There are hundreds of food and water bowls on the market. Stainless steel, plastic, silicone, ceramic, stoneware, bamboo, non-skid, slow-feeding, non-spill, and even automated ones. With so many options out there, how do you know which is best for your pet? Here are some general guidelines to help you make the best decision.
Stainless Steel is Best
In almost all cases, stainless steel is the best material for pet food and water bowls. It’s easy to clean and disinfect, and extremely durable. Stainless steel dog bowls are non-porous which discourages bacteria, plus they are rust-resistant and much easier to sanitize properly.
Glass and ceramic dishes are also easy to clean, but can chip, crack, or break more easily. And any chips or cracks can lead to cuts on your pet’s tongue, paws, or chin, or provide areas where bacteria can grow and fester.
Plastic bowls and dishes are best avoided for regular use because they are the most dangerous and riskiest bowls to feed your pet with. Plastic can get easily damaged by hungry teeth, playful nails, or even the dishwasher. These scratches or other imperfections can create perfect hiding spots for bacteria that could cause a bout of digestive upset or a case of chin acne if they're on the rim or inner sides of the bowls. For young and teething pups out there, a feeder bowl occasionally becomes another chew toy to be destroyed and eaten. All it takes is a few minutes without your supervision and these pieces of plastic can cause internal bleeding or intestinal blockage (and likely a huge vet bill). Plastic bowls can also contain harmful chemicals like BPA or Phthalates.
Silicone is one of the newest alternatives on the market today and it’s easy to see why. Nontoxic, nonstick, and rubber-like; high quality silicone products are highly heat-resistant, it does not retain stains or odors, and can be space-saving due to its collapsible feature. Unfortunately, it is not very functional as a permanent pet bowl. It is, however, an outstanding collapsible bowl for hiking, camping, and traveling.
Keep it Clean
If properly cared for, stainless steel pet bowls will not trap dangerous bacteria or leach harmful chemicals. Care is pretty straight-forward and easy. Clean it out after every use with soap and hot water or vinegar and hot water. Avoid cleaning with abrasive materials such as steel wool. Or, just toss it into the dishwasher to sanitize.
Slow Feeder Bowls
A slow feeder bowl creates separations or obstructions in the food. This modifies your pets eating behavior and forces him or her to slow down their eating. Slow feeding bowls are incredibly effective, and not just for pets that eat fast. Just like in humans, slowing down and better-chewing foods significantly improves digestion, resulting in less bloat, less gas, reduced regurgitation and choking. Look for a stainless steel slow feeder bowl to avoid harboring harmful bacteria.
A Word About Bowls for Cats
Dogs and cats have different needs. did you know that a cat can experience what's called "whisker fatigue?" That's why it's important that you select a bowl specifically designed to minimize the effects. Choosing a wide mouth bowl with more space for whiskers can help avoid this concern. Additionally, a wide shallow water bowl will be sure to keep them hydrated. Have an older cat, or one prone to hairballs? Consider upgrading to an angled, elevated bowl to make it easier on their joints, and on their esophagus.