Dalmatian in the bathroom.

Types of Indoor Toilets For Dogs: Fact Checked By Our Vet

Written By Vedrana Nikolic | Canine Coach, B.A Ethnology & Anthropology, M.A Semiotics.
Edited & Fact Checked By Renae Soppe | B.A Journalism & Science. 
Last Updated: 14th November 2023

Part of being a good dog parent is making sure your canine companion gets enough potty breaks. But on certain occasions, that might not be possible.

In such cases, having an indoor alternative can come in quite handy. But how do indoor toilets for dogs work? 

Well, you have quite a few options to choose from when it comes to inside dog toilets. In this article, we’ll thoroughly discuss each of them, so that you can pick the best option for your pooch.


Types Of Indoor Dog Toilets

There are several types of dog toilets that are all perfectly functional. Which option is right for you will depend on your and your dog’s needs. To help you make an informed decision, let’s talk about each of them individually.

Disposable Pee Pads

Let’s start with the most straightforward option available, which is disposable training pads. These pads consist of three layers. The bottom layer is made of polyethylene, which serves as a leak-proof liner that keeps your floors clean. The middle part contains an absorbent, which is typically some kind of polymer that absorbs liquid and turns it into a gel. Finally, the top part consists of several layers of gauze.

Related: The Best Puppy Training Pads.

Most disposable pee pads can absorb between three and five glasses of liquid, which is more than most dogs pee during the day.. By using some simple maths, you can determine if a pad will be large enough to contain your dog’s business for a specific amount of time.

“As a general rule, healthy adult dogs should be able to hold their urine for 6-8 hours. Normal adult dogs should produce about 20-40 ml of urine per kilogram of body weight over 24 hours. “-  Katie Grzyb, DVM

Some pee pads may contain concentrated pheromones, which will attract dogs to pee on that spot. They might also contain odour attractants like charcoal, to counteract any unpleasant odours.

When it comes to ease of cleaning, disposable pee pads are the simplest and the quickest ones. As soon as a pad serves its purpose, you just need to pack it up and throw it away (2). 

While pretty convenient, you should keep in mind that it’s not the most environmentally friendly option out there. Plus, you’ll have to repurchase them constantly, which can turn out pretty expensive in the long run. Certain brands offer subscription methods, which make the whole process a bit easier and usually provide a discount on the price. 

Welsh Corgi urinating on a pee pad.

Washable Pee Pads

Instead of ending up in the trash, like disposable pee pads, washable pee pads are a great environmentally friendly alternative,  as they come out good as new after giving them a good spin in your washing machine. The fact that you can reuse them many times means they’re better for the environment and they save you money. 

Of course, reusable pee pads need to be made with quality materials, otherwise, they’ll break apart from regular washing and use. Those materials are typically cotton or polyester, and the thicker the weave, the better it absorbs. Of course, these pee pads also feature a leak-proof bottom to prevent damaging the floor.

Pad Holder Tray

Pad holders aren’t designed to work on their own, but together with a pee pad. Basically, they provide a frame that keeps the pee pad in place. That way, your pooch can’t move it around or bite on its edges. 

Furthermore, they also provide additional assurance that nothing will leak onto the floor. That comes useful if you’re using some lower-quality or DIY pee pads.

Pad holders do have some disadvantages. They’re typically made of flimsier plastic, which isn’t suitable for large dogs. The material can bend or even break when heavier pooch steps onto it.

Furthermore, they’re not practical for an indoor puppy toilet. The plastic edges won’t help your young canine associate grass with doing business, so you might need additional training when transitioning to doing potty outdoors.

Poodle toilet training on a pad holder tray.

Artificial Grass Pee Pad

As the name suggests, this type of pad mimics real grass, so it’s very close to the dog’s natural toilet. The idea behind this is simple - your dog will choose to do potty in the place that feels most “normal.” 

Fake grass pee pads are great because they’re easy to clean. You simply remove the artificial turf and rinse it with warm soapy water. Urine will collect into a tray underneath, so you need to dispose of it before cleaning it with soap. You can also use vinegar to ensure no smell lingers behind.

Although it sounds amazing on paper, this type of indoor toilet isn’t foolproof. First, it’s still synthetic, so your canine companion might not think of it as a suitable place to do their business. 

And second, although it’s durable, it’s still disposable. The fake turf needs to be replaced every few weeks, depending on how often it’s used.

Indoor artificial grass potty puppy patch

Real Grass Pad

This is as close as it gets to a real doggy toilet. Basically, it’s hydroponically grown grass in a cardboard box. Realistically speaking, this seems like the most logical place for your dog to do numbers one and two. And because of that, a real grass pad is a great tool for potty training puppies before they get their first shots.

Related: The Best Dog Grass Toilets.

Given they’re all-natural, real grass pads are also biodegradable, which makes them the most environmentally-friendly dog toilet option. 

But of course, it does have a few disadvantages on its own.

A real grass pad can only absorb so much. Depending on your dog’s size and frequency of use, a single pad can last anywhere between one and four weeks. This means you need to replace it at least once a month, which can turn out to be expensive in the end. However, some companies do offer a subscription replacement service, at a discounted price.

What’s more, they might entice puppies to bite on it and try digging, which is a behaviour you surely want to avoid with a spot used for doing potty.

Potty Plant Real Grass Toilet

Automatic Dog Toilets

If you don’t mind splurging on a dog toilet, you can find some pretty inventive tech designs. 

What makes automatic dog toilets so great is the self-cleaning function. This makes them very hygienic and you can keep them in any part of the house. 

The mechanism behind automatic dog toilets is simple. They all feature some kind of a sensor that registers that a dog went potty. Then, they get rid of your dog’s waste by capturing and processing it inside. Some more sophisticated dog toilets can contain even a few days’ worth of business. 

