Shelter Health

Toilet Bowl Water: The Dangers Aren’t Crystal Clear

It’s a mystery to us why pets often find toilet bowl water so delicious, but the “yuck!” factor aside, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center points out that there may be cause for concern. Here are the problem areas:

Water treated with cleaning discs

These discs are intended for home use and can be placed in the basin of the toilet, stick to the inner rim or clip onto the side.

As these products sit and are exposed to water, each flush dilutes them and disperses the chemicals in the water. When the water alone is ingested, mild vomiting and diarrhea can be seen. Mild GI signs are generally expected within two to four hours.

Some pets may have a mild—but immediate—taste reaction, which can easily be remedied with something tasty to eat or drink.

Physical sprays or discs

The discs themselves and sprays can be a bit more serious. These products may have chemicals that are caustic and could irritate the orophanyx when licked or swallowed.

Physical irritation can be seen; raised, erythematous mucosa or sores in the mouth. This type of irritation can take up to 18 hours to develop.

Less obvious signs could include chewing gingerly, difficulty swallowing, drooling or general discomfort in the mouth.  When less than two hours has passed since the exposure, milk or water can be given at home by the pet owner to dilute.

In more severe cases, GI protectants like sucralfate may be needed, as well as nutritional and pain support.

The good news? In most cases, systemic toxicity is not expected with either exposure, with the exception of industrial urinal cakes.

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