Most of us would agree that good nutrition is important for every pet, but have you ever thought about your pet’s bowl? Likely not. After all, your ever-hungry lab is less than discriminating about where their food comes from. A paper plate? No problem! The trash can? You bet! Pets probably don’t consider much beyond the contents that they will readily eat.

Your choice in water and food bowls is actually important for a number of reasons, including health. To help you choose the best option for your pet, read on!

Types of Water and Food Bowls

When choosing a bowl, material matters. Typically, you can choose from ceramic, plastic, or stainless steel bowls. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Plastic is often the cheapest but can erode over time, leaving plastic bits that can be ingested. Plastic also encourages biofilm (that slick coating of saliva, food, and bacteria) and needs to be scrubbed often. The same is true for ceramics, which are also breakable and can sometimes contain paint or other materials that can be hazardous (avoid cheaply made ceramics).

Stainless steel bowls with rubber non slip surfaces are recommended because they’re easy to clean, durable, and don’t slip across the floor as your pet is eating. (Unfortunately, they can be noisy if your pet is an enthusiastic eater.)

Does Height Matter?

In most cases, dogs or cats do not need an elevated bowl – and elevated bowls do not (as some suggest) reduce the risk of bloat, a life-threatening emergency in dogs that can cause gastric torsion. However, elevated food and water bowls are often better for those with orthopedic issues that prevent them from comfortably bending or kneeling down. In this case, adjust your pet’s bowl to their comfort level by purchasing elevated bowls or place the bowls on a short stand or table.

Very large breeds may also be better supported with elevated bowls.

Discouraging Fast Eaters

Dogs who gobble down their food (and isn’t this most dogs?) are not only at risk of overeating, but also bloat. Instead of feeding your dog one large meal, try portioning out meals using some of these recommended food puzzles:

You can also try a bowl designed to discourage fast eaters, such as this anti-gulping dog bowl.

Encouraging Hydration

You might be surprised to know that dehydration in pets is not uncommon. In fact, it’s a problem for many cats who are on a dry diet, which doesn’t allow for the benefit of the higher moisture content found in canned foods.

A pet water fountain is one of the best ways to entice your cat (and sometimes dog), as most pets prefer drinking from moving water. Even if you have a standard water bowl, make sure to clean and replace the bowl with fresh water each day.

A Clean Bowl is a Healthy Bowl

Speaking of clean, pet bowls need to be washed and sanitized each week (check to see if your bowls are dishwasher safe). This reduces biofilm and keeps bowls from becoming feeding grounds for bacteria and other organisms that can harm your pet.

We hope this overview of food and water bowls helps you choose the best option for your fur friend. If we can answer any more questions or make suggestions, please contact us.