Are you frustrated with those burned out, yellow and brown spots in your yard where your dog does his business? Want to know what causes it and how you can prevent it? Read on for some ideas that just might help.
What Causes the Brown Patches?
Dog urine contains a variety of nitrogen compounds. Nitrogen waste products come from the breakdown of protein in the body. Excess nitrogen is removed from the animal's body via the kidneys, as a waste product, and when a dog urinates, the nitrogen is applied to the lawn in a large, concentrated dose. This is all part of the normal bodily process, but not great for your grass. The right amounts of nitrogen can be beneficial to your lawn (the main ingredient in lawn fertilizers is nitrogen), but too much undiluted nitrogen can burn the grass.
One of the many myths surrounding this topic is that female dog urine is more acidic than male's and therefore more damaging. In actuality, the reason it seems that a female's urine is more damaging is because female dogs squat to urinate, producing large volume puddles, as opposed to the leg lifting "marking" of male dogs. Leg lifting in males usually begins around a year of age. Fragile plants, bushes or flowers that become marking posts for male dogs may also die in time with the repeated nitrogen overload.
The larger the dog, the more urination, and the greater the damage.
Always check with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog's diet. There are a lot of theories involving dietary modifications and home remedies to reduce the concentration of nitrogen in the urine, many of which are possibly unhealthy or dangerous for your pet. Altering the pH of your dog's diet, adding acidifying agents such as Vitamin C or fruit juices, alkalinizing agents such as baking soda or potassium citrate, have not been proven to have any affect on the nitrogen level in a dog's urine, and can cause other issues such as bladder stones or kidney problems.
One successful approach seems to be increasing the amount of liquids in the diet, which dilutes the urine and nitrogen concentration. You can moisten dry food with water, or feed a canned food. And always be sure she has plenty of water to drink.
Also consider the type of dog food you are feeding. Nitrogen waste products in the body are a result of protein breakdown. The higher protein diets are going to result in more nitrogen in the urine. Most commercial dog foods purchased at supermarkets contain high levels of protein. The average family dog doesn't have the activity levels to require such high amounts of protein. The quality of the protein is important too, as some proteins are more highly digestible. Premium and super premium dog foods contain higher quality, more digestible levels of proteins, and result in less waste product, another reason to feed your dog the highest quality food.
Minimize the Damage
One effective method to minimize lawn damage is to soak the area with water within 8 hours after urination. Use a garden hose or simply carry out a watering can or jug with you. The water will dilute the nitrogen and prevent the damage.
You could designate an area of your yard for your pet to eliminate and train her to use that area only. It could just be an out of sight area or corner of the yard, or create a special area consisting of gravel or mulch with a "marking post" such as a boulder, bird bath, or garden ornament. You can purchase a "pee post" with special pheromones that will attract the dog to where the post is placed, or collect some of the dog's urine and feces and place in the spot until they catch on. You'll need to spend time training your dog initially to use their new spot, but it can be well worth the effort in the end.
You can spinkle lime fertilizer onto the grass where your dog urinates. Lime neutralizes the soil's pH and prevents grass damage. Another option is to use gypsum pellets which expand in water to break up the soil.
There are commercial products you can purchase at most pet stores or online to help deal with the problem, but you might want to try some of these suggestions first.
Small areas of brown grass will often regenerate themselves in time. Other areas may need re-seeding or sodding. The most resistent grasses seem to be perennial ryegrasses and fescues. The most sensitive tend to be Kentucky Bluegrass and Bermuda.
By understanding the causes of lawn burn, and utilizing some of these suggestions, you can own a dog and maintain a beautiful lawn at the same time.
Sources: aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu; ehow.com; Office for Science and Society; dogs.about.com; peteducation.com; allaboutlawns.com
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.