Many houses have a room with a large white bowl that is regularly refilled with fresh water. The door is open unless the room is occupied. The bowl holds much more water than any water dish. Unlike the water dish, the bowl is refilled several times a day with cool water. If you are a big dog or an agile cat, what is not to like about this fancy porcelain bowl?

From the pet perspective, a toilet bowl has a lot to offer for drinking water options. Given the places their tongues go and the things they eat, the toilet is not as dirty a place as a person might imagine.

Assuming a toilet has water coming from a fresh water supply (without additives) and the bowl is cleaned regularly, is it safe for a pet to drink from the toilet? Are there any studies or research linking drinking water from the toilet bowl to health issues in pets?


3 Answers 3


I'm not aware of any studies or research showing there's a problem for the pet. This article sums up the current knowledge pretty well.

But, honestly, there’s nothing in the bowl that she wouldn’t be better off not having.

The short version is that as long as you don't have additives in the water and you're flushing after you use it, the water in there is likely to be cooler and fresher than the water in the pet's water dish. As the article points out, cool, flowing water indicates to the pet's instincts that the water is safer to drink, as it is less likely to harbor dangerous algae than warm, still water.

I can say from my experience that even a not terribly agile cat can drink from the big porcelain bowl - my 18 year old cat with arthritis manages to get herself up on the seat and drink from the bowl. She usually manages to get her feet wet and splash water everywhere as well... Curiously enough, the two younger cats (one is 6 and the other is 8) don't show any interest in the big white water bowl.

The article suggests that if you don't want your pet drinking from the toilet, a pet drinking fountain that's providing a constant source of flowing water is likely to help.

  • 6
    Mind you, that presumes you have no additives in the system (e.g. 2000 flushes).
    – Joanne C
    Nov 15, 2013 at 13:44
  • 1
    or just put the lid down, only a large and smart dog will then be able to get to the water Jan 7, 2014 at 17:08

The level of toilet water varies between countries dramatically. In some countries toilet bowls are largely filled with water in others there is only a couple of inches of water in the bottom of the bowl.

A comparison between where pets may put there mouths and finding worse germs that from a toilet bowl is a debatable assertion. A bowl designed to take human waste is by no means a suitable place for animals to drink from. Any gastric bugs that may be present within a person may be found in the bowl and may or may not be harmful to a pet.

Frequently dogs will drink uneventfully from a toilet bowl. A toilet bowl with chemicals in it will be less enticing for a dog to drink from. Dog's immune systems are very different from people and their guts seem to withstand many organisms that could kill or at least hospitalise a person.

Having said this, just because a dog may not be harmed from drinking from a toilet, there is no benefit from allowing a dog access to a toilet as a drinking source. It is a place for people to defecate, a bowl kept for the exclusive purpose to provide fresh drinking water is the best option.

As for cats, there is the added possibility of drowning.

Toilet doors can be closed and toilet lids are best kept down to prevent pets from drinking out of them, or worse still drowning in them. (or for families with toddlers, to stop them from playing in them!)


I would watch out, don't use cleaning solvents with the toilet he uses, but besides that it's quite innocent. One of our dogs for example, prefers drinking from the 'river' made in the garden and a lot of birds wash themselves in there... I think that, because a cat is a hunter and kills birds and also then comes a lot in contact with bird/mouse scat and stuff, so that a clean human toilet is not a problem.

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