Ask the vet: tips on saving your grass

Q: Will feeding tomato juice to my dog help prevent urine scald in my yard?
— Terry

A: The reason that urine causes grass scald is because of the nitrogen in the urine.   Nitrogen is one of the primary ingredients of lawn fertilizer. Small amounts of nitrogen will make your lawn green and grow. Large quantities can kill the grass.  The reason that tomato juice fed to your dog may be helpful in preventing grass scald is because tomato juice is salty and will make your dog drink more.  When she drinks more, her urine will become more diluted and this will decrease the concentration of nitrogen in her urine. For dogs that don’t have an underlying heath concern, it is fine to try feeding tomato juice. If your dog has a medical condition in which a high salt diet would be detrimental, like heart or kidney disease, then it is best to avoid this salty drink. 

There are other strategies you can employ to prevent a spotty lawn. You could pour a gallon of water immediately over the spot where your dog urinated to try to dilute out the nitrogen.  You could also train your dog to urinate in one area of the yard, preferably an area with rock or mulch. If grass scald is still a problem, talk to your local lawn and garden store about products they carry for getting grass to regrow in the patchy areas.

Dr. Teresa Hershey is a veterinarian at Westgate Pet Clinic in Linden Hills. Email her your pet questions at [email protected]