For many of us, a pet dog running around on a beautiful backyard lawn is the Australian dream. However, dogs can cause some challenges with your lawn, not least of all the nasty urine stains they can leave.
So what can be done about these unsightly marks? Well, before we talk solutions, let’s start with the basics of why this problem occurs.
Why does dog urine burn my turf?
Dogs are carnivores and require a high amount of protein in their diets. When this protein is metabolised, it produces nitrogen compounds as a byproduct, which are then excreted in urine. And while nitrogen is great for your lawn in the right quantities, in excess it causes grass to burn.
How can I prevent urine stains?
There are a few products out there that claim to reduce urine staining, but none are proven. Some products even claim to reduce staining by changing the urine pH, but as we know, it’s not acidity or alkalinity that causes the staining – it’s the nitrogen.
Preventing urine stains therefore comes down to reducing the concentration of nitrogen compounds in your dog’s urine. Let’s take a look at a few strategies to do this.
Encourage more water intake.
If your dog drinks more water, it will dilute the urine so that the concentration of nitrogen is reduced. But how do you make them drink more? It’s actually quite easy! Here are a few ideas.
Use leftover chicken or beef stock in your pet’s water bowl instead of plain water to encourage them to drink more.
Wet down your dog’s dry food so that they naturally consume more water. (But make sure they are still getting some kind of dry dental food or treats to take care of their teeth.)
Drop a few treats into your pet’s water bowl a couple of times a day.
Try a different diet.
Nitrogen compounds are a byproduct of protein metabolism, so reducing the protein content of the diet can reduce urine staining. Bring your dog’s food bag into the vet clinic and ask whether there is an alternative, lower-protein diet available that would be suitable for your dog.
Even if there’s not an appropriate lower-protein diet, anecdotal evidence suggests that some diets seem more prone to causing grass burn than others. Maybe it’s worth switching to a different brand just to see what results you get! Remember that whenever you change your dog’s food, it’s important to transition gradually over a few days.
Water the affected areas.
If you know there are certain areas of your lawn that are commonly affected by urine staining, water them down thoroughly once or twice a day to dilute the urine. It may also help to aerate the lawn so that the urine can drain deeper rather than accumulating around the roots.
Train your dog to urinate in a litter box.
Just like cats, dogs can be trained to use a litter box. There are several kinds on the market, including large, artificial grass-lined trays that offer a simple, attractive alternative to allowing your dog to urinate on the lawn. Training your dog while it is still a puppy is easiest, but contrary to the old adage, old dogs can learn new tricks too! It just takes a bit of extra time and effort to unlearn those old habits.
If you need further advice about pet urine stains or any other lawn challenges you might be facing, please contact our friendly staff on (03) 9730 1128.