Why This Veterinarian Lets Her Pets Drink From the Toilet

Violet Drinking From the Toilet
Courtesy of Dr. Patty Khuly
Dr. Patty Khuly's Belgian Malinois, Violet, drinks from the toilet.

I know, I know. You think I’m a bad mother. And, sure, drinking from the toilet seems likely to top the list of verboten activities for indoor animals. But once you break down the risks and benefits of this common behavior, imbibing “eau-de-toilet” doesn’t seem so gross anymore — not to me, anyway.

It’s not as if I don’t understand your distaste for the stuff. After all, aversive toilet training is part of every human’s formative years. But that doesn’t mean the water contained therein is unsafe or unwholesome… or that you should go to great lengths to limit your pets' access.

Still not so sure? Here are some arguments in its favor:

1. It tastes great! Dogs love toilet water. Cats too, though their reach often limits their ability. The reason for this phenomenon is simple: The stuff must taste great! (Better than what you’re offering, anyway.) To those unencumbered by a commode’s connection to human waste, why wouldn’t a constantly, mechanically refreshing source of water seem the best choice?

Then there’s this to consider: Toilet water seems colder than the average bowlful (porcelain is good that way). And because it’s a place most humans will deign to maintain under pristine conditions…

2. It’s not as bacteria-ridden as you think. It’s not as if I’m advocating the toilet as substitute for your human family’s clean water supply. I mean, I wouldn’t rinse out my toothbrush in it. Nonetheless, the hypersanitary reality of the modern American toilet is such that kitchen sinks and shower drains have replaced toilets as our homes’ most bug-ridden spots. And yet we freak when our hairbrushes take an unexpected dive.

In fact… that toothbrush hanging in a holder over your loo? One study suggests it’s probably dirtier than your toilet’s contents. Ponder that the next time you crinkle your nose at your pets’ next foray into the bowl. 

3. It’s probably cleaner and safer than plenty of other water sources. What? You prefer they drink from the water bucket you haven’t changed in over a day? The planter out back? The water that seeps from under the fence line leading to your “favorite” neighbor’s yard?

Indeed, unless you go in for the blue stuff or those giant mints (you know the products I mean), your well-maintained toilet’s water is probably every bit as safe as tap water. The veracity of this statement does, however, hinge somewhat on your personal attention to toilet hygiene.


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