Potty. Loo. Latrine. Privy. Water closet. Porcelain throne. The fact there are so many synonyms for the humble toilet indicate the importance we place on this particular aspect of modern plumbing. Our pets also find the toilet fascinating, but, unfortunately, not for the same reasons.
All this toilet talk begs the question (at least for us): Does your pet drink toilet water? If so, you’re not alone. Because we like to tackle life’s mysteries head on at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital, we have some ideas as to why some pets engage in this unsavory act and what pet owners can do about it.
Why Does My Pet Drink Toilet Water?
While there’s no hard and fast answer to this age-old question, veterinarians and animal behaviorists have some theories, such as:
- Taste – Hard as it is to believe, toilet water may actually taste better than the water in your pet’s bowl, especially if it’s been sitting there awhile. Every time you flush, the water in your toilet bowl is replaced with new water, and that fresh taste may be what interests your pet.
- Nature calls – In the wild, running water is often a safer choice than still or stagnant water. The sound of water running, dripping, or ker-splashing in the commode might sound similar to a creek or stream to your pet’s primeval brain.
- Fun – Cats love to drink from the kitchen faucet, and dogs enjoy lapping water straight from the hose. For many pets, flowing water is interesting and fun, and taking a sip or two just makes sense.
- Solitude – Some pets may prefer the relative privacy and quiet that the bathroom affords, especially if their water bowl is placed in a high-traffic area of the home.
Of course, there are reasons your pet’s penchant for porcelain should be curtailed. The dangers inherent to a toilet-loving dog or cat include:
- Cleaning products – Residues left over from toilet bowl cleaning chemicals, such as bleach and detergents, are highly toxic to pets.
- Pathogens – Human pathogens that are most likely to be found in our toilet bowls, such as E. coli and Giardia, can be passed on to pets that stop by for a drink.
- Medications – Certain medications, such as chemotherapy, can be shed in human stool or urine, posing a potential risk to pets.
Alternatives to the Bowl
Although it may be impossible to completely stop your pet from drinking out of the toilet, you can discourage them in the following ways:
- Remove the temptation completely by keeping the door to the bathroom and/or the toilet lid closed at all times.
- Wash your pet’s water bowl daily and fill it with new water each time to maintain a fresh taste.
- Purchase a circulating pet water fountain; they’re inexpensive and offer pets the fun of drinking from a running “stream” of water, all while keeping the water fresh and filtered.
- Move your pet’s bowl to a quiet, out-of-the-way spot in the home if privacy is an issue.
Increasing your pet’s environmental enrichment may help stem his or her interest in the toilet. Making sure your pet gets plenty of exercise each day, as well as mental stimulation in the form of interactive play and/or food puzzles, can make the toilet seem less interesting overall.
Please don’t hesitate to contact the staff at Animal Kind with any questions or concerns!