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Does Dog Urine Hurt Trees?

Dogs are wonderfully brilliant little companions that many feel humanity is not good enough for. These loyal little friends will spend their lives trying to please us and bring smiles to our faces. They are charming, sweet, energetic—and a terror for plants and gardens. If you have owned a dog for any significant amount of time, you have likely seen what they can do to grass and flowerbeds. Due to this, the question is always asked, ‘do they pose a danger to trees?’  Call Brown Wood Tree Services CO.

Truth be told, there is very little hard science that has been conducted behind whether or not dog urine can actually kill or harm trees. However, that does not mean that there isn’t plenty of anecdotal, and observable evidence. Let’s talk about what can happen when dogs pee on trees frequently, and why it could pose a problem based on what we know already. 

What Makes Dog Urine Dangerous to Plants? 

Have you ever noticed dead, or yellowing patches in your grass after prolonged periods of letting your dog out to urinate? Over time it might begin to become obvious that your dog’s favorite places to relieve themselves are impossible to keep green and vibrant looking. This is because dog urine is directly damaging to grass. 

One of the main components of dog urine is nitrogen. Dog urine is very rich in nitrogen and will seep into the root systems of the grass rather quickly. While nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for many plants, in excess it can cause something known as ‘nitrogen burn’. This is a sort of chemical burn that causes the plant to burn at the roots and become over-enriched and die rather rapidly. Nitrogen burn is a problem that can occur with almost any plant. From flowers, to bushes, to grass, and yes even trees. 

Will Dog Urine Kill My Trees? 

Since we know that an over exposure to nitrogen can wreak havoc on a lawn or garden, it stands to reason that it can damage trees as well. However, it is a bit more complex than that. If you have a seedling tree that is young, and freshly planted, dog urine can likely kill your tree pretty quickly. However, trees that are older with a more established root system may not suffer as much in this regard. 

Dog urine, when soaked into the soil, will not really drift any further than the base of the roots (or wherever the dog has urinated). This means that in general, the root system of the tree as a whole is relatively safe. Unless you are exposing a tree to consistent dog urination over the course of years, your tree is likely going to be fine. Although you could see some minor bark scarring or above ground root damage over time. 

To summarize, the damage that dog urine can cause to your tree can boil down to two factors: 

  • The age of the tree. 
  • The frequency and amount of urine over time. 

Older and more established trees are very unlikely to suffer–while young and budding trees can die quite fast. 


It’s important to note that in small amounts, the nitrogen contained in dog urine can actually be beneficial to a tree once that tree is grown. You shouldn’t concern yourself too much about the urine becoming problematic if your dog is only urinating on your tree once per day. If that number reaches 2-4 times per day, it could be beneficial for you to take your dog on more frequent walks away from the tree daily. 

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