You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6 a.m.

So your pet drinks from the toilet? Really, it's okay if they do

By Lorrie Shaw


Flickr photo by artgoeshere

Most of us who share life with dogs can attest to the all-to-familiar noise coming from the bathroom: the "slurp slurp slurp" from our pooch getting a refreshing drink from the toilet bowl.

Many people are aghast at the mere thought, and others, like some clients that I chat with on a meet and greet, sheepishly admit that their four-legged friends enjoy a few laps of cold water from the commode if they aren't careful about ensuring that the lid is closed.

Most of those in the latter group seem somewhat relieved when I tell that that not only do my pets do it if given the chance, but most of my charges — both canine and feline — do too.

In fact, a couple of them have stated, "I purposely leave the lid open, just as a backup."

I'm nonplussed when they say that. In fact, for some clients, it's probably not a bad idea.

Are you cringing, gagging, wrinkling up your nose at the notion that I don't have a problem with a dog drinking from the toilet? Considering all of the other stuff that I regularly see pets readily gobble up, spew, emit and do, I say that falls pretty low on the list of disgusting things.

I admit I would rather see them grab a drink from a commode than a dirty pond or an errant outdoor trash can lid that might get filled with rain water after it rains.

In fact, after the experience of having owned a cleaning service for 18 years, I can tell you that with so much emphasis on making sure the toilet bowl is sanitary, It's likely one of the cleanest things in the bathroom. The most germ-laden? The flush handle on the toilet, and any toothbrushes in the room. (Kitchen sinks rank right up there, too -- think of all of the stuff that comes into contact with that surface.)

Quite honestly, I don't encourage the practice of drinking from the toilet, but, no, I don't freak out.

I have yet to find a dog or cat that has decided to quench their thirst with dirty toilet water that someone has forgotten to flush, so that must say something!

I mean, to a companion animal, the prospect of having a content source of cold (thanks, porcelain), clean water in a ginormous bowl has to be terribly tempting.

So if you forget to close the lid (I'm not pointing fingers), don't cringe too much when you hear that familiar sound coming from the other room.

And although there is a risk for stomach upset should you use toilet cleaning tablets in your commode's tank, anything dangerous beyond that is rare.

Evidently, one veterinary professional shares my view on the topic. Patty Khuly, DVM recently addressed this topic on Vetstreet.

Lorrie Shaw leads the pets section for Catch her daily dog walking and pet sitting adventures or email her directly and subscribe to's email newsletters.



Fri, Jun 7, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Sometimes, when I look in the bathroom, there's a queue to get a drink from the toilet. Cats, dog, more cats. Everyone is polite and waits for their turn.

Bob Needham

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 6:43 p.m.

Lorrie, thanks for this. Actually a bit of a load off my mind.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

To my knowledge my dog never drank from the toilet but one year after Thanksgiving she escaped from the house and shortly returned with a whole turkey carcass that some neighbor had thrown away.. MMM NOT GOOD!!

Boo Radley

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 4:03 p.m.

We always close the lids, but our cats have learned to push the lid up and drink out of the bowl. It definitely looks strange when you catch them at it to see the back half of a cat sticking out from under the lid.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Anything but restaurant ice cubes.


Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

While reading your article Lorrie the first thing I thought of is some of the things my dogs pick up and try to or do eat while outside. Ranging from grass and weeds to their own leavings and many things in between. Our dogs don't drink often from the toilet but after what I just mentioned we think it's pretty tame.

Elaine F. Owsley

Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

Our mantra when we had kids and cats was "Flush the toilet; or you'll kill the cat."