A Fountain of Youth
One reason your dog is attracted to the toilet is that the water is often flushed so it's fresher and more oxygenated than water sitting in a bowl all day.
From a dog's perspective a clean toilet bowl is like a fountain of youth. It's like a giant water bowl that keeps the water cleaner and cooler (porcelain does a great job in this) than the water bowl kept in a warmer, high-trafficked area.
Given the choice, dogs by instinct choose running water over water sitting for some time. After all, in nature, running water is generally healthier than stagnant water which may contain harmful bacteria, molds, parasites and algae.
On top of that, consider that porcelain doesn't alter the taste of water as a water bowl made of metal or plastic does. This is why you'll never see professional wine tasters using plastic cups or professional beer lovers drinking from cans.
"Eau de Toilette"
Another reason to consider is that a toilet bowl is readily available. Your dog may visit the bathroom on a hot day and stumble on the toilet with the lid accidentally left up, and if by chance he's thirsty, as an opportunistic being, he'll of course take a sip.
Bathrooms also tend to be the coolest rooms of the house, and of course, that's a big plus. On top of this, the height of the toilet surely makes it extra convenient, and since it's sitting right there, the toilet is a like a fancy goblet that cannot be ignored!
A Dangerous Practice
Water from the toilet can be fresh and better-tasting that water from the bowl, but it can harm dogs because of the residue of cleaning products, not to mention, the many chemicals found in tap water.
If your dog regularly drinks out of your water bowl, he may accidentally stumble one day on water that was treated with chlorine bleach, Lysol and other harmful products such as antifreeze when a vacation home has been winterized.
Several of these products can be caustic and cause chemical burns to the mouth, tongue and stomach, explains veterinarian Debra Primovic. In case of exposure, you'll have to rinse the dog's mouth to try to flush out as much as possible and then contact your vet immediately for further directions. Do not induce vomiting as if a product burns going down, it can burn once again when coming back up, delivering a double whammy.
And what about those toilet tablets people use which often turn the toilet water blue? According to the ASPCA, drinking water that was treated with toilet tablets when used as directed should not be causing major problems other than a minor stomach upset, but if you suspect your dog has ingested the actual tablet or disc that goes in the toilet, you should contact your vet, emergency center or poison control immediately.
Now That You Know...
While us humans feel rather squeamish about bathrooms, using products to kill germs, and closing the door for the sake of privacy, dogs on the other hand, don't seem to have any reserves. Dogs roll in poop, raid the trash can and eat from kitty's litter box, so they can care less about drinking water from toilets.
However, either because of hygiene matters (who wants to clean up a trail of spittle) or perhaps heath concerns, dog owners may wish to keep Rover away from the toilet bowl. Following are several tips.
- To keep your dog safe, it's best to keep that toilet lid down or the bathroom door closed. Out of sight, out of mind.
- If your dog is a "potty mouth" who often enjoys "eau de toilette," consider checking if your dog has access to fresh water from bowl. Maybe it's time to fill it up or change it with fresher water.
- Switch to a metal or ceramic dish. Some dogs dislike their plastic water bowls because plastic tends to absorb odors and gives water an unpleasant off taste.
- If you figure out that your dog isn't much fond of water bowls but thinks water from the toilet is the equivalent of a bottle of Perrier, consider investing in a pet fountain to enjoy. A pet fountain offers filtered, flowing water which adds to its appeal.
Did you know? When dogs drink they use their tongues as a ladle in a conveyor-belt fashion transporting dollops of water to their throat.