If your dog uses your lawn to urinate, your grass may start to develop yellow or brown patches, known as urine burn. It doesn't matter how well you mow, fertilise and aerate your lawn, these patches may become unsightly, especially if your dog repeatedly uses the same areas of the lawn as its toilet. Changing your dog's diet, or adding supplements to it, may be one way to fix the problem, leaving you with a lusher, greener lawn.
What Is Urine Burn?
Your dog's kidneys convert unused proteins from its food into nitrogen, which is added to urine waste. Although small amounts of nitrogen are good for grass, concentrated amounts may not be so good, turning grass brown or yellow. This may become a problem if your dog eats too much protein, or if it finds the proteins in its food hard to digest.
Tip: If you allow your dog to urinate on your lawn, and you also use a nitrogen-based fertilizer, you may be overloading your grass with two sources of nitrogen. Stop using the fertiliser first, and see if that solves the problem.
Discuss Your Dog's Diet With Your Vet
It's important to discuss the problem with your vet before you significantly change your dog's diet. Although excess protein may be a problem, you shouldn't diagnose this for yourself. Your vet will be able to assess if your dog is eating a balanced diet for its needs that contains appropriate amounts and types of protein. According to the Pet Food Industry Association of Australia, not all dogs have the same nutritional needs, and the age and life stage of your dog affects how much protein it should be eating.
Bear in mind that dogs find some proteins harder to digest than others, and your vet may suggest that you tweak your pet's diet. For example, you may be advised to switch to a more balanced dog food, to mix wet food with dry, or to add homemade food to some meals. Your vet may also recommend adding supplements that can help control nitrogen waste in urine to your dog's food or water.
Other Ways to Deal With Urine Burn
If your vet thinks that your dog's diet is fine, you may need to look at other ways to manage urine burns on your lawn. You may find it useful to try the following tips:
- Set out an area of your garden for a dog toilet. You'll need to train your dog to use it, which may take some time and patience, but this will make your lawn look better.
- Wash down your lawn with water after your dog urinates. This helps make the nitrogen less concentrated and may reduce the number of burn marks on your grass.
- Add a hardier grass, such as clover, to areas of your lawn where your dog regularly urinates. Clover is less susceptible to nitrogen than grass, and is more likely to stay green, making your lawn look less unsightly.
For more information, talk to a representative in the lawn supplies section of your local garden center.