Need to know how to keep dogs out of the litter box? If you’re among the 60% of homeowners who own both dogs AND cats, you probably struggle with this problem. Many vets will tell you that the protein content of your cat’s poop makes it irresistible to dogs. Other experts may say it’s boredom, but whatever the case – it’s not good!
Obviously eating poop is gross and unsanitary for your dog. But thinking beyond that, it’s also a major issue when a dog starts eating poop out of a cat litter box due to the litter itself. Here’s the thing- most litters are clay-based, and since the cat litter sticks around the poop as it gets buried within the litter box, your dog will also be eating the litter too.
Clay swells as it comes in contact with liquids, so as it goes down the dog’s digestion track it can get stuck and cause blockages. This wouldn’t necessarily happen immediately, but if your dog makes a habit of snacking out of the cat pan, it’s certainly a risk.
And that is a risk you probably don’t want to take, considering it’s life-threatening and can cost you thousands in vet bills if they need surgery to get the blockage out.
This can all be avoided if you make reasonable attempts to keep your pets away from the cat litter box. There are a few ideas you can try.
Keep your litter boxes where the dog can’t access it
This one is probably the most obvious, but simply putting the boxes somewhere the dog can’t get into should be enough to keep them out.
Here are a few ideas on how to accomplish this easily:
Use a door strap
The door strap is a product that attaches between the door and the door frame. Basically it allows the door to stay open enough for cats to squeeze in, but not (bigger) dogs. Obviously, this solution only works if your dog can’t fit through the opening too.
This could work well for bathrooms, closets, bedrooms, or even a basement.
Install a cat door
An alternative to using a door strap would be to install a cat door on any doors you want to keep litter boxes behind. This is a bit more intrusive as it requires you to cut a hole in the door, so before you do this you might want to consider trying a door latch first.
Put them up high where your cat can jump, but the dog can’t
If your cat jumps well, you can try elevating the box to somewhere the dog can’t access. This would depend on a lot of different variables as to whether it’d be a good solution or not. Is your cat a good jumper? Can your dog jump? Do you have any areas in your house that’d work for a set up like this?
If your cat isn’t a great jumper, you don’t want to discourage them from using their box so try a different method instead.
Get a dog-proof litter box
Dog proof litter boxes are really just any type of litter box a dog wouldn’t be able to get into. There are a lot of different kinds, but common ones are covered boxes or top-entry litter boxes.
A covered box has a top with a front entry door that will let your cat get in but not most dogs. Again, obviously, if your dog is small this won’t work if they can just crawl in the entry door too!
A top entry litter box is an enclosed style that has a door on top, so your cat has to jump in from the top instead of just walking in through a front door. Some cats might not prefer this style, but it is a good solution if you need to keep a dog out and your cat doesn’t mind. This might also be a better option if you have a smaller dog, as a dog would be less likely to jump in from the top.
Litter box furniture: An alternative to a covered cat box would be to use litter box furniture, which essentially is any furniture that is built with the intention of keeping a litter box inside for your cats. Typically this would be pieces like cabinets, benches, or nightstands. But it could be anything and easily made yourself.
You can even repurpose an empty cabinet space for a DIY hidden litter box! Or get one of those hidden litter box faux plants! Those are really neat.
The good thing about investing in something like this is it opens up your options on places you can actually put your litter box, and it can make spaces with litter boxes much more attractive as you aren’t staring at an obvious litter box!
Keep the litter clean!
If you keep the litter as clean as possible, this will prevent your dog from having too many opportunities to come around stealing a snack from the box.
Using a clumping litter makes this job a lot easier, as you can just simply scoop out all the cat waste and throw it away multiple times per day, without even changing the litter.
You can scoop out the feces from the non-clumping litter as well, but it may be a bit more difficult. If you can use a clumping litter instead, I’d recommend it. (If your cat allows it)
If all fails, get a corn-based litter.
Remember that clay-based litters are terrible for dogs to consume. They can cause GI issues if eaten in large quantities and your dog might end up needing surgery to remove a blockage.
So if you have tried everything and nothing seems to work, you should switch to a corn-based litter. This will at the very least be better for your dog’s digestion as corn can easily pass through their system (unlike clay).
Just attempt to keep it clean as much as you can, and try to keep it out of the dogs reach if at all possible.
What has been your biggest challenge with keeping your dog away from the litter box? Let us know in the comments below.