Why does my dog drink out of the toilet?

Given the opportunity, most dogs seem to prefer lapping from the toilet than from their water bowl, so what is it that makes bathroom drinking so appealing?

Experts believe that dogs have a primal instinct to seek out fresh, running water wherever possible. In the wild, standing water is likely to be stagnant and a dog could risk becoming very unwell if they were to drink from it. Running water is a much safer bet as it’s more likely to be free from contaminants. A recently flushed toilet may still trickle water and it could be this movement that attracts a dog’s attention.

Secondly, some dogs are just fussy when it comes to the temperature of their drinking water. Water in a toilet bowl will be colder and it is refreshed every time you flush. If a dog’s water bowl runs dry or the water sits at room temperature for a long time, they may seek out an alternative water source.

Risky business

Drinking out of toilets can be dangerous for animals. A dog could ingest bacteria or chemicals from medications that have passed through human waste. A regularly cleaned toilet can pose an even bigger danger though as cleaning products contain toxic chemicals that can linger on the sides of toilet bowls even after repeated flushing.

If you know that your dog has been drinking from a toilet and there is a chance that they could have ingested chemicals, look out for signs of poisoning. These include vomiting, diarrhoea, seizure, loss of appetite, lethargy, and bleeding from the bottom or nose. If you notice any of these, your pet will need urgent medical attention.

Kicking the habit

The simplest and most obvious way to keep your dog safe and out of the toilet bowl is by preventing access to it. Always put the toilet lid down, keep the door closed or use a baby gate to keep your pet away.

As a general rule, a dog should drink 50ml of water per Kg of body weight to avoid dehydration. You can encourage your dog to drink safely by making their drinking bowls more inviting than the toilet. Here’s how:

  • Use multiple bowls around your house so that your dog has a choice of drinking location
  • Change the water several times a day to keep it cool and fresh
  • If your dog prefers cold water, you could pop an ice cube or two in to keep it colder for longer
  • Make sure water bowls are washed regularly
  • Try using bowls made from different materials. For example, some dogs prefer drinking out of ceramic to metal or plastic
  • If your pet only wants to drink from running water, you could buy a pet drinking fountain. These bowls provide a continuous flow of fresh, filtered water throughout the day.


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