Tag Archives: urine

Showered with love

Christchurch is known as The Garden City because so many residents, including me, like to have flower and vegetable gardens.

When I was gardening a few weeks ago, I noticed that the flowers on the left and right ends of my planter boxes had died. The others were coming away again with the spring rains and warmth.

And then I remembered. Spot has been coming to stay with us for daycare dates over the winter and spring. A boy, Spot likes to mark and my planter boxes are the perfect height for him.


Dog urine has a high concentration of nitrogen which will kill lawns and other plants when applied in a concentrated way. This is the same reason why gardeners who don’t follow the instructions on the label of nitrogen fertilizers find that instead of feeding their lawns and plants, they kill them off.

“Showered with love,” says Spot’s Mum… It’s okay. I like Spot and so does Izzy. A couple of dead plants are a small price to pay when we can enjoy the company of this beautiful boy.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Lawn burn and your dog – there are no guarantees

There are a lot of myths and home ‘cures’ for avoiding lawn burn when you have a dog in your life.  One of the more recent myths shared with me was ‘I was told that once I switched him to raw food, that he wouldn’t burn the lawn.’

Burnt grass


There’s something at work here called basic chemistry.  When a dog digests protein, a by-product is nitrogen that is excreted in the urine.  Because the nitrogen content is so high, it’s like putting too much nitrogen fertilizer on the lawn.  It burns.  Plain and simple.

Some owners report that by ensuring digestible proteins (hence, I believe the link here to a recommendation for a raw diet), the degree and frequency of lawn burn is diminished.  However, I’ve never met a dog parent yet who has successfully managed a balance between a nutritious diet and lawn burn simply by balancing protein content.

It’s more likely that owners are encouraging their dog to drink more through adding fluids to their food, effectively diluting the concentration of urine.  Others add dilute broths to the drinking water to encourage the dog to drink more. Here again, the result is diluted urine.

It’s fact that female dogs tend to empty their bladder more fully with each urination whereas male dogs tend to mark and spread their urine more.  So owners of female dogs can anticipate lawn burn as a fact of life.

And of course, the larger the dog – the more urine.  No brainer there, either.

If you are really stressed about having burnt out lawn patches, here are some practical management techniques that have nothing to do with your dog’s diet:

  • teach your dog to urinate in designated parts of your yard
  • make sure you don’t over-fertilize your lawn – if your starting point is already lots of nitrogen, then your dog’s urine just tips the balance
  • ask at your local garden centre about types of grass that are more nitrogen tolerant; re-seed with these varieties

Since my practice is all about balance, it does concern me that owners are prepared to dose their dog with substances reporting to help with lawn burn.  Your dog eats protein.  Nitrogen excretion in the urine is natural.  Why upset that balance?

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Urine may be the saviour of wild dog populations

Africa’s endangered wild dogs are very clever:  no traditional fence can keep them out.  A doctoral researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Craig R. Jackson, has explored ways to save the species.

Photo by Craig R. Jackson

Photo by Craig R. Jackson

African wild dogs are a distinct species that cannot inter-breed with other dogs.   The populations of these dogs were in good shape until a few decades ago. In the middle of the last century, there were 500,000 of them in 39 countries. But the species is in decline across nearly its entire range south of the Sahara. Today there are somewhere between 3000 and 5500 left, in fewer than 25 countries. That’s roughly one per cent remaining – and that’s the best case scenario.

Wild dog packs are loath to intrude into the territories of other packs. These territories are defined by urine scent trails. So the researchers and their colleagues collected sand that had been sprayed with urine by wild dogs and moved it near to other packs to keep them inside a certain area – with success.

The use of the scent markings helps to keep wild dogs out of areas where they think there are other dog packs.  But, collection of the urine needed for the scent trails is a problem.  So the next step is re-creating the urine artificially.

The conclusion of the thesis:  urine may be the best bet for saving the African wild dog population; that urine may have to be artificially produced.

Source:  NTNU media release


Cranberries and urinary tract infections

Many holistic veterinarians are now recommending the use of cranberries in the long-term treatment of pets who are susceptible to urinary tract infections, or UTI.

Diabetic dogs, in particular, seem to develop UTI more regularly than the normal dog population.  Spayed females are also more susceptible to infections.


When a dog has a UTI, they often struggle to eliminate urine or, when they do pee, not much comes out.  Sometimes blood is seen in the urine, the urine may smell stronger, or it has a dark colour.  If your dog has a UTI, then seeing your veterinarian for antibiotics is essential.  A urinary tract infection left untreated means your dog is uncomfortable and in pain and if the infection travels to the kidneys, then your dog is in serious trouble.

Cranberries can assist when your dog is being treated for a UTI because cranberries help to acidify the urine which helps to prevent bacteria growth.

But what about prevention?  This is where the cranberries come into their own.  Not only does the cranberry acidify the urine, but studies show that they have the ability to prevent bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder and urinary tract and so they minimise the chance of an infection recurring.

Some owners treat their dog with cranberry powder because the juice is tart and unpalatable.  Owners must be careful because lots of cranberry juices are full of sugar (that’s a warning for humans as well as pets).

I’m working on a wheat-free cranberry biscuit recipe now that will feature as the January/February special.  I’ve just perfected my recipe and the latest batch is looking great – with the added benefit of no artificial colours!

Dog peeing

In order to prevent recurring urinary tract infections, it’s also really important to ensure your dog has lots of fresh, clean water to drink and has lots of opportunities to go outside and pee.  For diabetic dogs, care must be given to their daily diet to manage their blood sugars (another reason to watch the sugar content of any cranberry supplements).