The Grass is Not Always Greener—Or Cleaner: Problems with a Grass Dog Potty

Indoor dog potties are replacing pee pads when it comes to giving your dog a place to relieve himself inside. Pee pads can make a good temporary solution, but long-term they are very costly and produce a ton of waste, on top of being stinky and unsanitary. An indoor dog potty is a cleaner and less wasteful option for potty training and for dog owners living in apartment buildings, homes without yards, or who are away from the home for long hours.

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Artificial and real grass dog potties are solutions to the need for a doggie litter box, but there are a number of problems with grass dog potties. First, they are very difficult to clean, permanently trap bacteria, and start to smell over time. They are not as cost effective of a solution because the grass must be replaced periodically. Even worse, they don’t dry out very easily, therefore, the dog’s paws get wet using the potty causing him to track urine and bacteria all over the house. The grass solutions are only recommended for use on a porch, which limits the number of situations in which they can be used.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the problems with grass dog potties:

Dirty and Hard to Clean: Grass dog potties have a tray underneath the grass that catches urine, but poop rests on top just like outdoor grass. If the dog goes number two while you’re away from the house, you come home to a stinky mess. Urine gets trapped in the grass every time the dog pees, so it needs daily cleaning to stay sanitary. The problem is you need to clean the grass outdoors with a hose to be able to get it clean, which isn’t always an option when you live in an apartment building or a cold winter climate. And the urine tray requires daily cleaning too, although this can be done indoors. Even with daily cleaning synthetic grass fibers still can absorb and trap bacteria that is easily missed or disguised and eventually becomes soiled over time.

Very Expensive: Because artificial grass dog potties are marketed to people who live in apartment buildings, the most viable option for keeping the grass clean and sanitary is to periodically replace it. The synthetic grass inserts run from about $50 to $75 dollars, while the initial investment for the grass dog potty system costs anywhere from $150 to $200. The system is really only cost effective for potty training and other temporary situations, because replacing the grass for the life of the dog—recommended anywhere from every one to six months depending on the amount of use—can really add up over time.

A Breeding Ground for Bacteria: Not all of the urine reaches the holding tray underneath. Some of it gets caught in the grass and eventually dries—if you’re lucky. The grass often stays wet, depending on how often it’s used, the number of dogs using it, and the size of the dogs. Not only does the grass become stinky and full of bacteria, but also your dog will track their wet paws around your living space if it’s used indoors. Most dogs won’t step in their own poop, but it still exponentially increases the amount of bacteria your dog is spreading around the home.

Best Used on a Porch, Balcony, Deck, or Patio: Grass dog potties can be great for dog training as a temporary solution while your puppy or newly adopted dog is still learning. They help dogs understand that the grass is the right place to go the bathroom, and when placed outdoors, they learn that outside is where the potty is. But because they are so unsanitary, hard to clean, and expensive to maintain, they do not make a viable option for people living in apartment buildings who need a place for their dogs to go when they’re not home or when using the bathroom outdoors means a long walk and/or an elevator ride in the middle of the night.

Not Like a Litter Box: While grass dog potties are sometimes marketed like a doggie litter box, they are very different from cat litter boxes, which are much easier to clean daily and more sanitary because cats instinctively cover their urine and feces with the litter. Grated dog potty systems like the UgoDog indoor dog potty are more like litter boxes because they are made for use indoors, don’t stay wet or trap bacteria, and are easy to clean on a daily basis.

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