What Makes Toilet Water Harmful to Dogs & Cats?

Don't let your pooch drink from the toilet.
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Dogs and cats look for cool, running sources of water for a tasty drink to quench their thirst. Unfortunately, they may view your toilet as a giant drinking bowl for their refreshment. Toilet water isn't just potentially dirty but may also contain cleaning chemicals that could hurt your little one.

Cleaning Agents

The main danger of your kitty or pup drinking water from the toilet is the possible presence of toxic cleaners inside. Chemicals from toilet cleaning tablets placed inside the tank and residue from cleaners used to scrub the bowl, like chlorine bleach, can make your furry friend sick if he ingests them, according to PetWave. In addition, if your little one is used to drinking toilet water, he won't realize he shouldn't be taking a sip when you're soaking the bowl with a cleaner. Any cleaners can be toxic to your little buddy, especially in larger amounts, some causing chemical burns of the mouth and throat, according to PetPlace. At the very least, your pet will likely experience some gastrointestinal upset or vomiting if he ingests even a small amount of toilet cleaning chemicals.

Chemicals in the Water

Some people place antifreeze in their toilets during the winter to prevent the water from freezing. Antifreeze is toxic to cats and dogs, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. This can make a visit to a friend's house or vacation home a potential danger to a pet used to sipping from an open toilet. To avoid such situations, don't let your pet become used to drinking from them and check toilets before allowing your four-legged family member access to them.

Water Quality

While the quality of the water inside the bowl can be the same as from the tap if the toilet is very clean, this is typically not the case. Toilets are a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, which can make your pup or kitty sick when he drinks it. Your furry buddy could experience gastrointestinal issues after drinking from a dirty, bacteria-filled bowl, especially if the water is stagnant or especially filthy, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Cleaning your toilet daily could help alleviate some of these issues, but be sure to use a pet-safe cleaner like vinegar or baking soda. It's best just to keep the seat down and your little guy out of the bathroom altogether.

Falling In

Allowing your kitties or pups to drink from an open toilet may not only be dangerous because of what is in the water, but because of the level of the water. Smaller dogs and cats can easily fall into the bowl, becoming trapped, injured and drowning in the high level of water inside, warns the American Animal Hospital Association. This is especially a concern for kittens and puppies whose curiosity, and thirst, can get the better of them, leading to tragic consequences.


To keep your furry buddy from sipping his water from the toilet bowl, give him a pet water fountain instead. Cats or dogs that like to drink from the toilet do so because they like fresh, running water more than the stagnant water in their dish, and toilets are frequently flushed to refresh the water. Pet fountains work on a similar principle, constantly moving and filtering the water to keep it fresh. These pet fountains are available in pet supply stores and provide your kitty or pup with a source of cool, running water. Keep the toilet seat down to discourage your little one from drinking from it and place the new fountain in an area your pet can easily access to encourage him to use it instead.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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