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Just about every dog or cat who is inside will go to the toilet for water. For us humans, this is odd, unsanitary behavior, but for the average pet, it’s perfectly normal. As pet owners, we can’t help but scratch our heads and wonder, “Why on Earth would my pet want to drink out of the toilet?” This leads many veterinarians to respond with, “Well, when was the last time you gave your pet’s water bowl a good scrubbing?”

If you can’t remember the last time you cleaned your pet’s water bowl, the toilet water may simply taste better! Another reason could be the fact that your dog or cat is instinctually drawn to the sounds of a running toilet. In nature, running water is fresher and safer than standing, stagnant water. So, your pet’s natural instincts may pull them to a running toilet because it mimics the sound of a flowing stream or river.

Pets Are Drawn to Flowing Water

If you have a cat inside, all you have to do is turn on the bathroom sink and they’ll quickly jump up on the counter and drink the water. Same with dogs outside. Dogs tend to love drinking water out of a hose, sprinkler, or even a drinking fountain at the park. Instinctually, dogs and cats are attracted to “moving water,” including the moving water that flows through our sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets.

Some pets are simply drawn to toilet water because bathrooms are quieter and offer solitude. For example, if your pet’s water dish is in a chaotic kitchen, your pet may be more comfortable drinking in a quiet bathroom. So, are toilets harmless to pets or should you try to keep them away from the bathroom for good?

Generally, it is NOT safe for pets to drink toilet water because:
  • Toilets pose a risk of bacterial contamination, such as E. coli.
  • Humans can pass certain diseases, such as Giardia to their pets through contaminated toilets.
  • Humans undergoing certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, can release toxic substances in their stool, which can affect pets.
  • The chemicals used to clean toilets can be hazardous to pets’ health.

We are with vets on this one – we are not fans of pets drinking out of toilets for the above reasons. The best way to protect your pet’s health is to keep the toilet lid down and the bathroom door shut. You can also clean your pet’s water bowl at least once a week and keep several bowls of clean, cool, fresh water for them to drink.

If it’s difficult to keep your toilet closed because you have small children in the house, or a lot of bathroom traffic, our advice is to clean the toilet with non-toxic cleaners as much as possible and keep your toilet scrubbed and clean. Lastly, avoid using the dyed toilet bowl cleaners that keep the water blue – and poisonous.