Here’s the truth behind some of the biggest myths and urban legends about those frustrating dog urine spots.
If you own a home and a dog, chances are you’ve struggled to keep up your curb appeal and wondered if you’ll ever have the lush, green lawn you dream of. And if you’ve struggled with those awful pee spots, you know there is enough conflicting information about them on the Internet to make anyone throw their hands up in defeat. How do you sort the fact from fiction so that you can treat the problem and go back to enjoying your dog and a beautiful lawn? We’ve compiled a list of common myths to unpack for you below. Have you heard any of these?
Myth #1: Only female dogs cause urine spots.
Nope, female urine is not any worse than male urine, so your female furry friend is off the hook. Well, for the most part. Those ugly, yellow spots in your lawn are caused by the nitrogen and salts in your dog’s urine, and the gender of the dog has no impact on the concentration of these elements. However, dogs who squat or frequently go in the same spot will deposit a higher concentration of nitrogen and salts – and females are often squatters – so you may notice the dead spots develop more quickly, but this is due to the amount of urine deposited, not the type of urine.
Myth #2: You should neutralize your dog’s urine through dietary supplements.
Food additives aren’t going to help either. We adore our pets, and the last thing we want to do is negatively impact their health, but some frustrated homeowners will fall prey to the myth that they need to reduce urine alkalinity through supplements. First, remember that urine spots are due to nitrogen and salts, not the acidity of the dog’s urine. Second, such supplements can hurt your dog. Heed this warning from the Colorado State University Extension Service: “Products advertised to ‘naturally’ reduce urine alkalinity (including the amino acid, dl methionine, also known as methioform) may cause urinary system problems and can affect calcium deposition in growing bones of younger dogs. The addition of baking soda, potassium citrate and other salts are likewise not recommended as curatives for dog spots.” You should, however, always make sure you are providing your dog a balanced diet with plenty of water.
Myth #3: You should treat pee spots with extra fertilizer.
It may seem counter intuitive, but adding more fertilizer to a lawn damaged by dog urine is often more harmful than it is helpful. Dog urine and nitrogen fertilizer don’t play well together. Remember, the biggest culprit here is the nitrogen in the urine. Your dog is, in essence, adding nitrogen fertilizer to your lawn multiple times a day. When you add commercial fertilizers, you are increasing the nitrogen and the pee spots just get worse. When treating urine spots, you should reduce or temporarily stop treating your lawn with fertilizer – at least in the areas you are treating.
Myth #4: There is nothing you can do to prevent dog urine damage to your lawn.
If you’ve read this far, you might be feeling like there’s nothing you can do. But don’t be discouraged. Dog urine spots are treatable. The battle is won not by treating the dog, and not by treating the grass, but by treating the soil. To handle the increased nutrients added to the lawn through dog urine, you’ll need to improve the biological health of the soil so there is enough microbial activity to metabolize the nitrogen and excess salts in dog urine. Improving the health of the soil is the only sustainable long-term solution.
Heard any other myths not addressed here? Drop us an email or give us a call, and we’ll see if we can find the answer for you. Our phone number is (801) 971-0589 or email me at Jeff@soundsoil.com