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.
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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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4. I trust my pets' noses over my own. Which only makes sense when you consider that precious few animal species poop where they eat. And knowing that a dog can positively identify the presence of a single drop of human blood in over a gallon of water, I'd tend to think they'd know better than to drink from a fecal-ridden source. Not that some dogs aren't above snacking in the litterbox or back yard, but that's another story.
5. It's a good safety measure. Ever left the house thinking you'd be back in an hour only to return in five? It happens. At times like these, the toilet's a great backup.
6. It's your fault anyway. How can we blame them when we leave the lid lifted so invitingly? (On this last point I pointedly direct my comments to the MEN reading this.)
Ultimately, I can't help but think we humans need to get over this irrational fear of toilet water. As in so many other examples where conventional wisdom deserves the occasional challenge, there's nothing to fear but fear itself… and perhaps the scourge of an empty bowl of water.
So now that you know WHY I go where few dare follow, do you still think me grossly irresponsible for allowing my household to engage in such indecorous "bathroom behavior"?