Dog litter boxes are a great option for situations where it’s difficult to get your dog outside to go potty on time. Whether you need it because of bad weather, limited mobility (for you or your dog), a potty-training puppy, or something else, a dog litter box gives your pup an appropriate place to relieve themselves inside.
Each of the products that we recommend here has been hand-selected by Dr. Melody Aitchison-Steed, one of our veterinary experts. Her top pick is the PoochPads Indoor Turf Dog Potty Plus. This dog litter box stands out from others because it features a reusable pad and can be interlocked with additional PoochPads Indoor Turf Dog Potty Plus to create a larger indoor bathroom space.
While this was Dr. Aitchison-Steed’s top choice, she also offers a series of her top tips for what to look for in choosing the best dog litter boxes, a section on who should avoid purchasing them altogether, and she personally selected the best litter boxes for a variety of specific use cases.
In This Article
The 5 Best Dog Litter Boxes
- Best Overall – PoochPads Indoor Turf Dog Potty Plus
- Best Budget – Petco Brand – So Phresh Dog Litter Box
- Best for Large Dogs – MEEXPAWS Dog Grass Pee Pads for Dogs with Tray
- Best for Small Dogs – PETMAKER Artificial Grass Puppy Pad Collection
- Best with Grass – DoggieLawn Natural Grass Puppy Pee Pads
Dog Litter Boxes Compared
Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different models.
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*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers
Who Should Buy a Dog Litter Box
- Dog owners who live in high-rise apartments – If you live in an upper-floor apartment, taking your dog all the way downstairs and outside (then back up when they’re finished) can be a hassle. If your dog doesn’t give you a lot of notice that they have to go potty, they may not even make it all the way outside before going. A dog litter box gives them a quickly accessible spot where they can go to the bathroom indoors.
- Owners of dogs with urinary issues – Small dogs, older dogs, or dogs with kidney disease may all have a hard time holding their urine or only give short notice that they have to go.[efn_note]Jergler D. What you need to know about urinary incontinence in dogs. Veterinarypracticenews.com. Published June 9, 2016. Accessed January 3, 2022.[/efn_note]
- In these cases, an indoor dog litter box gives your dog an appropriate place to go if they can’t make it outside.
- Owners of dogs with mobility issues – Broken limbs, joint problems, and other health conditions can make the actual movement to get outside difficult. Vetericyn. How to Help Mobility in Senior Dogs. Vetericyn.com. Published January 7, 2020. Accessed January 3, 2022. Dog litter boxes shorten the distance dogs have to walk to go to the bathroom.
- Dog owners with mobility issues – Similarly, dog owners may have health issues or injuries that make moving difficult. Dogs’ needs don’t stop just because we have a harder time meeting them, so a dog litter box allows your dog to potty without you having to go through the pain or difficulty of taking them outside.
- Owners of puppies – Having a quick and easy-to-access spot to go potty indoors can help you teach your potty-training puppy where it is and isn’t appropriate to go to the bathroom.
Who Should Not Buy a Dog Litter Box
- Owners who can’t clean up after their dogs – A litter box is easier in some ways than taking your dog outside to go to the bathroom, but the litter box will still need regular cleaning. Owners need to be able to either clean the box themselves or arrange to have it cleaned by someone else.
- Owners who never want to take their dogs out again – A litter box shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for ever taking your dog outside to go to the bathroom. Rather, it’s a supplement for times when taking them out is difficult or impossible. You should still take your dog outside to go to the bathroom as much as possible.
- Owners of very large dogs – Obviously, the larger the dog, the larger the space they need to go to the bathroom. For large dogs, an appropriately sized litter box is very large and would be highly impractical in most homes. Unless you have a lot of extra space, a litter box likely won’t be a reasonable solution for a large dog.
Buying Guide: Research Tips From a Veterinarian
There are many reasons to consider a dog litter box. Perhaps you are training a new puppy or adult dog, you live in a condo or apartment, there is harsh winter weather, or maybe you have a senior dog that struggles to get outside. There are a few things to keep in mind when searching for the best dog litter box.
