Although we love our dogs, we do not always love the side effects to owning one. Case in point: brown “burn” spots on the lawn caused by our dog’s urine. They make the yard unsightly and seem just about impossible to get rid of. If you have multiple dogs, you can quickly find yourself with a dead lawn.
Why Does Dog Urine Turn Grass Brown?
Of course, not all dog’s urine does this, which just adds to the mystery dog owners.
Denise Petryk, DVM, Trupanion’s Director of Veterinary Services, has some advice on what pet owners can do to protect their lawn and keep their pet healthy and happy.
“The lawn turns brown primarily because of the nitrogen content in a dog’s urine,” explains Dr. Petryk.
So, if your dog has a high nitrogen content in his urine, he is going to turn your grass brown. Where does the nitrogen come from? According to Vetinfo.com, “Dog urine regularly contains high levels of nitrogen because of the protein they eat. The more protein your dog eats, the higher the nitrogen levels in the urine.”
DO NOT switch your dog’s food to a low quality, low protein food just to save your lawn. There are other ways that will not compromise your dog’s health.
DO NOT put fertilizer on your burned lawn to try and bring it back. Fertilizer’s are also high in nitrogen, so you will just speed up the killing.
How to Prevent Brown Spots
“The safest approach to stopping those brown spots is to focus on the lawn and give it all the TLC it needs to be resistant to the urine. Focus on the soil pH levels, a watering schedule, aeration, fertilizers, and the type of grass you have,” suggests Dr. Petryk.
Dr. Petryk also provides the following tips to help prevent the brown spots:
- Use a leash to control where your dog urinates
- Water the lawn right after your dog urinates to dilute the nitrogen on the grass
- Dilute your dog’s urine by encouraging them to drink more water. You can use ice cubes, very dilute juices, diluted coconut water, or watered down food. However, the more your dog drinks, the more it will have to urinate, so beware of accidents in the house!
- Try a different high quality dog food. Sometimes this helps, as it might alter the pH or nitrogen content of the dog’s urine. Talk to your veterinarian about which diet could be best for your dog.
NaturalLawn of America, makers of safe and effective, organic-based lawn care since 1987, deals with dog spots all of the time with their lawn care clients.
Bryan Kratz says the one sure-fire way to prevent the spots is to “train your dog to pee somewhere else. If you create a patch of area out of gravel or mulch in your backyard for your dog to urinate and train them to pee there you will be able to prevent any future dog spot issues in the lawn.”
Like Dr. Petryk, recommends immediately diluting the area with water. Also, he cautions pet owners about products on the market that claim to fix the issue by either changing the dog’s diet or by applying the product to the lawn itself.
“Please, keep in mind the damage these products can cause to your pet; puppy paws absorb everything they step on, so what’s more important to you? The health of your dog or a few brown spots in the lawn?” he asks
There is one product on the market that is all-natural and does not involve chemicals of any way: Dog Rocks.
Carina Evans, CEO of Dog Rocks, explains how this naturally occurring rock works:
Originally discovered by an Aboriginal gardener, Dog Rocks®are 100 percent natural rocks mined from a deep Australian quarry. To use this one-of-a-kind product, just drop a few rocks in your dog’s drinking bowl and it filters out impurities such as nitrates, which is the cause of lawn burns. Laboratory testing proves this product is safe for dogs. While Dog Rocks can’t reverse the damage already done to the lawn, one bag will safely prevent new urine burn patches from appearing for two months.
Check them out at http://www.dogrockscanada.ca
Removing the Spots
There is no real way to remove the spots once they are there. In fact, as mentioned above, trying to use a fertilizer to get your grass to grow back will actually make it worse. It is best to just wait until the grass comes back on its own. In the meantime, try to not let your dog go in the same place, which will just continue to burn the grass, making it impossible for it to grow back.
About the Author
Based in Wilsonville, Ore., animal lover Kristina N. Lotz is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) and works as a full time trainer. She is the founder of, A Fairytail House, a unique all-positive all-sport dog training facility that helps rescue dogs in her area and provides free seminars and training classes for the community. In her spare time, she trains and competes in herding, agility, obedience, rally, and conformation with her Shetland Sheepdogs. She smartly married a Veterinary Technician, who helps keep the fur kids happy and healthy, and provides a quick resource for articles.