Dog pee kills grass



OK, I’d heard this so many times that I believed it: Female dog urine kills the grass and male dog urine does not. I actually thought about this today and realized this is absolutely ridiculous. So I decided to do some research and see whether this is true or not. Someone has to stand up for the lady dogs.

All I knew before looking into this further is I grew up with female dogs, and they turned our grass yellow wherever they went to the bathroom. I don’t know about Ace, who is a male, because I live in an apartment and walk him in areas where 20 other dogs go to the bathroom. Yeah, that grass takes a beating.

So, I know dog urine can turn grass yellow, but is it really only the female dogs at fault?

Do male dogs kill the grass or just females?

I came across the research of Dr. Steve Thompson, DVM, of Purdue University. Thompson said it is the high amounts of nitrogen in a dog’s urine that cause the grass to turn yellow. Because of dogs’ high-protein diets, their bodies naturally use a lot of nitrogen to digest their food. So much nitrogen on the lawn in one spot is what kills the grass, he said.

I’d often heard that a female dog’s pH level is different than a male’s, and that is what kills the grass. Not true. The nitrogen levels have nothing to do with a dog’s pH level, Thompson said.

According to Thompson, female dogs often kill more grass than the males because male dogs usually urinate a little in many areas. Females tend to squat in one place (unless you are a male mutt named Ace who squats like a girl). All of that nitrogen in a small area is what kills the grass. The males, on the other hand, are more likely to kill off bushes because they will continually “mark” certain spots again and again over several weeks.

Who knew?

One way to stop a dog from killing off your grass is to train her to go to the bathroom in one small area of your yard, maybe a corner in the backyard. A lot of dogs choose to go to the bathroom in one area on their own, but it might not be an area you want them to use. Others will just go anywhere and everywhere.

You can train a dog to go in one area by using a similar concept to housetraining a dog. Walk her on a leash to that designated area every time she goes outside. Then reward her when she goes to the bathroom in the right area. This will take a lot of time and consistency for a few weeks, but the dog will eventually get into the habit of going in that corner.

I have also heard of people actually pouring water over the patches of grass right after their dogs pee. This probably works, but seems a little crazy and obsessive to me. I don’t know about you, but I am not going to follow my dog around with a bucket and pour water over the grass after he pees. If I actually had a yard of my own, I think I could deal with a few yellow spots.

What about you? Has dog urine destroyed your lawn?

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  1. chris on June 17, 2008

    I have 2 female dogs, but don’t notice any dead grass, so it’s either because they are small dogs, or they spread the wealth around the yard. My Rosie has decided only to dump her load in my ground cover area along the fence- I tell everyone I trained her to do that so I don’t have to pick up her poop in the yard – hee hee!

    chris’s last blog post..Free blogging service and community

  2. Lindsay Stordahl Author on June 17, 2008

    I’m sure it helps that they are small dogs.

  3. Apryl DeLancey on June 17, 2008

    I can’t stop laughing at the picture…

    Apryl DeLancey’s last blog post..Top Ten Phil Jackson Quotes

  4. castocreations on June 17, 2008

    Okay missy…did you pick that photo on purpose. I am ROLLING. Hilarious. You couldn’t find a Kerry sign? *giggle* Our dogs liked to pee on the Kerry signs. It was hilarious.

    Anyway…our back yard is spotted. Seriously. We don’t even worry about the dog pee. Grass is overrated. LOL But I do try to not let any of them pee on other people’s yards when we walk. I don’t care about our yard but I know other people DO care. :)

    castocreations’s last blog post..Pet Adoption Month

  5. jan on June 17, 2008

    My grass or whatever it is grows in spite of it all. One female dog pees, the next one pees over it, the alpha pees over both and the stud muffin lifts his leg over all three.

    jan’s last blog post..Back from the dead, dog cloning

  6. Leigh on June 17, 2008

    That picture is priceless! What a smart doggy. ;)

    Leigh’s last blog post..Traveling and Migrating, but Not at the Same Time

  7. Lora on June 18, 2008

    I havent noticed any grass spots at my house. Either of them in fact. My boys were all neutered young, so they squat like girls too, so Ace is not alone.

    Lora’s last blog post..My latest collar fix!

  8. Dog Tent on June 19, 2008

    nice picture.. hope shes a girl.. lol..

  9. abbey on June 19, 2008

    There was a thing in Australia, that half filled (water) plastic bottles placed on the lawns stopped dogs peeing there…neighbourhoods were littered with the things.. anyway the whole thing was false….

    Not sure bout Chels pee…I’ll be happy when shes finally toilet trained…sigh. but do no one thing…with a Dane there is a lot of it…

    abbey’s last blog post..Snow

  10. Bonnie Story on June 19, 2008

    I used to watch a guy watch his Bichon Frise. He carried a sport-top water bottle and would squirt down wherever the dog peed. It was a female dog, but she lifted a hind leg when squat-peeing, like Pepper does – in case anyone is looking I guess! My old dog-walking buddy had a homeowner association so uptight that they actually had a rule about “Thou Shalt Not Let Thy Dog Pee on Any Lawn, Even On Thine Own Lawn” – can you believe that? Sheesh.

    Bonnie Story’s last blog post..My Garden Helper

  11. K9 Amiga on June 19, 2008

    sheesh, what vast obscurity.
    i have dirt and gravel and a small garden the mutt is forbidden from ( i don’t want to know what his urine will do to my tomatoes!)

    but he recently stopped squatting and started lifting his leg, i think his friend chuy taught him

    K9 Amiga’s last blog post..No Place like Home

  12. mulder bunnychaser on July 7, 2010

    Lawns that are already high in nitrogen are more susceptible to burning. Other factors that indicate an already stressed lawn may also apply – less thatch, drier soils, thinner root stock, competing with tree roots, etc. I agree with the two methods suggested, where feasible. (1) Spend a few weeks to habituate peeing in one place. (2) Liberally apply water with a watering can or a hose.

  13. Lindsay Stordahl Author on July 7, 2010

    Thanks for the info! I try to walk my dog as often as possible rather than take him out to relieve himself in the backyard so many times per day. Easier on the grass and an excuse to get some exercise.

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