What if my dog licks water in the toilet bowl?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – my dog occasionally licks the toilet bowl when my kids don’t close the lid. Is this dangerous?


Emma N.


Hi – thanks for your email Emma. You wrote that you dog licks the water in the toilet bowl when the lid is up and you want to know if that is dangerous. The answer is it depends.

If the bowl is full of water only – there is no major danger even though it is not ideal. The toilet bowl is not that clean and it would be preferable that he drinks from a clean bowl.

The REAL danger comes when toilet bowl or bathroom cleaners are used in the toilet and the dog licks or drinks it with the water which CAN BE DANGEROUS.

Bathroom cleaners, bleach, Lysol and other products can all cause what we call “Chemical Burns” to the mouth, tongue and esophagus. Some of these products are caustic and actually severe burns. Some dogs will paw at their mouths, start drooling, quit eating or act painful. Many burns will not show up immediately. Look at the label on the bottle for additional information and specific alerts based on the chemicals in that product.

If you see your dog drink toilet water that has one of the corrosive agents – the best thing to do is to try to rinse his mouth with eater. This can be done with a turkey baster filled with water. Do not induce vomiting as if it burned going down, it can burn coming back up causing double injury. Then call your veterinarian for additional advice and recommendations. They may recommend that you feed your dog some bread soaked in milk.

An article that might be helpful to you is Chemical Burns in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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