Pet Connection Q&A: How to eliminate brown grass spots

06/05/2012 12:00 AM

06/04/2012 3:25 PM

Last summer, my lawn was covered in brown spots from my dog urinating on it. Are there supplements or a special diet I can give her so that doesn't happen?

G.B., via Facebook

Because female dogs deposit a lot of urine in one concentrated spot compared with male dogs, who usually leave small amounts of urine in a number of locations, this tends to be more a problem with females than males.

Unfortunately, supplements or medications that change the pH of urine aren't going to help, because that's not what makes the grass brown. Urine has a lot of nitrogen in it. In small, dilute amounts, nitrogen is a fertilizer. When it's too concentrated, though, it will "burn" the grass. In fact, you might have noticed that around the edges of the brown spot, there is a ring of very green, lush grass. That's due to the more diluted urine at the edges of the spot where the dog urinated.

There are only two main solutions. The first is to dilute the urine so it isn't so concentrated, either in the bladder or on the lawn.

Some suggestions, such as giving the dog tomato juice, are thought to work by increasing the sodium in the diet, stimulating thirst, and thus diluting the urine right in the bladder. This isn't a good idea, as high- sodium diets can make some health problems worse.

A better method of diluting the urine is to pour a gallon or so of water directly on the spot where your dog urinates.

The second solution is to train your dog to urinate elsewhere. This requires taking her to a specified area of your property, waiting until she urinates there, and rewarding and praising her. Don't give her any opportunity to urinate anywhere else for a couple of weeks, and she should get the idea from then on.

Gina Spadafori

The buzz

Go a size bigger for a bird's cage

Nothing is more important to your bird than the cage you buy and where you put it. You want your bird to be safe and feel secure in his cage. He should also feel included as part of the family, even when he's confined.

A proper cage – well- designed, large, and made of safe and sturdy materials – and its proper placement can achieve all these goals.

A good rule of thumb on size is to choose the next cage larger from what the labeling says. Look for smooth welds and no paint chipping. Your bird will be working as best he can to destroy his cage, so you don't want him breaking off any toxic pieces. Although the kitchen may seem like an ideal place for your bird's cage, it's really not a good idea. The potential for your bird to breathe deadly fumes, such as those from overheated nonstick cookware, is too high in the kitchen. – Mikkel Becker and Dr. Marty Becker


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