Once you have narrowed down your choices make sure to get tips from your veterinarian, family/friends, and whenever you are looking at products online double-check the reviews. I also love to look at reviews with photos or videos. Finally, when researching a product make sure you are on a trusted website where the reviews are trustworthy. Once I find litter boxes that meet my criteria I would choose the one that I like the look of.
- Make sure it’s safe – As with anything you get for your pup, avoid a setup that has easily removable parts that a dog may be able to easily chew or swallow. This is especially important for puppies, as smaller objects can be a choking hazard.[efn_note]Animal Friends. 5 dog choking hazards. Animalfriends.co.uk. Accessed January 3, 2022.[/efn_note]
- Choose a setup that’s easy to clean – Avoid a litter box that was too difficult for an individual to easily clean. Absorbent pads make it easy to clean out a box, then a plastic case is easy to wipe down. Other setups can just be completely thrown out and replaced thanks to real grass and cardboard. Mobility issues may put special restrictions on your ability to clean, so keep that in mind when choosing a dog litter box.
- Think about the conditions in your home – Think about how much room you have for a litter box and where you’d like it to be placed. If you have children or other pets in the home, consider if you need to make sure that the litter box isn’t accessible to them.
- Consider your budget – Remember not just the initial cost for the litterbox setup, but also replacement costs for puppy pads, cat litter, or grass (not to mention everything else you need for a new puppy). It may be worth it to spend a bit more upfront for long-term savings on litter.
- Litter box size and shape – The litter box needs to work in your home and for your dog. Consider how much space you have for your litter box and how much space your dog needs to do their business. Then choose a litter box that’s the right size and shape to fit both of those needs.
- Substrate and surface – Most dogs prefer to go on real grass, so it’s great for pickier dogs. However, it needs to be replaced more frequently. This can be pricey and create a lot of waste. Artificial turf is a good alternative that also has the benefit of easy cleaning. You can also use a newspaper, which is a money-saving option if you get a newspaper delivered anyway. Alternatively, various cat litters (such as dust-free cat litter) are also options.
- Appearance – A dog litter box isn’t the most glamorous of home accessories, but it’s still nice to feel okay about the way it looks in your home. Ideally, you can find a dog litter box with an appearance you like or at least one that can be styled or hidden in a way that minimizes how much it takes away from your decor.
How Much Do They Cost?
In general, you can expect to pay $25-$50 for your initial litter box. That includes both the box itself and whatever absorbent material or substrate you need to go with it. However, for most litter boxes, you should also consider the cost of replacing that absorbent material or substrate regularly. How frequently you need to do that depends on the size of your litter box, how frequently your dog uses it, the type of material, and more. You can save money by choosing a litter box that comes with a reusable pad. These pads can be washed so you don’t need a new one every time you clean the box.
Aside from that, the largest factor for cost is size. The largest dog litter boxes can cost around $120.
Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily
As a veterinarian, I see dogs that need an indoor space to eliminate waste quite often. I’ve talked with a wide variety of dog owners about the dog litter boxes that their dogs prefer, and about the owners’ experiences with dog litter boxes. Based on those conversations, as well as my own knowledge of dog behavior and instinct, I’ve chosen these five dog litter boxes as my top recommendations. I selected each one with important features like safety, appeal to dogs, ease of cleaning, and odor control in mind. I’m confident that each recommendation I’ve provided is a high-quality product that you and your dog are sure to appreciate. – Dr. Melody Aitchison-Steed, DVM
The Best Dog Litter Box Reviews
1. Best Overall – PoochPads Indoor Turf Dog Potty Plus
[amazon-box banner=”Our Vet’s Top Pick” asin=”B00N3XG0I2″ title=”For the best dog litter box, you’ve got to go with the PoochPads Indoor Turf Dog Potty Plus.
