrated in their urine.
4. Reduce nitrogen in dog urine
Dogs are carnivores, they need protein, but is your dog food too high in protein?
Remember, nitrogen is what causes the burn spots in your lawn. Nitrogen is excreted when protein is broken down; the more protein your dog eats, the more nitrogen is released.
Find a high-quality dog food that has the right balance of protein and other nutrients he needs.
How much protein your dog needs is based on the individual dog. PetMD has a great article: Focusing on Protein in the Diet.
5. Lawn saver supplements
There are many products you can add to your dog’s food on the market that claim to stop your dog from making yellow spots on your lawn.
PetHonesty GrassGreen Soft Chews have the highest rating on Chewy with 4.5 stars.PetHonesty has the most natural ingredients of all the lawn saver products I’ve researched. So if you want to try grass saver pills, this is the one to use.
With that said, none of these products have been proven to be 100% effective. And I don’t like to add anything artificial to my dog’s food just to save my grass! I prefer the all-natural approaches above, prevention, water, and food.
NaturVet GrassSaver is another popular brand, but read the ingredients on the product label to see if grass saver pills are safe for dogs. The only ingredient that stands out to me as possibly not safe is Maltodextrins.
Always read labels before giving anything to your dog.
6. Fertilize your soil
A healthy lawn will resist damage from your dog and other issues and it all starts with your soil. Be aware that what you put on your lawn ends up in your dog’s body.
We stopped using chemicals on our lawn many years ago. We now only use natural products that are not harmful to my dogs, my family, and wildlife.
7. BONUS idea!
Creating an area of artificial grass could be a huge lawn saver. If you can train your dog to go pee only on the artificial grass, then you never have to worry about your grass again. What size DoggieLawn is right for you?
How to neutralize dog urine on grass
Testing your soil
For best results, you should test your soil to ensure you are neutralizing for the correct nutrients your lawn needs.
Here are several natural options that work best to neutralize the dog urine on your lawn:
See Spot Run
See Spot Run is a retail product that contains organic microbes that work on the soil to repair and prevent brown spots on your lawn.
Garden lime increases the PH in your soil, working as a de-acidifier. BHG explains in detail how to use garden lime on your lawn.
Will baking soda neutralize dog urine on grass?
Baking soda does NOT neutralize dog urine on grass. It can cause more damage to your lawn than your dog’s urine. In fact, baking soda can be used to naturally kill weeds.
Does tomato juice stop dog pee from killing grass?
Giving your dog tomato juice will NOT stop his pee from killing the grass. The myth is that tomato juice makes your dog more thirsty, in turn making them drink more water, reducing the nitrogen in the urine.
Here are 11 tips on to get your dog to drink more water.
Repairing urine burn spots in your grass
If your lawn has just a few small brown or yellow spots, simply water the area heavily and the spots will likely repair themselves over the season.
For large burn sports and extensive damage, you will need to reseed or resod these areas.
- Start by watering heavily to remove any nitrogen/salt residue
- Remove all dead grass with a rake
- Loosen the soil and add fresh soil if needed
- Add Scotts EZ Seed Dog Spot Repair
Scotts® claims their spot repair is a salt neutralizer formula that minimizes the effects of salts from dog urine and helps repair up to 100 dog spots in your lawn.
Admittedly, repairing the spots with seed can be difficult unless you keep your dog off that area for the entire season.
I’ve tried reseeding our lawn for three seasons and it never held up. We even tried sod and it held up for about a year or so, but our dog still had his favorite pee spots which slowly created brown spots again.
If you need a quick fix there is an array of green grass spray paints available online. It’s temporary, but great if you are having a party or selling your house.
Urine resistant grass
All live grasses are susceptible to urine burning. Artificial grass/turf is the way to go if you want a green lawn no matter where or how much your dog pees in the same spot.
Laying down turf in a large yard may not be the most economical solution, so I recommend creating a doggy area.
Depending on the size you want to turf, it could cost $100 up to thousands of dollars.
For smaller areas, I recommend Doggie Lawn. It is affordable, biodegradable, and easy to clean up.
A friend would put ketchup in Their pets food and it really helped!
I have several spots where I’ve planted Karl Foerster grass.
I’ve noticed some older plants are bare in the middle,
with the grasses growing around like a ring. My initial thought was perhaps an animal was using the
center as a shelter and its just beat down. Another thought was that I wasn’t trimming enough
in the spring and the older growth (3-6 in.) stalks which are almost like reeds have crowded the new growth.
I’ve had both male and female Rottweilers. Over the past 33 years I’ve had eight of them. Someone told me to use gypsum. You can pick it up at Home Depot etc. I have a huge yard so I put down approximately 30,000 ft.². One Passover is 15,000 ft.². I will water in the first 15,000 ft. Three days later I will put the other 15,000 feet down and water that in. I do this twice a year. And I do not have burn spots. The gypsum neutralizes the acid etc. in the urine. Are use the pelletized gypsum. If they have an area that they usually go in. Put down a little extra.
Wow thanks for the tip! I’m sure this will help someone struggling with their lawn right now.
Just the article I was looking for! We have just adopted a dog and started wondering why there are suddenly brown spots in the yard hahaha Thank you for sharing this.
Thanks for the article I have the problem no it comes from the dogs didn’t know exactly the science behind it now I do thank you I’m gonna try something to add onto the lawn that safe for the dogs because I water it constantly but with four dogs it’s difficult to keep up with it
you mentioned that food may be to high in protein, hence urine killing grass. What is normal amount protein?
There is no “normal”. Every dog food will be different. Feeding raw will be higher in protein.
I’ve used the Grass Saved bites and they don’t work. It’s a waste of money. I buy Blue grain free dog food and wondering if a different brand would help the situation.
Thanks for sharing your experience Tammy. A different food may have an effect. It’s worth a try! Remember, the higher the protein level in the dogs urine is what causes the yellowness. But protein is good for your dog, so you need to find the right balance.