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Ask A Vet: Why Does My Dog Drink Out Of The Toilet?

Since our dogs are with us all the time, it is easy to forget that they are animals. They have evolved to have inborne natures that help protect them from the dangers in a wild environment. We know that our dogs have us to help protect them, but a dog’s early ancestors did not. All they had was what their instincts told them and what savvy they learned as they lived.

Wild animals prefer cool fresh water to standing water. They instinctively know that standing water is more likely to be contaminated and stagnant. Truly stagnant water does not look or smell enticing at all, but even the water in the water bowl is not as fresh as what is in the toilet, since it refreshes with each flush. Still water is certainly a source of disease for people and hikers/campers know that the best choices are running water (and of course, we know that even these must be treated before we can safely drink them).

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Source: Craig Murphy via Flickr

Dogs see and smell the cool, fresh water in porcelain bowl and they immediately think it is preferable to any that has been standing. They do not know what we all know, that toilet water is likely contaminated with fecal bacteria.

Dogs cannot read on the internet about all the awful things that can contaminate water and they certainly do not know what can grow in your toilet, so they have to rely on their instincts to guide them.

Fortunately, nature has given them great immune systems also, so you needn’t panic if your pooch slurps a little potty water, but it is preferable to keep the clean water in her bowl as fresh and cool as possible. As always, contact your vet if your dog is acting ill, vomits repeatedly or has diarrhea and mention the toilet tendency to your vet. If you can obtain a dog water fountain, your dog can have fresh, clean, running water anytime and you will not have to worry about a “potty mouth”!

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Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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