We know how important it is to clean our own dishes, but do you know that it is just as important to do the same for your pets? Both your dog or cats’ water and food bowls need regular cleaning to maintain proper hygiene. 

The reasons pet bowls get so dirty are simple: you are constantly putting food and water in it that may already be contaminated with bacteria from your environment, AND every time your pet drinks or eats, some of its oral bacteria is transferred to the bowl. By not washing your bowl daily, or every other day, you are leaving that bacteria to grow and spread even further. This not only endangers your pet to skin or gut infections but also is dangerous to you! Dogs are resistant to many types of bacteria that we are not resistant to. Water bowls can be especially filthy, because many people just top the bowl off throughout the day, instead of dumping it, rinsing, and refilling. This can cause a nasty thing, called a biofilm, to form. A biofilm is essentially a mat of bacteria all growing and spreading together and becomes extremely hard to remove due to their ability to “stick” to surfaces. At any given time, bacteria like “Staphylococcus aureus, Pasteurella multocida and different species of Corynebacterium, Streptococcus, Enterobacteria, Neisseria, Moraxella, Bacillus and Salmonella and Pseudomonas” could be found in your pet’s bowls. Ensure you are either handwashing or dish-washing your bowls with hot, soapy water and remove any residual food on it. If you do this every few days, or more often if you can, you will help keep you and your pets healthier and happier.

Let’s use this opportunity to discuss pet dishes in general! Basic bowls come in a variety of materials; plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel are the most common.

Plastic bowls are generally the most popular. With their bright colors and cute patterns, coupled with their low price, it’s easy to see why people gravitate toward them. Ultimately, plastic bowls are the LEAST popular with pet professionals! Not only are they easy to knock around and spill because they are lightweight, but the material is dangerous to ingest if you have a mouthy puppy. Plastic is definitely not durable enough to stand up to a heavy chewer and could cause a blockage if eaten. Also, if you have a dog that is prone to face irritation or acne (like mine!), then plastic is the worst way to go. What happens is, the food leaves grooves in the plastic that you can’t even see, and bacteria migrates and breeds in there. These bacteria are transferred to your dog’s face and can cause infections and acne.
However, not all plastic bowls are created equal. There are companies out there creating BPA-free, heavy-duty plastic bowls designed with your pets’ safety in mind, as long as you ensure you are frequently deep cleaning them to remove any lasting bacteria. 

The next most common option is ceramic. While ceramic bowls are much more stable than plastic, they can be just as problematic. Ceramic bowls should have a nice thick coat of lead-free glaze covering every inch of their surface area that protects it from absorbing and spreading bacteria. However, ceramic is very porous, and once the bowl has been chipped or the glaze has cracked, bacteria can easily invade the ceramic under and inside the glazed bowl, and should be thrown out.
Despite their ease of cleaning, (Ceramic bowls do great on the top shelf of the dishwasher), and their increased durability (they’re much less likely to be chewed up, or drug around the house), ceramic bowls still don’t make it on pet professionals favorite’s list!

Last on our list? Stainless Steel, our favorite! Not only is it lightweight and durable, but it is easy to clean, doesn’t hold bacteria, and lasts a very long time. Most are also dishwasher safe, which makes keeping them clean easier for you! Puppies can knock them around and they won’t break, and most dogs don’t want to chew on steel. It does not get micro-abrasions so no worry over bacteria being spread to your pet from that. Stainless bowls are available in all kinds of sizes and new designs are being released regularly! Our newest line of Stainless bowls has a bright and colorful ceramic-looking interior and no-slip rubber bases. 

Specialty bowls help solve a myriad of problems including gas, vomiting, and dehydration; let’s talk about raised feeders, slow feeders, and pet water fountains! 

Slow feeders are best for dogs that gobble food so fast they make themselves sick, so they can be especially helpful for greedy puppies! It also works to keep your dog entertained and give him something to do, aka work for his meal! These bowls are particularly nice when you have multiple dogs in the house who eat at different speeds. Your fast-eating can now be on pace with your slow-eating dog, and no one misses out on a full meal!
Raised feeders are good for large breeds, and older dogs who have a hard time bending over. Raising the bowl allows them to eat more without gulping as much air, decreasing risks of gas and bloat. We have a brand called Neater Slow Feeder that is very unique and conveniently multi-purposed. It is a 2-piece raised slow feeder with that you can remove the slow feeder insert from to have just a regular raised food or water bowl. Very handy! 

Lastly, water fountains are a really cool idea for your pet. Most people see them and kind of chuckle, thinking “my dog isn’t that spoiled he needs his own running water”. But there are actually some scientific reasons they are good for your pet. Not only is running water considered evolutionarily safer in animal’s eyes (hence why cats always prefer to drink running water), but most fountains have filters inside that help keep the water clean. It helps to encourage your pet to drink water throughout the day because it stays cool and fresh. But you still should clean your pets’ fountain regularly.