burning questions about dog urine

I have a dog. She is the world’s very best dog. She even used to write her own blog entries! But now she’s getting on in years and going to bed earlier.

Anyway, she pees. There are two spots in our back yard (about 1/4 acre) where she loves to pee: the first is at the base of the deck stairs, and it is thankfully not seen through most of our windows, because this is the place where she morning pees, and traditionally pees the most when left to her own devices. (On a walk round the block, she will pee on concrete, but at home, that patch of grass is HERS.) The pee damage to this area is considerable, and needs reseeding each year, though the carnage is making the ground uneven. It usually grows in pretty well by August, all the better for the neighbours who have to see it.

More recently, since the walkout basement was finished, she started having a nighttime pee (after her nightly chew flip) on a patch that can be seen through many of the back windows. The damage here is much less egregious, and I’m guessing that with the usual reseeding efforts, the grass should be returned to its usual status by July.

Recently while visiting my favourite pet supplier, Pet Planet, I came across a product by the Nature’s Miracle people (if you’ve ever had a pet pee inside your home, you should know about Nature’s Miracle – it’s an enzymatic cleaner that destroys the odour effectively enough to discourage repeat urination in the same spot. Anyway, this product was for OUTDOORS, and while I had only a minute while my chicken bento box cooked next door, I gathered that this product (32 dollars for a big squirt jug – maybe 2 gallons?) was supposed to be applied TO YOUR LAWN where the dog pees, to encourage regrowth and discourage … what? My bento box was ready.

So I came home and decided to try and find out if this product was snake oil, or what (or maybe I just really enjoy the tedious process of reseeding each year). My less than fabulous research skills did not turn it up. Also, I wanted to know if there were ANY methods or products deemed effective in terms of reducing lawn killing via dog pee, short of training the dog to pee elsewhere (see the pictures – this dog puts up with a lot, and deserves to at least PEE wherever she wants in her own back yard, even though I know she’d easily train to pee in the wide swath of river rock that runs along that side of the house) or racing outdoors with a bucket of water every time she pees (I am not that energetic). I found all sorts of strange things, like people who swore that their dog’s pee was completely harmless if the dog drank only well water or spring water. I didn’t find a lot of agreement on the subject, however, other than that it is more or less the price you pay for loving a dog – which of course I already knew.

I am left wondering, what is it that this Nature’s Miracle product does? Can anyone come up with more than an educated guess? And are there any other useful methods for preventing what I call “The Katie Kill Area” from blossoming with every spring thaw, while still allowing her to pee on the grass?

Here’s a product thatis a feed-through that claims to diminish yellow spots. I’ve never used it, so I can’t vouch for the efficacy. PetSmart has a money-back gaurantee if you’re unhappy with the results, though.


I have heard (on some TV gardening show) that giving the dog a tablespoon of tomato juice in their food per day will reduce the damage their pee does to the lawn. I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know if it’ll work.

The problem with urine is that it contains nitrogen(amount varies due to breed of dog and diet). Nitrogen is a part of fertilizer, but too much is a bad thing. You may notice that at the edge of the area where the dog pees, the grass is green and lush. That area is getting the right amount of nitrogen to help it grow. I think the products you put on the grass help to bind the nitrogen into a compound that won’t kill the grass.
I had a black lab that had just the right amount of nitrogen and he politely peed all over the back yard, so we had wonderful back yard lawn.

I appreciate the input thus far. Katie suffers from the odd urinary tract infection, which may hold a clue to why her pee is so deadly to grass. I’m not sure about the long-term effects of the so-called feed-throughs on the dog’s health, though. I’d have to ask her vet before trying it, but it’s not a bad idea, since I know that some people with larger female dogs than Katie just don’t seem to have this problem.

Hijack: What kind of dog is Katie? She is very pretty. And, indeed, she looks like A Very Good Dog.

I burning sensation your dog!

sorry–someone had it do it


Katie is a Border Collie. Perhaps the calmest Border Collie on the planet. Usually, Border Collies will run you ragged with their intense desire to work, run, and play. Katie’s happy just being dressed up as a doctor or lying in the sun on the sofa.

Border Collies are perhaps the smartest dogs - uncannily so. They’re generally gentle, good with kids (unless they try to herd them), and great pets. They do, however, require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. They’re incredibly high energy dogs. Not the kind of dog you want if you just put your dog in the back yard all day. They need a job to do, or they’ll find their own - and you might not like what they choose.

Katie’s an integral part of our lives. She goes on trips with us, she’s right in the middle of the family almost all the time, and our daughter takes her with her on neighborhood jaunts all the time. She also takes her to agility classes. It keeps the dog busy and happy. Under those circumstances, Border Collies are the best dogs ever.

As pudytat72 said, dog pee is like the high nitrogen fertilizer you apply to your grass to green it up. And like lawn fertilizer, if you don’t “water it in” soon after the application, it will “burn” the grass. The only thing you need to apply to the spot where your dog just peed is water.

I don’t know how practical it is in your case, but if you follow her outside with the hose (or a bucket) when she goes to pee and water the peed on area well, you won’t have any yellow spots.

I see your point – not likely that the Nature’s Miracle outdoor stuff really improves much on plain old trusty aitch too oh.

It’s not very practical for me, though. I am just not going to go out the kitchen door, around the corner, and down the deck stairs with a bucket of water in my tighty whities every morning. Even a rainbarrel located nearby wouldn’t make me more likely to do this. Brushing the dog’s teeth every day, fine. Following the dog out three times a day with a bucket of water, no. And, of course, a large part of the damage comes from winter and early spring peeing, when I’d have to bring out a bucket of BOILING water to have it still be liquid when I reached the bottom of the stairs!

I am thinking of recruiting our daughter as “dog trainer” (for spending cash!) to train the dog to pee on the rainbow rock, after all. This will only work for two of the day’s pees, and I will only ask it of her if Katie seems enthusiastic about peeing there. If she will only do it reluctantly, I’ll abandon the idea and resign myself to actually tearing up and resodding lawn periodically (since reseeding is getting tougher and tougher). The night time pee I could maybe manage with a rainbarrel and a jug, since it’s not so far from the downstairs back door.

I saw a “Pee Post” at a local pet supply place, which supposedly is embedded with pheremones to encourage your dog to pee on it cheerfully. I was thinking of enlisting the aid of the pee post in this effort. Has anyone here ever tried one?