Dogs, particularly males, find shrubs and low bushes to be an excellent bathroom spot. If you’ve got hardy drought and salt-resistant bushes, they may stand up to urine better than delicate plants. Unfortunately, dog urine has the potential to do major damage to most other types of foliage -- including grass and flowers -- unless you take preventative or reactionary measures to neutralize the damage of the pee.
Dog Urine Issues
Dog urine is acidic and has a high concentration of nitrogen. In small doses, nitrogen is actually good for your lawn and plants, but in high doses, it can burn and kill all the living greenery in its path. Dogs often get into the habit of going to the same spot in the yard repeatedly -- a good thing if you can train your pup to a neutral corner, but a bad thing if he has a favorite shrub he likes to spray.
Male Versus Female Dogs
Even though a male dog lifts his leg and sprays on a shrub, a female dog who squats and pees on a bush can actually do more damage. The male's spray is widely dispersed, while the female makes her deposit in a single, concentrated spot. Even if she doesn’t hit the shrub, she will damage the soil around it, and with repeated urination, damage the roots of the shrub as well. Increased water intake will help dilute the urine, so make sure your dog has regular access to fresh water.
One way to keep your dog from peeing on your shrubs is to only let your pup urinate in your yard when you have him on a leash and can guide him to an area suitable for his bathroom needs. You can also feed your dog a commercial supplement that helps neutralize the acid and nitrogen-rich urine so that it minimizes the damage. Some homemade fixes, like tomato juice, have unintended side effects, like increased salt intake, so to be on the safe side, consult your vet about the best dietary options.
If you can't break your dog of his shrub-peeing habit and you don’t want to fence in your bushes, take the time to hose down your shrubs daily to eliminate the urine buildup. You can also position automatic sprinklers near your shrubbery to do the job for you and help minimize damage. Another option is to spray a plant-safe dog repellent around your shrubs to discourage your pup from the area.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.