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Dog Urine – Grass Burn – Tomato Juice – Really?

tomatojuiceAt one point or another, some dog owners have to face an assortment of issues that may arise; such as chewed up lawn furniture, stained carpet, or an infestation of fleas. But one pet-related issue that becomes highly controversial is how to handle lawn burn. Lawn burn, which is the discoloration of grass after a dog has urinated on it, has been said to only occur when a females urinates because female dogs have a higher concentration of acid in their pee than their male counterparts. This condition is often referred to as "Female Dog Spot Disease."

A common assumption is that acid in a dog's urine causes the grass to burn and die, but it is also suspected that the true culprit behind the discoloration is the amount of nitrogen within the urine and not the acid. Since dogs consume a large amount of protein on a daily basis, their normal bodily functions have no problems breaking it down. The excess nitrogen then goes through a process where it is removed by the kidneys and then expelled in urine, which is what burns the grass.

While there isn't detailed scientific research to back up this belief, it is alleged by some, the most efficient way to prevent any further damage to discolored lawns is to change the pH level of the dog's urine. In order to change the acidity of a dog's urine, some pet owners feed their dogs tablespoons of tomato juice on a daily basis either with food or taken directly in spoonfuls. However, some dog owners have concerns that giving a dog tomato juice will upset the dog's urinary tract since the canines will be taking in extra salt that they wouldn't have otherwise. While others insist it is the safest and surest way to keep lawns from experiencing the dreaded light brown or yellow stains in the grass.

Most burn patches will repair naturally within time but the more recommended alternatives to prevent lawn discoloration consist of:

  • Reseeding lawns using urine-resistant grasses.
  • Watering the area immediately after your dog urinates. Spraying water on grass after your dog has urinated is carried out to dilute the concentration of acid and/or nitrogen within the first eight hours.
  • Using a fertilizer on your lawn that has reduced nitrogen.
  • Making sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water. The more water a dog drinks, the more diluted the urine will become.
  • Consulting your veterinarian to have your dog's urine tested for possible imbalances.
  • Training your dog to urinate and defecate in allowed regions. It is easier to train puppies, but older dogs can also learn to pee in designated areas.

Important message:

Please consult with a veterinarian prior to changing or adding ingredients to your pet's diet, which may cause metabolic changes. Your pet relies on you to make qualified and healthy decisions. Failure to do so could be harmful for your pet(s).

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References:

Thompson, Steve. Companion Animal Medicine & Behavior, "Dog-On-It" Lawn Problems. Retrieved online June 5, 2012 from http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/turf/dog_lawn_problems.html

Allard, AW. Lawn burn and dog urine, Canine Practice, March/April 1981;8;(2);26-32.

Save Your Lawns From the Dogs. Retrieved online June 5, 2012 from http://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/pet-articles/pet-owner-topics/Save-Your-Grass-from-the-Dogs.aspx

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