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Truth About Dog's Drinking From Toilet & Other Sources

Source: PetWave, Updated on October 27, 2016
Water Guide:

Outside & Inside Drinking Sources

Many dogs like to drink water from sources other than their fresh clean water bowls. The two most common places where dogs will drink from other than their bowl are the household toilet, and a foreign body of water (puddle, river, lake, etc). In most cases, drinking water from these sources will not harm your dog, but from time to time a dog can become ill if the waters contain certain types of organisms or hazardous chemicals.

House Hold Toilet Bowel

Pets may select toilets for quenching their thirst because the water is often quite cool. Obviously, the pets' own bowl is the preferred source from an aesthetic perspective, but if the water in the bowl is clean, it is most likely that no harm will come of it.

Potential Hazard

If residue-type toilet bowl cleansers are left on the bowl (pucks) or placed in the toilet tank, some of these chemicals could be harmful to pets. If these are in use, it is important to close the lids and the bathroom doors securely. In homes with pets, it is inadvisable to use these products. A problem can also occur if the pet gains access to the bathroom during routine weekly cleaning while the toilet bowl cleaner is soaking the bowl. Some of these products are very irritating/toxic and care should be taken to exclude pets from the bathroom during these cleaning routines.

Foreign Body of Water

The biggest hazards that lake and river waters pose for dogs and cats are the small microscopic protozoan organisms that live in these waters. These protozoans, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, affect the gastrointestinal systems of dogs and cats if they are ingested. Exposure to these protozoans can cause severe diarrhea and intestinal bleeding. Healthy pets can often carry the protozoan without showing symptoms, but if a pet has an underlying illness, is very old or very young, or has an impaired immune system, the protozoan can be dangerous to the pet’s health.

Sadly many of our lake and river waters also contain high amounts of hazardous chemicals such as pesticides. If a pet regularly drinks from toxic lake or river water, the toxins can build up in the animal’s system and slowly poison the animal’s body over a long period of time. The kidneys and liver can be particularly affected by these chemicals if they are exposed to them on a regular basis.

While the dangers of drinking lake or river waters are not high for pets, it is best that they do not drink from these sources. It is not always possible to completely stop an animal from drinking out of a lake or river, but in this case the less they drink the better.

Prevention tips:

  • Provide fresh cold water at all times (may need to change it 2-4X daily)
  • Always bring fresh water sources with you if your pets are going to be around a lake or river
  • If you see them drinking water from these sources direct their attention to their bowl of clean water.
  • Make sure bowls are placed in easy-to-access spots — one may place one bowl on each story of a multi-storied home, especially when pets are old, young, or have mobility problems such as arthritis
  • Add ice cubes to the water in the bowl or use an insulated bowl to help keep the water cold
  • Close doors to bathrooms and keep toilet lids down
  • One can even install childproof locks on the toilet lids for large, strong, or more determined pets.
Basic Care Topics
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