The PoochPads Indoor Turf Dog Potty Plus is a great all-around option for a dog litter box. It features artificial turf over a reusable absorbent pad to soak up liquid messes. The pad has built-in odor control so you don’t have to worry about harsh odors. It’s also washer safe and is guaranteed for 300 or more washes. You may want to get a second pad so that you can have one in the box and one in the wash at the same time.
This is a small litter box, measuring 24″ x 16″. PoochPads recommends it for dogs up to 20 pounds. However, it can be interlocked with other trays for larger dogs. Combine two trays for 21-30 pound dogs, three trays for 31-45 pound dogs, or four trays for dogs 45 pounds and larger. For multiple dog homes, combine the weight of all dogs present and use the total number to determine how many trays are needed.
- Easy to clean
- Reusable pad
- Comes with a money-back guarantee
- Interlocks with additional litter boxes for larger dogs or multi-dog homes
- Small size
- May slide on hard floors, so you’ll want to add non-slip grips
2. Best Budget – Petco Brand – So Phresh Dog Litter Box
If you’re a budget-conscious shopper, the Petco Brand – So Phresh Dog Litter Box is the way to go.
It’s similar to a cat litter box and works just the same way. Simply fill it with your litter of choice, then scoop and replace the litter as appropriate. When you replace the litter, wipe down the plastic box or wash it with soap and water. You can even use a litter box liner to help make cleaning even easier.
The downside is the size. Even the Large size measures 19.5 x 23.5 inches, though, so it’s on the smaller side. It’s best for small dogs who don’t need a lot of space around them to go. The Small size is 19.5 x 14.5 inches. Each size has five-inch tall walls to help keep the litter inside the box and a 3 1/8 height opening to help even short-legged dogs enter the box.
- There’s no learning curve: if you know how to maintain a cat’s litter box, you know how to maintain this one
- Easy to clean
- Basically unlimited litter options
- Affordable price
- Small size
- Dogs may not warm up to it as easily as grass or artificial turf
3. Best for Large Dogs – MEEXPAWS Dog Grass Pee Pads for Dogs with Tray
The MEEXPAWS Dog Grass Pee Pads for Dogs with Tray comes in three sizes, but the X-Large size is ideal for large dogs, measuring 45 x 35 inches.
This dog litter box uses a multi-layer system: it has an artificial turf pad on top, then a grid, then absorbent pads, and then the bottom tray. The grid between the turf and the pads lifts up the turf so it’s not resting on a damp pad. The turf pads have a durable rubber backing to stand up to scratching and wear. The rubber backing also has holes to allow liquid waste to quickly and easily drain down and be absorbed by the pee pads.
The litter box comes with two turf pads so that you can have one on the litter box and one being cleaned at the same time. The turf can be rinsed in a shower or with a hose then hung or set out in the sun to dry. You may need to deep clean the grass with vinegar or an odor eliminator every month or so to get rid of lingering smells. It also comes with two peed pads, but they aren’t reusable, so you’ll need to buy additional pads separately. MEEXPAWS makes their own pads, but you could also use similarly sized pads from another company. Note that the X-Large box uses two large-sized pads (35.4 x 23.6).
- The tray comes with anti-slip pads to keep it in place
- One of few dog litter boxes that comes in a size suitable for large dogs
- The multi-layer system helps with drainage and odor control
- Comes with two turf pads
- Only comes with two pee pads that are nonabsorbent
- Can be difficult to clean because of the large size
- The turf pad can absorb odors
4. Best for Small Dogs – PETMAKER Artificial Grass Puppy Pad Collection
On the other end of the spectrum is the PETMAKER Artificial Grass Puppy Pad Collection. This dog litter box comes in two sizes: the medium measures 20 x 25 while the small is 16 x 20. This makes it great for small to medium-sized dogs, but not big enough for large dogs.
This dog litter box uses a three-layer system. The top layer is an artificial turf pad, which is followed by a drainage insert, then finally a collection tray. To clean the box, empty the collection tray into the toilet, then clean all parts with soap and water. For even easier clean-up, you can add a pee pad to the collection tray to absorb urine. Reviewers note that you may need to do a deeper cleaning of the turf every few weeks with vinegar, bleach, or an odor eliminator for odor prevention.
