Why Dog Urine Stain Lawns

Why Dog Urine Stain Lawns

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Why does dog urine stain your lawn yellow? This is a question many a dog owner would love to know the answer to in order to rectify it. There are many theories out there but most have been proven to be urban legends. (Article 1):
• Only female dogs cause dog spots – Not true
Female dogs squat when they urinate and therefore leave behind a large volume of concentrated urine in a small area. Some male dogs also squat and they cause the same damage.
• Yellow spots are more common with certain breeds of dogs – Not true
It has to do with the size of the dog more than its breed. The bigger the dog the more urine and the bigger the damage.
• Dog spots are caused by alkaline urine (pH above 7.0) – False
Spots are caused by a high concentration of Nitrogen and salts (Article 1)

A dog’s urine is comprised of numerous different components such as water, urea [(NH2)2CO], hormones and ammonia (NH3+). According to all four references, the single component affecting the grass is Nitrogen (N2).

Dogs are carnivores and therefore require a protein rich diet. Nitrogen is the fundamental breakdown product of protein. The excess amount of nitrogen is excreted through the dog’s kidneys ending up as urine. The concentrated liquid nitrogen in dog urine is similar to the concentration of ammonia or bleach. (Article 2)

The well-known saying: “Too much of something is never good”, applies to the Nitrogen component in urine. Nitrogen is a good fertilizer and dog urine could in fact be very beneficial to one’s lawns. The problem is that the Nitrogen concentration in dog urine is too high. According to Article 2, it is the concentration of the Nitrogen that is deadly to the grass, not the Nitrogen element itself. According to Article 4, the yellow stain emerges when the excess Nitrogen dehydrates the plant.

A few days after the stain appears one starts to notice a dark green ring around the peripheral. (Referring to Article 2 and 3) This is a result of the Nitrogen overload being diluted via rain water etc. and the increased Nitrogen starting to fuel abundant plant growth around the periphery.

There are a range of suggested solutions to solve the problem of dog spots. Here are the main ideas:

Problem Area Avoidance Techniques-
1. According to Article 2, “Dilution is the Solution!” Applying a bucket of water to the contaminated area apparently does the job.

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However, it might prove difficult to know when and where your dog urinates.
2. Pour gravel within a designated area for which you train your dog to urinate in (Article 1): Nitrogen is in fact beneficial to the lawn and by training your dog to urinate on the gravel you will lose out on the benefit of the nitrates. It will also leave you with a condensed bad odour.

Dietary Modification Techniques-
1. Feeding dog food supplements (Article 1): Dr Allards experiments prove that the problem is not acidity of the urine but Nitrogen overdose (Article 3).
2. Simply change the dogs diet (Article 3): This can become technical and must always first be consulted with a veterinarian prior to the modification.

Repair of Damage Area

1. To apply gypsum, baking soda or dishwashing detergent to the urine stains (Article 1): Gypsum and sodium bicarbonate are in fact salts which could fuel the negative effects. Dishwashing detergents can burn and stain the lawn.

2. Buying over the counter products: Several contain green paint. This will not solve the problem; for even though the grass will appear green there will be no Chlorophyll present in the grass. These over the counter products are pricey and can cost up to R180. It also comes in plastic containers which are not necessarily kind to the environment.

Recovery of Damage Area
This is where my simple suggestion comes into play. My suggested solution is sugar water. Not only will the water in the solution dilute the condensed Nitrogen (N) but the sugar, containing Carbon (C), will bond with the Nitrogen causing it to neutralize. New shoots of grass should then efficiently start to grow. The sugar content will also attract earthworms which support nutrient rich soil, promoting good plant growth. Sugar water is an easily home-made remedy which can save people money. It is also eco-friendly for it is not packaged in plastic.

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