Does Your Dog Drink Toilet Water? Here’s How to Break the Habit

| Jennifer Phillips April

Why do dogs drink toilet water? Discover the reasons why they do it & 3 ways to end your pup's unsanitary habit & prevent sickness from drinking out of the toilet.


Do you often hear lapping water coming from the bathroom? Does your dog usually emerge with a dripping chin soon after?

If you have a dog that loves drinking toilet water, you’re not the only one. Pet behavior experts say it’s a common bad habit shared by most canines.

As you might think, there are several health concerns related to choosing the toilet as the preferred water source. Fortunately, there are easy solutions to stop your pup from drinking toilet water.

Why Do Dogs Drink from Toilet Bowls?

To humans, drinking directly from the toilet is gross. We prefer clean water shipped overseas from pristine mountain streams. Or at least purified tap water.

You’ve probably wondered why on earth your dog would choose the toilet bowl as their version of a clear mountain stream? They have a perfectly good water bowl available.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) points out that dogs frequently seek out toilet water for the following reasons:

  • It’s cold

  • It’s fresh

  • It’s in a quiet space

  • It’s moving (after a flush)  

If you live somewhere warm, your pup might prefer the cool water found in the privacy of the bathroom. Other pups prefer moving water and, unless you have a pet fountain at home, the toilet may be the closest thing they can get to a fresh, trickling stream.

Can Toilet Water Make My Dog Sick?

Unfortunately, yes, it is bad for dogs to drink toilet water.

Drinking toilet water isn’t a harmless habit, and there can be real consequences. By ignoring this problem, your pet runs the risk of picking up germs or, worse, becoming extremely ill.

PetMD veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney explains that bacteria swarm toilet bowls, including the deadly E. coli found in feces. Even after flushing, millions of microbes remain on the surface of the toilet. In addition, people who take medications or are undergoing chemotherapy or other treatments can pass chemical substances on to their beloved pets without even knowing it!

Toilet cleaning products are often toxic too. If your pup ingests bleach or other chemicals from a bottle of toilet cleaner, it can land your pooch in the emergency room. Cleaning products can also cause chemical burns, stomach aches, and poisoning.

Now that you know drinking from the toilet is more than just a gross habit, here are some ways you can prevent your dog from gravitating toward the bathroom.

How Do I Stop My Dog from Drinking Out of the Toilet?

Keep Their Water Bowl Full

The first (and most obvious) way to break your doggy’s dirty habit is to make sure their water bowl is full of fresh water at all times. Depending on your dog’s size, you might opt to refill it a few times a day. Hill’s Pet tells us that dogs need to drink one ounce of fluid per pound of body weight. Of course, if your dog is active, they’ll need more water, especially if it’s hot outside.

Another technique is to multiply your dog bowls. For example, keep one bowl of water in the kitchen and another in a secondary location near your pup’s favorite hangout spot. This way, your dog always has access to two water sources.

Close the Lid

Hopefully, this tip is a no-brainer.

Get everyone in the household on board with lowering the toilet lid after use. Keeping the lid down is an easy way to keep your pup from drinking out of the toilet. If children keep forgetting, shut the bathroom door.

Make this a habit, and your pup won’t have access to the toilet bowl.

Encourage Use of a Proper Bowl

For whatever reason, your dog doesn’t like drinking from their bowl. So, what can you do to make it more appealing?

Consider the height of your current water bowl. Is it too low? Too high? Many tall dogs prefer a raised bowl. That way, it’s more comfortable for them to eat and drink because they don’t have to bow their head as low. You can even get nice wooden stands that hold your dog’s bowls at the proper height for them.

Also, pay attention to where you keep your dog’s water bowl. Is it in a high traffic zone? If so, that could make drinking water a stressful experience. Can you move it to a quieter location?

Lastly, inspect the bowl itself for problems. Is it clean? Washing the bowl thoroughly may make your dog more inclined to drink from it. What’s the bowl made of? For example, plastic bowls can hold unpleasant scents, and some dogs prefer ceramic or metal bowls.

Final Thoughts

If your dog drinks from the toilet, don’t get too bent out of shape. It’s a common problem for pet owners and, using these tips, you have a good chance of preventing your dog’s unsanitary hydration habits. It may be that all you need to do is keep the bathroom door closed and refill your pup’s water bowl more often. Some solutions are simple.

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Jennifer Phillips April

A connoisseur of fluffy pups, Jen Phillips April started writing about dog health back in 2005 with a dog treat recipe site. Now she writes for multiple pet brands, veterinarians, and pet tech.


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