Why Dogs Drink from the Toilet (and How to Stop It)

July 25, 2022

dog drinks from toiletSlurp..slurp..slurp. 

You look around. Nope. No one’s home… no one except you and Fido. But, wait… Fido’s water dish is right in front of you. Where’s all that slurping coming from?

Oh no! It’s coming from the bathroom! You rush to the bathroom only to find the water dripping from Fido’s jowls. Sure, he looks happy and refreshed. But you? You’re (rightfully) grossed out. 

“Why does my dog love drinking from the toilet so much?” You ask yourself. We’re going to explore that question as well as the risks of letting your dog drink from the toilet and how to stop your dog from drinking from the toilet in this short blog below!

Quick Facts About Dogs Drinking from the Toilet

  • Dogs drink from the toilet due to its availability as well as their preference for cool, fresh, running water
  • Drinking from the toilet poses a number of health concerns to dogs, including a risk of contracting dangerous diseases
  • The easiest way to prevent your dog from drinking out of the toilet is to close the lid. Ensure they also have easy access to clean water

Why do dogs drink from the toilet?

dog drinking toilet water

Toilets can be an appealing water source for your dog due to the color, smell and cool temperature.

Well, first thing’s first: the water is there and it’s available. If they’re given the opportunity, most dogs will investigate (and slurp) any water source they can find. This is especially true if the water inside of the toilet has an interesting color or smell. An inquisitive dog will (naturally) go up to it to inspect it and, in most cases, drink from it. 

However, it’s not just that dogs drink from toilets because there is water available to them. It may also be because your dog’s primary water source is empty or unappealing. Additionally, if your dog is picky about the temperature and freshness of their water, then a toilet may be very appealing to them. 

How? Simple. Toilet water is cold and it’s refreshed every time that it’s flushed. Plus, if it’s been recently flushed, your toilet’s water may still be moving by the time your pup finds it. This is very appealing to dogs who, like cats, tend to prefer running water due to an evolutionary instinct to view running water as cleaner and safer to drink from. 

Other veterinarian and animal behavior scientists have other theories, though. Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, proposes that the reason dogs drink from the toilet has to do with the comfort of doing so. “It could be that some pets prefer the relative solitude of the bathroom,” Coates says. “If their water bowl is in the middle of a chaotic home, they might not feel comfortable settling down to drink at that location.” 

Okay, so we know now why dogs drink from toilets. But so what? Is there really any harm in letting them lap up a few gulps of toilet water? (We can’t believe we just typed that).

Can toilet water make my dog sick?

dog drinking out of toilet

There are cleaning chemicals and germs lurking on your toilet that can make your dog sick.

Oh yeah. Definitely. It’s not guaranteed, but make no mistake: drinking toilet water can make your dog sick. The reason for this is due to a variety of factors which we’ll discuss more below.

Toilet cleaning agents can make your dog sick

One of the most common bathroom cleaners are little discs of tablets that are used to clean the toilet bowl. These cleaning discs and tablets are located inside or clipped to the side of the toilet. Often, these cleaning tools turn the color of the water blue. 

Now, it’s not as if your dog is going to get sick off of one little lick of this blue water. The chemicals that are inside of these cleaning discs and tablets are diluted, so there’s not a ton of risk of illness from drinking the water itself. The real risk comes from the possibility that your dog may decide to turn those cleaners into their own chew toys. (Fun!)

If your pet manages to secretly ingest or chew on one of these discs of tablets, they can be in for a world of trouble. Many of the chemicals that are used in these cleaning products can be toxic to dogs and can cause burns on the mouth or throat. If you see your dog chewing or biting on one of these cleaning tablets or discs, contact animal poison control immediately. 

Antifreeze can be lethal to your dog

veterinarian care for dog ear infections

Antifreeze used in colder climates can be detrimental to our furry friends.

For those of us who live in colder climates, it’s a common practice to put antifreeze in your toilet to prevent the water from freezing over. Unfortunately, this presents a very real and dangerous risk to your pup if they enjoy using the toilet as a second water dish. 

The germs inside of toilets can make your dog sick

We shouldn’t have to tell you that toilets are, well… about as clean as the stuff that goes inside them. Yes, even if you clean them often. As much as our furry friends may hate to hear us say it, we have to be real: toilets are disgusting and a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of germs. 

According to his conversation with PetMD, Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a veterinarian based in Los Angeles, says the concentration of germs alone is enough reason to prohibit your dog from drinking out of a toilet. “If you were to swab your average toilet there would be an issue,” he says. “If you don’t clean your toilet very often, you are going to put your dog or cat at risk for coming down with an infection, such as E. coli, because our feces can contain that—as well as other bacteria.”