These toilets make your job much easier, but they definitely come at a price. It really depends on whether you really need an expensive robot to do that for you.

Conventional Litter Boxes

Finally, you can use a litter box that’s specifically designed for dogs. The only real difference between a dog and a cat litter box is in the height of the sidewalls. Dog litter boxes have much taller walls to avoid litter getting scattered across the room. That’s especially handy for male dogs, given they lift their legs to pee.

Related: The Best Dog Litter Boxes.

Dog litter boxes can be filled with different materials, but paper pellets are by far the most practical. They’re affordable, dust-free and absorb smell and moisture. 


How Do I Train My Dog To Use An Indoor Dog Toilet

Teaching a cat where to go potty usually requires no effort. Cats have a natural instinct to cover their waste, so they know what to do as soon as they see the litter box.

With dogs, doing the same thing isn’t as straightforward. This is even harder if the dog is already used to peeing and pooping outside. Training a dog to do their business indoors requires time and patience, as well as a lot of positive reinforcement (3). 

Related: How To Toilet Train A Puppy.

One trick that seems to work well is to place the toilet on a place your pooch has peed or pooped before. Dogs tend to choose the same spot for going to the bathroom, so this can speed up the training. In case you’re using a pad, you can place it on top of your dog’s pee accident, so that it soaks up a bit of urine. That way, your dog will associate the smell on the pad with a toilet spot.


Things To Consider When Choosing An Inside Dog Toilet

You have several options for indoor potty training, so choosing between them isn’t always easy. Which option works best for your situation depends on a lot of factors, so let’s analyse each of them individually.

Ease Of Cleaning

There’s nothing fun about cleaning. Especially when it involves your dog’s numbers one and two. And what’s worse, you can’t postpone it or else your house will start smelling like your dog’s answer to nature's call.

So naturally, you want an indoor dog toilet to be quick and easy to clean. That doesn’t get any easier than using a disposable option. But there are many reusable types of dog toilets that require just a bit of water and soap to freshen them up.

Hygiene Level

No matter how clean our dogs might be, their poo can contain microorganisms that can make us sick (4). Their pee is just as bad, as it has a high concentration of ammonia. When it evaporates, ammonia gives off fumes, which can be bad for our health (5). 

So naturally, you don’t want any of your dog’s business to be scattered around the house. To make sure that doesn’t happen, look for indoor toilets for dogs with good absorption or a drainage system. You should also consider models that trap in the odour so that your home doesn’t smell like a bathroom.

Size

Two factors determine the size of the indoor dog toilet of your choice: the number of dogs and how big they are.

If you own a small breed, there’s no need for a dog toilet that covers half of a room. And likewise, a large dog, like a Mastiff, will have a hard time trying to do business on a tiny toilet.

Of course, the number of dogs you own also affects the size of the toilet. Ideally, each of your pooches should have a designated toilet, but in the case of smaller breeds, you can get away by using a single model of a larger size. 

Eco-Friendliness

If you want to reduce your environmental impact, you’re surely on the lookout for a greener dog toilet option. 

While that’s definitely a good cause, you should keep in mind that natural products aren’t always better than artificial alternatives, especially in the long run. So while real grass turf is natural, your dog’s waste kills it after some time and you have to replace it regularly. On the other hand, artificial turf is made of synthetic fibre, but you might never have to buy another one again. When you compare the two, the natural option doesn’t necessarily turn out to be more eco-friendly, in terms of production and transit.  

Affordability

Finally, price is always an important factor in the decision. And in the case of dog toilets, this factor determines your range of options.

What’s impressive is that, if you don’t mind splurging, you can find a dog toilet with more sophisticated technology than anything we own in our bathrooms. And likewise, you can find very cheap alternatives that will do the job when required.

When choosing between a disposable and reusable option, don’t forget to calculate hidden costs for a more pragmatic solution. Is the dog toilet something your pooch will use for a short amount of time (due to young age, injury, etc) or in the long run? And in the case of reusables, how often should you replace them? Take those numbers into account to figure out what makes more sense to your hip pocket.


My Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are many types of indoor dog toilets available. Depending on your dog’s size, age and behaviour, you can find the one most suitable for your situation. From a basic disposable pad to the most technologically advanced indoor dog toilet Australia has ever seen, there’s something for every pooch.

Related: How To Stop My Dog From Peeing On The Bed.

References

  1. Grzyb, K. January 25, 2023. “Why Is My Dog Peeing a Lot?” PetMD. Retrieved March 18, 2023.]https://www.petmd.com/dog/symptoms/why-my-dog-peeing-lot 
  2. Mood, A. February 18, 2020. “How to Potty Train a Dog When You Live in an Apartment” American Kennel Club. Retrieved March 18, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/training/how-to-potty-train-a-dog-when-you-live-in-a-high-rise/
  3. Hoffmann, H. June 30, 2020. “How to Potty Train a Puppy or Adult Dog” PetMD. Retrieved March 18, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/how-to-potty-train-your-dog
  4. Cinquepalmi V, et al. December 24, 2012. “Environmental contamination by dog’s faeces: a public health problem?” Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2012 Dec 24;10(1):72-84. Retrieved March 18, 2023. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3564131/  
  5. Ponder, R. July 21, 2016. “The Bad Effects Of Pet Urine In Our Homes”. LinkedIn. Retrieved March 18, 2023. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/bad-effects-pet-urine-our-homes-roy-ponder-cmr/

Vedrana Nikolic


Vedrana Nikolić is Gentle Dog Trainers Canine Coach, Professional Writer, Anthropologist & dog lover.

With a Masters Degree in Semiotics & Bachelors Degree in Anthropology, studying the communication between animals and humans, Vedrana is able to use her expertise to analyse and review dog products and write informative posts on canine behaviour and training.

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