White and brown-spotted dog licking nose and toilet bowl with text "Drinking From The Toilet"

Dogs do a lot of gross things, and drinking from a toilet is pretty high on the list. But have you ever wondered why?

Why would dogs choose to drink toilet water when they have their own clean bowl? The toilet delivers fresh water which is usually cooler and fresher than what’s in the dog’s water bowl. Standing water is not very appealing.

Pet owners consider it gross that toilet water is fresher than the water in the dog’s bowl. Dogs tend to avoid stagnant water. When given a choice between water that’s been sitting in a bowl for a few days or toilet water, many dogs will opt for the toilet water.

Studies have found that toilet water has lower bacterial counts than other bathroom surfaces. According to the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), a study was conducted on household items to determine the highest counts of concentrated germs. The study tested contamination levels of yeast, mold, and coliform bacteria, including Salmonella and E. Coli. The study ranked the top 10 spots for germs, and the toilet didn’t make the list. However, placing 4th on the list – your pet’s bowl. Pet toys ranked number 7.

How to stop the dog from drinking in the toilet bowl?

• Restrict access to the bathroom and/or keep the toilet seat down

• Change out the pet’s water bowl several times a day

• Try a pet drinking fountain

Colorful cleaning agents that turn the toilet water blue may seem unsafe for pets, but rest easy. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the blue water is unlikely to harm your pet. It is not recommended to allow your pet to consume toilet water regularly. ASPCA says some chemicals found in toilet bowl cleaners are diluted in the water. Some dogs may experience mild stomach upset, or even burns in the mouth and throat when drinking toilet water with chemicals.

If a new water bowl and fresh water doesn’t curb Fido’s toilet bowl drinking habit, talk to a vet. He or she may have some other recommendations to help flush the habit.

National Sanitation Foundation. Cleaning the Germiest Home Items. Retrieved: October 7, 2020. https://www.nsf.org/knowledge-library/clean-germiest-home-items

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Toilet Bowl Water and Your Pets: The Dangers Aren’t Always Crystal Clear. Retrieved October 7, 2020. https://www.aspca.org/news/toilet-bowl-water-and-your-pets-dangers-arent-always-crystal-clear

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