What Causes Acid in Dog Urine?

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What Causes Acid in Dog Urine?
What Causes Acid in Dog Urine? (Image: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3228/2415839655_4a6b876276.jpg,http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2416/2444063064_739862bfdd.jpg, http://farm1.static.flickr.com/205/515109142_3468bc99ac.jpg,http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3625/3525984988_ddf4447001.jpg)

A general assumption about dog urine is that it contains acid. Dog urine may be acidic, but it does not specifically contain acid. Acidic dog urine is a common concern because it may cause brown spots on green lawns. Understanding the chemical makeup of a dog's waste will lead to a better understanding of how to solve these issues.

Urine Makeup

A common misconception is that dog urine contains acid, which kills grass. In reality, a dog's urine is chiefly made up of nitrogen. Nitrogen is the waste that results from the breakdown of protein. Ironically, nitrogen is a principal ingredient in lawn fertilizer. However, because dog urine is concentrated, it tends to brown grass instead of fertilize it. In most instances of "grass burn" there is a large brown spot on the lawn, but the surrounding grass is usually very green. This is because the majority of the nitrogen from the urine is distributed centrally. The green edges are where only small amounts of nitrogen have been deposited, and thus, that grass has actually been fertilized.

Dilution
Dilution

Diet Remedies

Many pet owners believe that the acidic nature of urine can be decreased by diet. Actually, the only way to decrease the acidic nature of a dog's urine is to dilute it. This can be done in a number of ways. Canned dog food is obviously moister than dry food, and thus, this type of food will dilute the nitrogen in a dog's urine. Another way to dilute urine is to allow dogs to drink more water. This will increase a dog's need to urinate more frequently, though. Most pet supply stores sell chewable tabs that claim to prevent grass burn. These supplements work by adding vitamins to the dog's diet. Most veterinarians do not recommend these supplements for pets, as they tend to cause significant health problems with continual use.

Green Lawn
Green Lawn

Diet Remedies

Because dogs have a heightened sense of smell, dogs tend to "mark" their territory in the same places that other dogs have urinated. For this reason, having a fenced-in backyard will eliminate some nitrogen deposits because other dogs will not have access to parts of your lawn. One way to eliminate grass burn from acidic dog urine is to dilute nitrogen on the grass. This can be accomplished by employing a water sprinkler in areas where dogs urinate. Unfortunately, this can increase water costs. The simplest way to eliminate grass burn from dog urine is to train dogs to urinate in a specific spot. This works great for puppies, but older dogs can be taught to urinate in a specific area as well.

Go to a Dog Park
Go to a Dog Park

Expert Insight

The educational staff at Drs. Foster & Smith say that female dogs may tend to cause more damage to lawns than male dogs because they tend to squat, and this distributes more nitrogen into one area. They also point out that lawns that have already been fertilized will turn brown much quicker when exposed to dog urine. They suggest that pet owners fertilize lawns less because nitrogen will inevitably be deposited in the soil from the pets' urine. They also point out that Bluegrass and Bermuda grass are more sensitive than other grasses such as Rye grass or Fescue grass.

Warnings

The Internet is satiated with "home remedies" that eliminate grass burn. However, it's important to know that the breakdown and elimination of proteins into nitrogen is an important part of your dog's health. Contact your veterinarian before you commit to use any home remedy or recipe on your pet. Perhaps the simplest solution involves taking pets to a dog park specifically designated for dogs. Whatever solution you attempt to use, keep your dog's best interests at heart.

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