Your dog likes to drink from the toilet? It’s not only disgusting but also dangerous

László Enikő

2024. June 12 - Photos: Getty Images Hungary

When it comes to strange dog behavior, drinking from the toilet often tops the list. But just how harmless is this disgusting habit?


Does your dog ever do things that make you cringe? Drinking from the toilet is common behavior in dogs, which understandably grosses out their owners. But while it seems strange to us, dogs have good reasons for doing it.

Fortunately, small dogs, due to their size, are unable to drink from the toilet

Why are pets attracted to the toilet?

The fact that water flows in the toilet says a lot about your pet’s instinctive nature to seek running water in the wild. According to veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Coates, running water is generally a healthier choice than standing water in a natural environment. “Perhaps some of our pets are instinctively drawn to running water, which is why they are attracted to flowing water in our homes,” she says. For example, this is why cats often prefer to drink from the kitchen tap. However, dogs find it harder to reach the tap, so the toilet proves to be a better solution. Many dogs like to drink from the garden hose, and this behavior can also be traced back to ancient instincts. Another veterinarian attributes the strange habit to instinct as well, but suggests that dogs are instinctively inclined to search for water and food. This is why they rummage through the trash and drink from the toilet.

“It’s possible that some pets prefer the relative solitude of the bathroom. If their water bowl is in a busy, central location, they might not feel comfortable in that spot,” she says. But of course, it’s also possible that your pet’s bowl has run out of water or the water has become too warm, prompting them to turn to the toilet instead.

Are the dangers of drinking from the toilet real?

The danger is indeed real, which is why veterinarians strongly advise pet owners not to let their pets drink from the toilet. If the toilet is not frequently cleaned, your dog can contract an E. coli infection, as feces contain numerous different bacteria. Additionally, humans can transmit Giardia to their pets this way. Pet owners undergoing chemotherapy can excrete toxic chemicals through their stool and urine. While the risk of such exposure is small for dogs, there is still a possibility that it could happen.

But it’s not just infrequent toilet cleaning that can be a problem, but frequent cleaning as well. This is because the dog can ingest various chemicals used to disinfect the toilet. Many people use hanging toilet bowl cleaners that continuously dispense into the water. This can be potentially lethal for dogs.

How can you get your dog to stop this behavior?

The obvious answer is to keep the toilet lid down or the bathroom door closed. But apart from these, there are a few other things you can do. The trick is to make their water bowl more appealing than the cold toilet water. Keep it fresh and cool by changing it at least twice a day, and add some ice cubes on hot summer days. If your dog still heads for the toilet even then, you can try a dog fountain that circulates water to keep it fresh.

Not only cleaning products are dangerous. Click here to find out what you should not bathe your pet with.

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