AWAY WITH PEE SPOTS
AWAY WITH PEE SPOTS
We do love our lawns and aspire to a lush carpet of green, but too often the reality is scattered brown spots in that green grass. Your dog is probably responsible for them, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some tips to manage those spots:
First, make sure it is your dog causing those dead patches, not something else. Pull up on the dead grass, and if the roots are still firmly attached, then it is probably from your dog. If the roots are not attached, something else is going on, and you will want to talk to a lawn care professional to determine if the cause is insects or lawn disease.
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Have you ever been fertilizing your lawn and accidentally spilled too much fertilizer on a spot? The resulting chemical “burn” from the nitrogen is exactly what is going on with brown pee spots. A canine diet is very high in protein, which will result in high levels of nitrogen in their waste, and you’ll be battling blemishes for as long as your dog uses the lawn to do its business.
One side note: there is an old wives tale that female dogs spot lawns worse than male dogs. Any dog that squats and empties their bladder all at one time will spot the lawn. Our male greyhound who retired due to a broken hock always peed squatting on one place, while a female hound we had at the same time loved to leave a few dribbles here and there and everywhere. She was definitely the Queen of the House, but that’s a story for another time… Guess which one made worse brown spots?
PREVENTION or MINIMIZATION
You can do some things to make this easier to live with, however. There is a saying "dilution is the solution to pollution," and that concept holds true in the case of urine scald on our once green lawns. The best way to help prevent brown spots is either by diluting the pee inside or outside the dog.
You can do that by encouraging your dog to drink more, either by adding some water to his food, or perhaps by adding some sodium-free broth to his water.
Alternately, outside you can follow your dog, flushing the fresh spot with water from a watering can or hose. This might not always be practical though if you do not accompany your dog at all times.
If you can train your dog to go somewhere other than the lawn, that would be ideal. Maybe you have or could make a rock or mulch covered area that could be dedicated to your dog’s business. You would have to train them by leash walking to there for a few days, and treat/lavish praise when they successfully potty in the designated area.
Various devices like a “Pee Post” or fire hydrant are sold to encourage your dog where to go, but they do not have rave reviews. You could give these things a try though: the few people who rate them highly say they work, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones.
There are also many supplements for sale advertising that they will stop the brown spots. Be wary of these products, however, as they either give your dog more salts or change the pH of the urine. Both of which are harmful to your dog long-term. Check with your veterinarian before trying one of these remedies.
Dog Rocks offer a natural lawn burn patch preventative. These naturally occurring paramagnetic igneous rocks are dropped in your dog’s water bowl to filter impurities such as tin, ammonia and nitrate that can cause brown grass spots. If your dog takes the rocks out of the bowl, you can put the rocks in a pitcher of water and refill the water bowl from the pitcher. They are sold online or at pet stores. They are not cheap, and last about a month. By that time, you will be able to tell if they make a difference for you. Again, the reviews are hit and miss.
HOW TO FIX DAMAGE THAT’S ALREADY DONE
- Rake out the dead grass, scratching up the soil a bit, and water the spot.
- Reseed with lawn patch products or DIY by mixing grass seed with potting soil (about 1:4).
- Water daily or until seeds are established.
If your problem is terrible and you have to replace your lawn, use a urine-resistant grass like a fescue or rye.
Keep your neighbor’s dog out of your yard. In addition to treating your dog (and your lawn), you will want to rule out your neighbor’s dog as a potential contributor to lawn burn. A fence can come in handy and possibly motion-activated sprinklers.
Dr. Becker of Mercola.com recommends applying compost to the soil to help balance the pH. About an inch in depth is ideal. You can rake compost over the top of the existing lawn and water in, but check a patch first to be sure your dog doesn’t want to eat the compost.
Since we will never be free from pee, I hope you can find a combination of ideas that will help you manage the situation without too much stress. Please share what has worked for you in the comments below.