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10 Neat Things About Dog Pee Damage To Lawns
by Shauna Dobbie
by Dorothy Dobbie

The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

May 8, 2011

1. Cause. The two components of dog pee that kill lawns are nitrogen and salts. It has nothing to do with pH.

2. Fixing early. If you see a dog peeing on your lawn, douse the area as soon as possible with water. Three times the amount (give it your best guess) within eight hours is recommended. If you see somebody allowing their dog to pee on your lawn, you might consider dousing them with water too!

3. Fixing later. If you don't know your lawn has been peed on until you see the damage, there is only so much you can do. Re-sodding the patch could be an immediate fix if the sod is a good match for your lawn. You can also seed over if there is a bare patch; you'll have to keep the seeded area continuously moist until it is established. Lime or gypsum, which balance out acidity, won't reverse the damage because the damage isn't caused by pH changes.

4. Gender. The urine of male dogs is as damaging to lawns as the urine of female dogs, but male dogs tend to mete out their pee in smaller amounts in order to mark more territory while females tend to squat and pee a bladderful in one spot. This is why owners of female dogs tend to suffer more turf damage than owners of male dogs.

5. Size. Obviously, small dogs produce less urine than big dogs. No correlation has been found between breed and damage other than that owing to size.

6. Supplements. Before you decide to give your dog any of the supplements advertised to prevent lawn burns, think about why your dog pees. Urine comes from the kidneys, which filter unusable materials from the blood. You want those unusable materials out of your dog's blood, right? Consult your vet before feeding your dear pet something that messes with biological processes.

7. Diet change. High nitrogen in pee can come from the dog's diet containing more protein than necessary. Many commercial dog foods have levels of protein meant for very young and active dogs. If you're dog isn't highly active, consider asking your vet what food would give an appropriate level of protein.

8. Drinking water. Dogs that drink more water will have more dilute urine. If you already give your dog all the fresh clean drinking water it likes, you might be able to increase water consumption by moistening dry food or switching to canned food. Adding salt to encourage more water intake could damage kidneys and will add more lawn-damaging salt to the urine anyway. You could try offering salt-free broth if you're desperate.

9. Repeated damage to the same spot. Dogs have their favourite spots. If your dog is the culprit, you should be able to train it to pee in an area that works for you if you're determined (and your dog is not so stubborn as my dachshund). If you don't know what dog it is, try sprinkling the area with dog kibble. Dogs tend not to go where they eat.

10. If all else may be time to put a scree garden in the affected area!

Visit us at and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter.

Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08 a.m.

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