Q: I have two dogs and a small back yard. Now that it's gotten hot, my yard suddenly has lots of dead spots in it. I suspect it's from their urine. Is there a treatment for my lawn that will prevent the grass from dying? R.G.

The gist of it is that there's not a lot that can be done. Sorry. The cause for the damage is the dog's intake of protein which is converted into excess nitrogen and eliminated in the urine / feces. This excess nitrogen is actually a form of fertilizer, but because of the highly concentrated dose, it burns the grass. Usually, only the grass blades die and the roots remain intact and will usually grow back in time. However, when the dogs use the same spots repeatedly, which they probably do if they're like mine, then eventually the grass roots will die as well.

Despite some advertising in popular dog magazines and catalogs, there are no products at this time that you can add to the dog's food to change the outcome. Diluting the urine is the only real remedy which means giving the dog more water to drink or washing down the areas with a hose or sprinkler immediately after they go (not very practical though). There are a couple of grass types that are a little more resistant, but not enough to make much of a difference. If you had the time and patience to train the dogs, it is possible to train them to urinate on command in a specific location in your yard which could be a mulched area or anywhere that doesn't have grass.

You might check their diet and make sure that they're not getting too much protein (raw meats, etc.). In addition, if you feed them only once a day, you might break up the feedings into two meals like breakfast and dinner to help dilute the protein. Don't overfeed the animals, particularly prepared people food.

It would be nice if there was a magic formula / pill / treatment that could stop this, but I'm afraid there is none. Check out the article I listed above for more advice from a vet about this topic.