Friday, 21 September 2018 15:09

Porky & Buddy Column: Henry Makes Our Lawn Brown

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Dear Porky & Buddy: I adopted my first dog, Henry, this summer and I love him to pieces, but I just discovered what probably everyone else in the dog universe already knew—dog pee wrecks lawns!

I had no idea, but my lawn has brown spots all over it now and they are really ugly. Someone suggested that there is stuff you can buy that makes your dog’s pee less acid so it won’t burn the grass. Does that stuff work? Is there anything else I can do? Signed, Ken

Dear Ken,

You hear a lot of people opine that "acid" in a dog’s urine is what causes the brown spots in grass. All those people are flat out wrong. The culprit causing lawn burn is actually the high nitrogen content of Henry’s urine. Because a canine diet is very high in protein, there will be high levels of nitrogen, and you’ll be battling those brown spots for as long as Henry uses the lawn for his place of business.

Obviously, if the acidity of urine is not what causes the grass to die, then “stuff” to reduce acidity is pointless. Most vets warn against their use as they can cause changes in Henry that can lead to serious health problems.

The better approach is to devise ways to deal directly with the pee that is hitting your grass. One tried but true and simple remedy is just dilution. Keep a watering can or a hose handy when Henry goes out to do his business and then just flush the area with water.

The kind of grass you put in your yard also determines how well it will tolerate dog urine. In our area, fescue and perennial ryegrass are most resistant to dog urine, and diluted amounts of urine (hosing down the spot as we suggested above) can actually act as a fertilizer for the grass. Of course, if Henry pees on the lawn a lot and if you fertilize your lawn, use a reduced nitrogen fertilizer. (Kentucky bluegrass, another common grass in our area, is very vulnerable to dog pee.)

Another intervention, if you don't want to fight this battle, is the construction of a small graveled, mulched, or artificial turf area in the back or side of your yard. You can train Henry to "go to the back, or the potty, or whatever you want to call it," and with positive reinforcement and praise, he will eventually routinely head to that area to do his business.

One word of caution—don’t train him to use the neighbor’s yard. You might solve one problem, but you will surely create another.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Located at 29 West Seneca Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email: [email protected] Website:

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