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8 Different Types of Dog Toilets

A collage of different types of toilet for pet.

When most people think of a pet toilet, they imagine a cat’s litter box or a little patch of fake grass for a dog. When you explore the options, however, you will realize that there are more types of pet toilets than you likely could have ever imagined.

You could teach your dog or cat to use the human toilet; there are numerous videos online showing just how possible this is. Most pet owners, however, will prefer to go with one of the other types of toilets designed specifically for pets.

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Toilets for Dogs

Most pet owners bring their dogs outside to go to the bathroom. But, what if you live in an apartment with no grass nearby? Or what if the weather is horrible? This is when indoor dog toilets come into play. There are also some outdoor dog toilets that offer an alternative to natural grass.

1. Indoor Toilets with Real Grass

Fresh Patch Standard - Real Grass Pee and Potty Training Pad for Dogs Under 15 Pounds - Indoor and Outdoor Use - 16 Inches x 24 Inches

Many pet owners gravitate towards indoor toilets that are essentially boxes filled with real grass. These offer a natural feeling for your dog, making it more likely that he will feel comfortable with the toilet. They are also very environmentally friendly since they are natural. Grass toilets, however, require regular replacement, typically at least monthly, so the cost can add up.

2. Indoor Toilets with Synthetic Grass

PetSafe Pet Loo Portable Dog Potty, Alternative to Puppy Pads, Large

These toilets typically feature plastic containers that hold synthetic grass. Some dogs may not like them as much as they are not natural, something which also makes them less environmentally-friendly. 

However, you typically do not need to replace the grass, just clean out the tray and rinse the entire toilet. Some of these products have synthetic grass that feels very similar to the real thing. Keep in mind that the synthetic grass will typically move around somewhat, which may cause the occasional mess.

3. Training Pads in Plastic Holders

PAWISE Large Dog Training Pad Holder, Best Portable Puppy Trainer - Indoor Dog Potty - Puppy Pad Floor Tray, 23.6''X23.6''

The most basic type of dog potty is a plastic tray that holds some sort of training pad. The trays tend to be simple to use and set up. However, they are an unfamiliar environment for most dogs, so there may be a learning curve.

These products tend to be smaller as well, making them best for small dogs or puppies.

a. With Disposable Pads

AmazonBasics Regular Pet Dog and Puppy Training Pads - Pack of 100

These plastic trays can work with disposable pads made of cotton or similar materials. These allow for easy clean-up as you just toss the pad, but it produces a lot of waste and costs more, as you must continuously buy new pads.

b. Plastic Reusable Pads or Grates

Blyss Pets Klean Paws Indoor Dog Potty, No Torn Potty Pads! Keep Paws Dry! Protect Floors! Easy Cleanup On Pads! for Puppies, Small Dogs & Cats, 1 Puppy Pad Holder Tray, Guarantee

Other models have reusable plastic mats or grates that the dog sits on. These require rinsing to clean, occasionally with soap. They save you money via less frequent replacements.

4. Self-Cleaning Automatic Dog Toilets

BrilliantPad Self-Cleaning, Automatic Indoor Dog Potty for Puppies and Small Dogs (Original Machine w/Out Drip Lip), Incl 1 Roll

Those with a higher budget can also find automatic dog toilets that are self-cleaning. These use the disposable training pads, typically in a roll. The machine will automatically replace the pad with a new one from the roll between one and three times each day. Sensors ensure they do not do so while the dog is there. The soiled pads sit in an enclosed section of the machine for simple cleanup.

5. Dog Litter Boxes

PuppyGoHere Dog Litter Box Recycled Gray Color: 24"x20"x5" Recycled Gray Colored Pans May Vary in Color. Marks May BE Present. See More Information in Description USA Made

Dog owners of certain breeds are increasingly considering using litter boxes for their dogs. These are just like cat litter boxes, including the use of litter. This is not a good choice for large dogs since they are typically too big for the boxes. Additionally, you should avoid this choice if your dog is destructive or likes to dig, due to the potential for mess. Consider them for smaller, calmer breeds. You could buy a litter box designed for cats, or find one of the few litter boxes specifically made for dogs.

6. Dog Diapers

AmazonBasics Male Dog Wrap Diapers - Pack of 30, Small

An alternative to a dog toilet is a doggy diaper. These are particularly helpful for dogs with incontinence issues or some degree of paralysis. They function just like baby diapers.

a. Disposable Diapers

Simple Solution Disposable Dog Diapers for Female Dogs | Super Absorbent Leak-Proof Fit | XL | 12 Count

As with baby diapers, doggy diapers can be disposable. These will be of a similar material but have a design that works perfectly for canine anatomy.

b. Reusable Diapers

wegreeco Washable Dog Diapers - Washable Male Dog Belly Wrap- Pack of 3 - (Blue,Green,Purple,Small)

You can also opt for reusable doggy diapers, which are typically machine washable. These can even be stylish.

B. FAQs About Toilets for Pets

Why Should You Use an Indoor Pet Toilet?

A dog sits at the corner of a soiled urine pad on the floor.

In the case of cats, dogs, and other pets, an indoor pet toilet may be necessary if the pet never leaves the house. This lack of leaving may be due to the health of the animal, the health of its owner, or harsh weather conditions in the area it lives. In the case of cats and other small pets, the decision to keep the animal inside at all times may be for its safety.

