Does Dog Pee Kill Grass?

A wondering dog sitting on the backyard lawn.

If you love dogs but also love having a lush, green lawn, you may have a problem. Dog owners who have a yard that doubles as their dog’s bathroom may notice problems with their lawn. Often dog owners will see brown or yellow grass circles in their lawn with a ring of dark green grass around the outside. Dog urine killing grass can impact the beauty of your lawn, but what causes this issue? Here are the facts regarding dog pee and how it affects your lawn and grass.

Dog urine spots in grass are a common problem, but not all dog owners experience this issue. There may have been myths that only certain breeds or females have urine that will kill grass, but that is not true. If any dog urinates heavily in one spot, it can harm the grass and result in a dead spot on your lawn. Some of the factors that determine whether your dog’s pee will kill your grass include:

  • Size of the dog/amount of urine released at one time
  • How the dog urinates – squatting in one place versus multiple places will cause more damage
  • How often your grass is watered
  • Your dog’s urine concentration

Male dogs can cause urine spots on your lawn just as easily as female dogs. The difference is many males spread their pee in different places to mark their yard and often pee on bushes or items versus on the lawn. If a male dog squats to urinate like a female, they can also leave behind dead spots of grass.

Why Does Dog Pee Kill Grass?

The common dog urine spots of dead grass often have brown or yellow grass surrounded by a ring of green, tall grass. Why does dog pee seem to kill grass and stimulate growth at the same time? The answer is nitrogen. Grass needs nitrogen to flourish – it is one of key ingredients in fertilizer. However, too much of a good thing can be deadly in this case. Dog urine is high in nitrogen and salt; both can kill grass in high concentrations. The tall, green grass around the ring is the result of those blades getting just enough nitrogen to flourish.

There have been theories that changing a dog’s urine pH balance through nutrition or supplements can help minimize damage to grass. The problem is that canines require a diet high in protein, which will result in high nitrogen in urine. You may see supplements that claim to help change the urine pH balance in dogs to prevent yellow or brown spots, but these supplements are usually a waste of money. There are better solutions for preventing dead grass in your yard caused by dog pee.

Solutions for Dog Urine Spots on Your Lawn

Dog urine killing grass is a problem, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your dog and a beautiful lawn, too. There are two possible solutions. Either you need to control where your dog urinates, or you need to neutralize the urine to minimize damage to the grass. Here are some options to minimize yellow and brown spots on your lawn from dog pee.

Make Sure Your Dog Is Hydrated
High concentrations of salt and nitrogen in your dog’s urine could mean your dog needs more water. Make sure your dog has fresh, clean water available to keep them hydrated. This can dilute their urine and may minimize damage to the grass in your lawn.
Pee Training
Dogs can be taught to urinate in specific areas. Read up on training your dog to limit their bathroom activities to one area of the yard. This can keep your grass safe from damage and make it easier to clean up your yard from dog waste.
Walk the Dog
Take your dog for frequent walks, especially after they have been confined inside all day. They will eliminate the majority of their urine outside of the yard on their walks, protecting your lawn.
Water Your Lawn
What is the best solution for preventing dead grass from dog pee? Water! Hosing down a urine spot right away can flush away the high nitrogen and salt, dispersing it in the lawn. Watering regularly can help dissipate dog urine spots and protect the grass.
Fertilize Your Lawn
The flourishing grass rings around the dead spots are signs your grass is hungry for nitrogen. Make sure to fertilize your lawn to give it the nutrients like nitrogen it needs to thrive.

An owner with a dog sitting on grass.
Dog urine killing grass can be controlled and there are solutions to fix the problem. Use the above tips to stop future dog urine spots on your lawn. If you already have dead spots on your lawn from dog pee, talk to your local landscaper about ways to replace the dead grass and rejuvenate your lawn once you have the urine problem under control.