- PETMAKER sells replacement turf pads so you can have a spare for while the other is cleaning or just replace yours if it becomes damaged
- Can be used indoors or on a balcony or patio
- Easy to clean
- Small size options won’t take up a bunch of space in your home unnecessarily
- The turf pad may not stand up to persistent scratchers
- Doesn’t come with any sort of absorbent pad
5. Best with Grass – DoggieLawn Natural Grass Puppy Pee Pads
Our last recommendation, DoggieLawn Natural Grass Puppy Pee Pads, stands out from the rest in that it uses real grass. This makes it more instinctive for your dog to use it and manages odors better than artificial turf. It also makes this litter box very easy to set up: just take the lid off, put the potty where you want it, and you’re ready to go. Once the grass has died or the box stops effectively managing odors, you can just throw the whole assembly away, skipping any need for a laborious cleaning process. Since it’s totally natural, there are no plastics that require manufacturing or clog up landfills after disposal. You can even compost DoggieLawn Natural Grass Puppy Pee Pads at home or in most public composting facilities.
A single DoggieLawn Natural Grass Puppy Pee Pad can last anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks depending on the size of your dog and how much they use the litter box. Spraying the grass with water daily can help extend its life of the grass. It comes in Medium (20″ x 24″) and Standard (16″ x 24″) sizes, which are both too small for large dogs. However, you can put a couple of trays side by side for larger dogs, but probably want to put a puppy pad or towel underneath in case your dog urinates through the gap.
- Easy to teach your dog to use since they go on grass instinctively. If your dog is an adult, they’re probably used to going on grass anyway.
- Manages odors well
- Easy to set up and no difficult cleaning
- Hydroponically grown, so there’s no soil, it doesn’t attract bugs, and it’s lighter than regular sod
- A single tray is too small for large dogs
- Some users report leakage from the box, so you may want to place it on top of a tray just in case.
Frequently Asked Questions
Though litter boxes are more commonly associated with cats, dogs can use them too! In fact, they can even use litter boxes designed for cats (as long as they fit) and kitty litter. However, most dogs prefer to go on grass or artificial turf, so most dog litter boxes use one of those two materials. Dog litter boxes also come in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate the many different sizes of dogs.
In most cases, cats learn to use litter boxes from their mothers or just pick it up based on instinct. Training dogs to use a litter box is a little more complicated. Start by observing your dog for signs they need to use the bathroom, like sniffing or scratching by the door, attempts to get your attention, and general restlessness. Then direct them to the litter box either by picking them up and placing them inside or by leading them over. Once your dog uses the litter box, praise them and offer a reward. It’s a good idea to keep a favorite toy or treat near the litter box so you can reward your dog right away when they successfully use the litter box.
If you’re having a hard time getting your dog to use the litter box, you can try starting with the litter box outdoors and encouraging your dog to use it while outside. Then, once you move it inside, your dog should get the idea that the litter box is the place to potty. Inside, remember to keep the litter box in a quiet area where your dog will feel safe using it. Make sure the litter box provides your dog ample space to do their business.
Most dog litter boxes simply use absorbent pads. However, you can also use newspaper or kitty litter. All types of kitty litter can be used for dogs, but your dog may have preferences for which type of litter goes in their box. If you use a real grass litter box, you don’t need to add anything to the litterbox: everything necessary is already there.
The amount of smell from a dog litter box depends on a few things. First, the type of litter box you use. As long as the litter box has something absorbent, whether newspaper, kitty litter, grass, or a pee pad, that should cut down on smell. However, they don’t perform equally well. Potty pads and kitty litter are typically specifically designed to eliminate odors. Grass cuts odors well naturally. The newspaper doesn’t handle odors as well.
The most important thing to do to prevent smell, however, is proper maintenance. Remove feces and replace soiled litter or pads frequently. For a grass litter box, replace the whole box every couple of weeks. Remember to clean reusable boxes regularly.