Dog Urine and Your Lawn

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By Tess Thompson



Canine and feline urinary infections can lead to frequent urination as well as incontinence in pets.

Urinary tract infections in dogs can prove to be extremely irritating for dog owners. UTIs in puppies as well as adult dogs is obviously a health concern-- but it also causes concern for those who like to keep their lawns perfectly clean, lush and green.

One of the frequent problems that dog owners face from their pet is the amount of damage that dog urine causes to their lawns. The issue is so commonplace that it has given rise to a myth that male dog urine is less acidic and therefore causes less damage than female urine. Actually, both are the same and have similar nitrogen content and pH levels. It is in fact the manner in which male dogs urinate that makes all the difference. Female dogs squat while urinating, whereas males urinate vertically to mark their territory-- which means that male urine drips down something instead of hitting the ground directly. Since both male and female puppies squat to urinate, they cause equal damage to the grass.

The basic problem of urine or feces in the lawn is presented by the presence and concentration of nitrogen in both. Carnivores have a significant requirement of protein in their diet. Although the volume of urine depends upon size, normal metabolism breaks down the protein and excess nitrogen is removed from the system. Urine causes a bigger problem than feces, since the latter are normally solid and can be removed frequently by owners. Though urine serves as a liquid fertilizer to the lawn, its application in concentrated form at a specific point leads to grass damage.

Dog urine has different effects on the various types of grasses. It causes lesser damage to some and actually serves as instant fertilizer in diluted concentrations. The pH content, on the other hand, has a constant effect on all types of grasses.

Although there are many products in the market that serve to neutralize acidity in dog urine, making frequent changes in the pH level by changing the dog’s food may lead to other medical problems. These issues are likely to be more bothersome than treating the grass.

A better idea to save your lawn would be to earmark an area where the dog can urinate. This could be a gravel path that the dog is likely to take a preference to. Take the dog to the designated 'bathroom' on a leash and praise him for having urinated at the new place. A week of toilet training will ensure that your dog only goes there to urinate. Dogs do not easily forget their training unless there is an underlying problem that forces them to.

References:

http://plantanswers.tamu.edu/turf/dog_lawn_problems.html
http://dogs.about.com/od/dogcarebasics/qt/grass_burns.htm

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