Is It Safe for Pets to Drink From Toilet?

Picture of a dog next to a toilet

One of the strangest behaviors that dogs can sometimes exhibit is drinking water out of the toilet. But is it safe for pets to drink from toilet bowls? In today’s article, we’re answering this question and more, so keep on reading!

Is toilet water clean or dirty?

While some cats might feel less prone to drink from the toilet bowl, there are many dogs that seem to love toilet water more than that which you pour into their water bowls on a daily basis.

The water itself might actually be just as fresh as tap water. Your local supply is usually secure, and the water has already been disinfected after being collected from the main source.

Unfortunately, in some areas, where the water might be less clean than in others, water suppliers add significant amounts of chlorine so that the water doesn’t pose any health threat to the consumers.

Chlorine is dangerous for humans and animals alike. There are many studies that have proven that it is linked with cancer, so it can be considered carcinogenic. So the first reason to prevent your cat or dog from drinking water from the toilet would be that it can contain this substance.

What’s interesting about chlorine is that it’s a gas, so it is naturally released from water in a matter of moments after it ends up in the toilet. Therefore, unless your pet drinks it right after you flushed it, chlorine exposure will be minimal.

While the water itself might be clean, at least to some extent, it basically gets dirty when coming in contact with the toilet bowl. Almost no one uses cleaning products right after using the bathroom, which means that some amount of urine or feces residue will still be present on the porcelain.

Germs that could exist in toilet water

Home toilets are less likely to pose a threat to pet health so long as they are cleaned on a regular basis. Public restrooms, on the other hand, will have toilets rich in microorganisms such as the following:

  • E. coli
  • Streptococcus spp.
  • Staphylococcus spp.
  • Shigella spp.
  • Giardia 

As you can see, there is a lot of variety when it comes to the microorganisms contained by toilet water, but in fact, there might be many more. You do not know whether the water itself is not contaminated with other germs, so those will add to the ones you have produced with urine and feces.

Why are some pets attracted to toilet water?

While cats might be less attracted to toilet water, many dogs seem to love it. The reason dogs seem to like drinking from the toilet bowl more than they do from their regular bowl is that the water there is simply fresher.

If you work from home, you will probably use the bathroom at least several times during the day. Therefore, that water will be replaced more often than the one in your dog’s bowl – since most parents change their pooches’ water once a day.

On top of everything, some dogs are just curious, so they will try to get into every place that might be off-limits to them. You probably know that some dogs like to accompany their owners even when they go to the bathroom, so that is not a room that will be beyond their reach if you allow them to have access to it.

Toxic cleaning products

Although upon coming in contact with the surface of the toilet, the water might get contaminated with some germs, the truth is that most homeowners do a good job of cleaning their toilets. But not all toilet-cleaning products are pet-safe.

Some can contain toxic chemicals such as chlorine, sodium peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, or hypochlorite salts. Even if you like to be eco-friendly and clean your toilet with baking soda and vinegar, these two might still not do your dog any good.

Moreover, some of these cleaning products advise that they are sprayed or applied on the porcelain and left to do their job for as long as 6-8 hours. You can’t control when your dog drinks water from the toilet bowl and if it’s going to happen during this time span. If it does, your dog might develop mouth burns or digestive distress due to ingesting or coming in contact with these toxic chemicals.

Unfortunately, there are few to no pet-safe toilet cleaners available out there, so you can’t just replace the one you typically use.

Preventing your pet from drinking out of the toilet

If your dog seems to be interested in drinking fresh water rather than the one you’ve poured into his bowl, perhaps it’s time to make a change. Get a pet fountain. This gadget is specifically designed to circulate and oxygenate water in a continuous manner, so it will seem fresher to your dog.

You can also always keep the bathroom door closed, and the toilet seat down at all times. The lid can be lifted by smart dogs, but it will at least present another obstacle.

Finally, when everything else fails, you can get a toilet-specific repellent, which usually contains a substance that dogs hate, so they will stay away from the toilet bowl.

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest
Cristina Vulpe PhD

Cristina Vulpe PhD

With a PhD in Veterinary Oncology, Dr. Cristina Vulpe loves researching and writing about the things that she’s passionate about. These range from animal nutrition and welfare to pet behavior, infectious diseases, and parasitology. In her spare time, she’s always in the company of her cat and a good book.

Leave a comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top