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Why Does Dog Urine Stain Grass?

Picture of a Chihuahua lying on the lawn

Many people tend to think that the acid in a pooch’s pee is the urine component that stains or burns grass. But the truth is that it’s not acid at all — it’s nitrogen. Dog pee is capable of killing grass, especially in some situations, and especially if your dog is a female. 

In this post, we’ll look at what you can do to prevent this mishap, whether female dogs stain grass more than male dogs do, and the solutions you have available if you want to avoid this in the future or fix the problem after your grass has been burned by dog pee.

Male vs. Female – Which pee is worse? 

First of all, both male and female dogs have the same nitrogen concentration in their pee, although there can be variations based on what the pet consumes. In general, however, there is no chemical difference between male and female pee.

But the detail that does make the difference in terms of how female dog pee stains grass is the position that she adapts when tending to her business. Male dogs have a higher likelihood of peeing in several spots, so the overall quantity of the urine that they release in just one area is smaller. 

Female dogs, on the other hand, will squat to urinate, which means that they effectively deposit more urine in just one spot. That doesn’t mean that male dog pee can’t stain or kill grass — it sure can, but this will happen in smaller patches across a yard. 

Is there grass that doesn’t get stained as easily?

There are some varieties that are considerably more resistant to the nitrogen in dog urine, and they are fescue and perennial ryegrass. In some cases, if you water your lawn or yard consistently and every day, you might be able to water down the urine. 

These species can actually thrive thanks to diluted pet urine because nitrogen is, in essence, a fertilizer. 

Choose a location

If you leave your dog to roam in your backyard, you have little to no control over where he or she might go to the bathroom. Many have tried to teach their dogs to ‘go’ in one specific spot, and this can be done with a lot of patience and training, but it takes a lot of time.

If, on the other hand, you oversee the time that your dog spends outdoors, you can do this more easily. You can even guide your Fido to an area where there is no grass or a part in your yard where the burns might not be as visible. Your dog isn’t going to love peeing on concrete, but this could be a possible solution. 

If your canine friend has marked his or her territory enough, it’s likely that he/she will go in the same place or just generally prefer it to others. 

Change your pet’s diet

The nitrogen in a dog’s urine is the result of protein being broken down inside his or her body. In theory, if you feed your dog less protein, the resulting pee will be less concentrated. However, we would not recommend doing so as dogs need a healthy amount of protein to remain healthy. It’s a necessary component of their diet.

But there is something that you can do. You can try to make your dog drink more water. While most dogs will only drink water when they are thirsty, they do have higher appetites for it than cats or other animals. Giving your dog bone broth instead of water might be a good idea, since it’s tasty and also a little fat, so it will naturally appeal to your pet. 

Another way of introducing more ‘water’ in your dog’s diet would be to feed canned food instead of kibble. Plus, it’s better to choose a higher quality dog food that doesn’t exceed the daily recommended amount of protein. 

Supplements

In the past several years, grass-saving supplements for dogs have become more or less popular with some pet parents. We recommend against giving your dog a supplement, even if it can be bought over the counter, for the purpose of saving the grass on your lawn. 

There are two main ways in which the supplements can ‘solve’ the issue – either through their salt content or by changing the pH of your dog’s urine. We’ve already noted that grass burns are caused not by the acidic pH of dog pee, but by its nitrogen content. Therefore, the pH-modifying capabilities of the supplements aren’t actually capable of doing anything for your lawn. They might, however, cause some urinary problems for your dog. 

We have written an extensive article on how too much salt can cause potentially life-threatening problems for your canine friend, so this option is incorrect and harmful. It’s true that with a saltier diet, the dog will drink more water, so his or her urine will be more diluted. But given the negative effects that salt can have on your pooch’s body, it’s not a risk worth taking. 

Any other solutions?

Some say that pouring tomato juice on the area where your dog just peed might neutralize the nitrates in his or her urine. This is just not true. There are plenty of products that you can add to your lawn, though, and gypsum pellets are an example. 

But in the end, watering your lawn as frequently as possible is the best choice, along with making your dog drink more water and feeding him/her a slightly lower-protein diet. 

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