What’s even more worrisome is that the risk for spreading diseases increases precipitously if we ourselves are sick. Humans who are sick risk passing on nasty diseases including Giardia to their pet if their pet drinks from the toilet. Additionally, humans who are chronically ill and undergoing treatment such as chemotherapy are at risk of exposing their pet to toxic chemicals through their toilet.

Of course, we’re not saying that it’s absolutely certain your dog will get sick after drinking from a toilet. Instead, we’re just being real about the possibilities of that happening so you know the risks.

How to Prevent Dogs from Drinking from the Toilet

dog drinks from toilet

Keep the lid down to discourage drinking.

Okay, so you’ve figured out why your dog drinks from the toilet and what the risks are to drinking from the toilet. So what are you supposed to do about it, exactly? Clearly drinking water from the toilet isn’t good for dogs. So how do you stop dogs from drinking from the toilet? Is there anything you can do? Yes, in fact, there is!

Close the lid

This one seems simple because it is. If you want to ensure that your dog has a nearly zero-percent chance of drinking from the white throne, just put a lid on it. Literally! Now, some particularly smart and tenacious dogs might figure out how to lift the lid and get their drink on anyway. We recommend either keeping the bathroom door closed or put up a gate to limit their access to the bathroom altogether.

Keep their water bowl full and fresh

Now that you’ve limited your dog’s access to the toilet itself, it’s time to tackle the root reason why your dog loves the toilet. 

As we said before: most dogs drink from the toilet because the water is cool, fresh, and running. In order to accommodate your dog’s water preferences, consider placing multiple bowls of cold, recently-poured water throughout your house. This ensures that your dog has access to that steady supply of cool, fresh water they so dearly love. 

However, if you discover that the real reason your dog drinks from the toilet is because the water is running, you may have to treat your dog like a cat. No, we don’t mean that you have to start feeding them wet food. Instead, we just mean that you may want to consider getting them a pet water fountain. These little spigots produce a gently trickling stream of water that helps assure your pet that they’re drinking from a safe, clean water source. 

Regardless, remember to consistently fill water sources with fresh water throughout the day. Dogs don’t typically want to drink from stagnant, old water (and who can blame them?), so keeping available water fresh is paramount to encouraging them to drink more.

Make sure their water bowl is right for them

dog water bowl

Make sure their water bowl is the right size.

Unfortunately, some dogs just don’t take to their bowl or other water sources you provide for them. What gives? There’s a lot of factors that go into a dog feeling comfortable with a water bowl. 

For one, dogs aren’t likely to drink from a water source that’s too high or low off the ground. A water bowl that’s too high causes them to crane their neck which isn’t comfortable. A water bowl too low will force them to bow their head to drink. This can make them feel vulnerable and uncomfortable. If you suspect that your dog’s water bowl is the wrong height for them, consider these height recommendations to guide your next steps:

  • Dogs 8 – 11 inches tall need the top of the water bowl four inches from the ground
  • Dog 12 – 15 inches tall need the top of the water bowl eight inches from the ground
  • Dog 16 – 19 inches tall, the top of the water bowl should be twelve inches from the ground
  • Dogs more than 19 inches tall need the top of the water bowl sixteen inches from the ground

Additionally, dogs are actually quite picky about not drinking from water bowls that are scented strangely. If your dog’s water bowl is made out of plastic, it may be giving off a funky scent. Consider opting for a metal or ceramic bowl instead to reduce their uncomfortably and encourage them to drink more.

We know loving dog owners will take these actionable tips to stop your dog from drinking out of the toilet.  You are responsible pet parents who want to keep your furry friend happy and healthy. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog!

That’s why we know that you’ll reach for Banixx when your dog suffers from any number of bacterial or fungal issues including hot spots, ear infections, and more. Banixx is clinically proven to provide instant, sting- and odor-free relief from a variety of maladies without relying on antibiotics or pesky steroids. 

All you have to do is identify the affected area, gently apply Banixx twice daily, and wait. Within no time, your pooch should be feeling as good as new. With Banixx, relief really is that simple.

We hope you found this article helpful and if your dog ever gets any cuts, abrasions, ear infections or hot spots, we hope you keep Banixx Pet Care in mind. Go to our dog page to learn more about how to keep your dog happy and healthy! Check out related blog on what to do if your dog eats a grape. Or maybe you’re interested in how long a dog can go without peeing.

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