During the summer months, one challenge that I’ve faced as a dog owner and homeowner is grass burn, the dreaded yellowing of my lawn as a result of my beloved Rat Terrier, Ruby, relieving herself in the yard. After dealing with this issue for a few years, I began scouring for products or services that would help bring my grass back to life. My husband’s brilliant suggestion of letting Ruby use the front lawn of the unfriendly neighbor down the street simply wasn’t going to work!
With a dog of my own and small children next door, I wanted to avoid harsh chemical lawn treatments and focus on natural remedies. While chemical fertilizers are designed to stimulate plant growth, they may contain ingredients that could be toxic to the skin or respiratory system. Also, over-application can result in harmful run-off, which ultimately harms our ground water and food supply.
Ruby loves to play Frisbee in the backyard and we often supplement walks with games of fetch as well. Knowing how much she enjoys running around, digging, rolling, and chasing bugs made me realize that I needed to seek out an alternate solution to chemical lawn treatments, which could compromise her health.
Upon further research, I discovered that grass burn is mostly attributed to excessive levels of nitrogen in a dog’s urine. And I learned that a high-quality diet and plenty of fresh water can keep nitrogen levels in check.
One recommendation I found for avoiding grass burn is feeding pets a lower-protein food, as animals that consume high-protein diets have higher levels of nitrogen in their waste. However, introducing a completely new food into Ruby’s diet wasn’t really an option for me. Ruby can be a finicky eater, and it had already taken me months to finally find a food that she would agree to eat. I also didn’t want to compromise her newfound high-energy level and beautiful coat by switching to a different food.
Since my objective was to go chemical-free, I asked local pet store owners and neighbors in the community for their suggestions. One shop owner suggested that I train Ruby to relieve herself in one area of my yard, designated for this very purpose. However, the only way I could get her to do this was on a leash, which contradicted the purpose of my newly fenced-in yard. Others recommended that I spray the grass with water each time the dog urinated, but then again, who has time for that?
Next, I looked into several oral supplements that were marketed as natural remedies. When I mentioned these to my vet, she advised against using them because they tend to alter a dog’s pH level. She also told me to be careful when introducing foreign supplements to small dogs as their systems can easily be thrown off by sudden alterations to their diet.
I knew I was getting close to a solution, so I decided to talk to a friend whose lawn always looked pristine despite having a Boxer mix romping around every day. During our conversation, she admitted to dealing with the same issue with her puppy, Tyson. She described how prior to adopting him, she had always used a lawn service to treat her yard each spring, with intermittent applications throughout the summer. However, once Tyson came into the picture, she realized how harmful these chemicals could be to him. That was when she discovered Dog Rocks and gave them a try.
Dog Rocks are 100-percent natural, organic minerals that act as a natural filtration system by sifting out impurities such as tin, ammonia, and nitrates from your dog’s water, reducing the chances of grass burn when it’s time to go outside. When my friend first explained how the product works, I was, of course, skeptical. I had a difficult time believing that a magical rock from Australia would make my grass green again. But, I decided to give it a shot since it was a natural product and it had worked for my friend.
Ruby was a little taken aback when I first introduced Dog Rocks in her water bowl. However, she quickly warmed up to it and had no problem adjusting after the first few days. Based on her reaction, Dog Rocks don’t seem to alter the taste of the water; dogs just have to learn to drink around them. If all else fails, a deeper water bowl should ease the adjustment, since the rocks sink to the bottom.
After a few weeks, the only yellow patches left in my yard were those created prior to using this new product. By the end of the summer, my backyard was green again. While Dog Rocks probably won’t reverse existing burned grass, they will help prevent new patches from forming. My husband, the eternal skeptic, was blown away by the results. Since he takes the lead role in yard work at our house, he was happy to see the lawn that he grew from seed come back to life again.
Needless to say, I’ve continued using Dog Rocks year-round, introducing a new rock into Ruby’s water bowl every six to eight weeks. So far, my lawn is looking great this summer! Now, if only I could do something about all the neighborhood dogs who mark my front yard. I guess I’ll just have to convince their owners to try Dog Rocks, too!
Emma Rachel is a co-founder of the online natural dog-supply shop FidoDogTreats.com.
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