You may also want to consider one of these toilets if there are times when the pet cannot leave the house, despite normally doing so. For example, if your dog is scared of rain, you may encourage the use of the pet toilet during rainstorms but normally have him do his business outside.

Indoor pet toilets can also be a good choice for pets that are having difficulty with being trained to only go potty outside. In this case, it offers them an approved alternative space to go instead of having a messy accident. Indoor potties can also be helpful for pets with bladder control issues.

Indoor pet toilets are also helpful for those who have limited outdoor spaces that their pets can access. This includes apartment dwellers and those living in cities.

Owners may also want to consider getting a toilet for their pet if they work long hours or are gone for extended periods of time. This will allow the pet to relieve itself in an approved location instead of holding it in uncomfortably.

Can You Use a Pet Toilet When Potty Training?

Some dog owners also choose to use simple pet toilets during the toilet training process. This provides your dog with a space to relieve himself that is approved even when he cannot go outside. If you want to train your dog to go to a specific spot to tell you they need to go potty, then you can place the indoor toilet there. They will get used to going there when they need to pee. When you remove the toilet, they will naturally go there to tell you they have to go.

How Can You Train Your Pet to Use Their Toilet?

Placing a kitty on a litter box.

Cats have a natural instinct to bury their waste, so training them to use the litter box is typically as simple as showing it to them. Just place the cat in the litter box and gently rub their paws over the litter. You may need to repeat this a few times.

Training dogs to use the indoor toilet is more complicated, and it is best to start young so the dog is not used to going only outside. Training a canine to use an indoor toilet should involve positive reinforcement and coincide with his natural bathroom routine.

Can Any Dog or Cat Use a Pet Toilet?

Most pets should be able to use a pet toilet. In the case of pets with physical limitations, you may need to find an adaptive option, such as one with a low height.

It is slightly harder to teach large dogs and male dogs to use pet toilets without making a mess. Ensure you buy your larger breed a bigger size so they fit, to avoid this problem. For males, be more conscious of the placement to account for them lifting their legs as they pee. For older male dogs, you may want to cover the surrounding floor and walls with plastic or something similar to prevent splashes.

How Do You Clean a Pet Toilet? How Often Should You Clean It?

The exact cleaning directions will depend on the type of toilet. Frequency depends on the number of animals using it, odors, and the preferences of you and your pets. Some pets will refuse to use a slightly soiled toilet while others do not care.

For cat litter boxes, scoop out the soiled litter at least once a day and dispose of it. About once a week or so, remove all of the litter, clean the box, and fill it with fresh litter.

For disposable dog training pads, just throw them out when they get soiled and replace them. For an indoor grass or synthetic grass toilet, remove the feces first. If there is a pad in place, remove it and clean or dispose of it, depending on whether it is disposable. Remove the grass from the tray and flush any urine in the tray down your toilet. Clean the base with soap and water.

What Happens If You Do Not Clean Your Pet’s Toilet?

The most obvious issue if you do not clean the pet toilet will be the odor. This can make your life unpleasant and discourage visitors.

Additionally, if you do not clean the toilet, your pet may not want to use it anymore. This may result in them going potty in unapproved locations, leaving you with a mess to clean. Alternatively, your pet may hold it in, causing discomfort and medical concerns. In cats, holding in their urine can lead to urinary tract infections, kidney blockage or failure, and/or bladder inflammation.

Unsanitary toilets can also increase the risk of certain health conditions in humans. This is particularly problematic for cat litter boxes, which can spread cat-scratch fever, toxoplasmosis, fungal infections, and salmonellosis.

Where Should You Place Your Pet’s Toilet?

Many people choose to place the pet toilet in the bathroom or laundry room. Ensure the place you choose has a low traffic, your pet has access to it, and you will not mind if it has a mildly foul smell. Most pets, especially cats, prefer small, slightly secluded areas to do their business for some privacy.

How Much Cat Litter Should Place in the Box?

Ideally, you should fill up your cat’s litter box so that the litter is one or two inches deep. Pay attention to your feline’s habits as some cats prefer slightly less litter. Using too much litter will increase the chance of a mess.

What Types of Cat Litter Are There? Are there Alternatives to Litter?

All cat litter will either be clumping or non-clumping. Clumping litter is very popular because it is easier to clean, but it is not safe for young kittens. Some litter is made from silica crystals, and this is highly absorbent, but you must replace all of the litter every time you clean.

You can also find eco-friendly alternatives to litter, including those from wheat grain, walnut, grass seeds, coconut, corn, recycled newspaper, and pine wood. There is also dust-free litter, non-tracking litter, and scented litter.

How Should You Choose a Pet Toilet?

A cat uses a toilet while other cats look on.

To choose the ideal type of pet toilet for your dog or cat, think about your property, including where you will place the toilet, as this lets you ensure it will fit there. Then, consider the size of your pet, the type of cleaning you want to do, your budget, and previous potty training experience your pet has.

 Always make sure that you choose a toilet that is large enough for your pet to use, especially if you have a larger dog. Otherwise, your training may not be successful and you will be more likely to have to clean up messes.

Where Can You Find a Pet Toilet?

You should be able to find most of the more basic pet toilet options at your local pet store, either in the physical store or online via their website. Your veterinary office should also have some pet toilet options available, including some that are harder to find or less common. For specialty pet toilets, including those that are more expensive, you may need to order them online, such as from the product manufacturer.

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