Dog Spots, What Can I Do?

dog spots

Photo Credit to The University of California

Anyone who owns a dog and tries to maintain a nice lawn knows the struggles of dealing with the damage they can do.  The bold damage like digging holes and the trail around the perimeter of the yard along with the sneaky damage like dog spots.  For this Tech Tuesday post, we are talking about those dead patches of yellow grass surrounded by the darker green ring caused by dog urine. The infamous “dog spot”. What happened and what can be done?

Confirm your suspicions:

That yellow dead spot can also be the symptom of a disease or even a drought

dog spots

Photo Credit to The University of California

symptom brought on by shallow roots.   Do your detective work first by just observing?  Is this the part of the yard where the dog relieves himself regularly?  Many times, it’s the first grass their feet touch when you let them outside.  Are the spots just in the backyard where the dog is allowed to roam or are they in front too?  Now probe a bit, if it has been hot and dry try sticking a screwdriver into the middle of the dead area.  Does it hit a rock?  These spots can be more evident when the lawn is under stress, drought and heat,  or when it is first coming out of dormancy in the spring.   It is usually pretty easy to narrow down the culprit.

What happened?

 When a dog urinates it delivers large amounts of  Uric acid, Nitrogen and salts to a small spot. ( Especially if it is a female dog that squats in one place versus the male waving things around.)  This concentration of soluble salts  kills the grass the same way we have discussed in previous posts about driveway salts in the winter.  It pulls the moisture out of the leaf and kills it through dehydration.  Around the edges of the spot, the concentration isn’t so high and the nitrogen components fertilize the grass making it grow faster and darker green.  Giving us the dead spot with a green ring.

What can be done?

This usually falls into two categories, prevention and repair.

Prevention:  This consists of either training your pet not to relieve themselves in the grass or to dilute the salts immediately after so they don’t have a chance to burn.  You decide which you can accomplish.  The training is up to you and your dog, we could never teach ours Lab to go in the mulch beds.  The most effect way we have heard of diluting came from a client who would follow her Lhasa Apso out in the back yard with a gallon milk jug of water and pour it on the spot every time she went.  It was a spotless yard.  At this time, I’m not aware of any dietary approaches (ie. tomato juice in their water) that have been supported by actual research.  I wouldn’t go and spend money on these remedies.

Repair:  Consists of seeding or sodding these dead areas.The main thing to remember is that you need to flush the salts out of these dead areas before any renovation can occur.  Flush small spots with water cans and gallon jugs and large area with heavy watering over a week or so.  Then proceed with the renovation remembering to keep the area damp until re-established.

If you have any further questions about dog spots, give a Lawn Coach a call today!