By Sari Reis
Does your dog or cat like to drink from the toilet? Although the thought of it may disgust you, there is logical reasoning behind it. In the wild, both cats and dogs learned that the tastiest and healthiest water came from naturally running water such as mountain streams and gurgling brooks. It was cool, clean, and refreshing. Cats are especially drawn to running tap water in the sink and who hasn’t seen a dog delight in drinking from the water hose or sprinkler? Our toilets, which are flushed regularly throughout the day, remind our pets of these cool streams with running water and beckon them to drink there when they are thirsty. So, is it a bad thing for them to drink from the toilet? Well, yes and no.
Some negative aspects of this behavior are:
Cleaning Agents – If you are using drop-in cleaners that keep the water blue or any type of chemical cleaner containing bleach, the water can be toxic and make the animal sick; especially if it has been recently done and the toilet has not been flushed numerous times.
Water Quality – Toilets are breeding grounds for germs and bacteria. If the bowl is dirty and has not been cleaned regularly, i.e. daily, your furry friend could experience gastrointestinal problems.
Falling in – Depending on the water level in the toilet, a small dog or cat could easily fall into the bowl while trying to drink. This could leave them trapped or injured and has the potential for drowning.
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic veterinarian in Los Angeles, is not a fan of permitting pets to drink from the toilet.
”If you don’t clean your toilet very often, you are going to put your dog or cat at risk for coming down with coliform bacterial contamination.”
He suggests keeping the toilet lid down and placing a water fountain close by as an alternative.
Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD, approaches the topic this way.
“When was the last time you dumped and scrubbed your pet’s water bowl? If you can’t remember, chances are the water in the toilet is more appetizing than what’s available in the water bowl!”
She suggests if you want to offer the excitement of drinking from the toilet to your pets without the potential risks, provide one of the many varieties of water fountains available, “particularly for cats who may not drink enough water from bowls to stay well hydrated.” There is one water fountain available that looks just like a toilet bowl.
If you have a pet that will only drink from the toilet, then clean it daily with vinegar or other non-toxic natural cleaner and flush it numerous times after you have done so. Since it is the only source of water for the pet, be sure to keep the lid up so the pet has access. If you have other people in your home, put up a note to keep the lid raised.
Bottom line, as long as the toilet bowl is cleaned daily without toxic chemicals, your pet can drink from it safely. Alternatively, keep their water bowls scrubbed daily and filled with clean, cool water or get a water fountain.
— Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information, you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.