How To Keep Dog Pee From Ruining Your Lawn

Published Jun. 24, 2024
A dog stands on a green lawn.

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Between holes throughout the yard and areas of dead grass from urine, some days it feels like having a well-manicured lawn is impossible when you’ve got a furry friend in the family.

Fortunately, the fact that your dog’s pee leaves brown spots on your lawn doesn’t mean there’s an issue with their health. However, you may have to do some extra work to keep your grass green.

Let's take a look at some changes you can make to keep your lawn healthy.

Why Does Dog Pee Kill and Discolor Grass?

When your dog eats and digests protein, there’s a buildup of nitrogen in the blood, which the kidneys filter into the urine.

Dogs who don’t drink much water or have a very high protein diet will have higher nitrogen levels in their pee—and be more likely to damage grass.

While plants need nitrogen to grow, too much of it will overwhelm the root system of your lawn and cause the grass to die. A dog peeing on the lawn focuses a large amount of nitrogen into a very small location, leading to brown patches of dead grass.

Dogs who don’t drink much water or have a very high protein diet will have higher nitrogen levels in their pee—and be more likely to damage grass.

Female dogs and male dogs who squat to pee (there are at least 12 dog peeing positions) have a more localized stream of urine, concentrating nitrogen in the grass and causing more brown spots than dogs who stand to pee.

The type of grass you have may also make a difference in the number of brown spots you notice.

Fescue and ryegrass can take more nitrogen, while Bermuda grass and Kentucky bluegrass will be more sensitive.

Lawns that are heavily fertilized will be further damaged from additional nitrogen.

How To Stop Dog Pee From Ruining Your Grass

There are a few things you can change to stop prevent urine from tarnishing your lawn. 

Changes for Your Dog

Increase Hydration

The more water your dog drinks, the less concentrated their urine (and therefore the nitrogen in it) will be.

Encourage water drinking by getting multiple bowls, considering a pet fountain, or even adding some water to their food.

There are diets with higher sodium content designed to increase your dog’s water drinking. Ask your vet if a diet like Royal Canine® Urinary SO might be safe for your dog.

Encourage a Pee Spot

You can praise your dog for using a certain area of the lawn that is out of sight or even on mulch or artificial turf, such as this portable potty.


Supplements can help deal with this issue, but many are aimed at changing the urine’s acidity (pH), not its nitrogen levels.

If you are considering a supplement, be sure to discuss this with your veterinarian before giving it to your pup.

Diet Change

Dogs need protein in their diets, so lowering the amount they eat is not recommended.

That said, some diets may have higher protein amounts than your dog needs for their activity level.

Discuss your dog’s dietary protein with your vet and see if it is safe to lower it.

Changes for Your Lawn

Rinse the Grass

Rinsing pee spots after your dog urinates works well to lower the nitrogen concentration in that spot. It also hydrates your lawn, which is even better for grass health.

Change Your Fertilizer

Use a low-nitrogen fertilizer or decrease how often you fertilize your lawn to help reduce the overall nitrogen the grass is getting.

Plant Urine-Resistant Grass

Ryegrass and fescue are less sensitive to urine damage, so if you are reseeding your lawn, consider these species. You can also spot treat with seed-containing products like Pennington® Smart Patch.

Lawn Repair Treatment

Enzymatic products are available to treat damaged areas of lawn, such as See Spot Run®.

A lawn that you and your dog can both enjoy is not out of reach. A combination of these changes may work best for some situations.

Be prepared for a little bit of trial and error—making one change at a time may help simplify finding the best solution for your family and yard.

Jamie Lovejoy, DVM


Jamie Lovejoy, DVM


Dr. Jamie Lovejoy graduated from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012 after an undergraduate degree in Marine Biology. ...

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