How to choose a dog bowl fit for a well-loved pooch?

How to choose a dog bowl fit for a well-loved pooch?


Blog by Tamra Booth, Keeeps

When choosing a dog bowl for a pooch, you need to consider a lot more than just the look. Plastic is a definite no, and whilst stainless steel is the vet’s functional favourite, ceramic dog bowls are an excellent option to fulfil both form and function requisites.

It is ‘Walk your Dog Week’ and as we are unable to do anything much but walking the dog during lockdown, we do not need much encouragement! Spending a bit more time with the hound, however, has led me down the dog bowl design path of discovery.

We have always gone for ceramic dog bowls for our loyal cockapoo, Milo. I guess this is because they look nice. Little did how many other important considerations there were. Having now done my research, I thought I ought to share some eye-opening advice for when choosing your dog bowl.

TOP 6 DOG BOWL CONSIDERATIONS

Here are my Top 6 Dog Bowl Considerations in order of importance to your dog. Your priorities may be different but let us start off on the right foot/paw!

  1. Cleanliness
  2. Health and safety
  3. Durability and life span
  4. Size/shape
  5. Style/Décor
  6. Mess

There are a few things I want to bring to your attention within these considerations:

  1. Cleanliness
  • Stopping bacteria harbouring is very important*. Bacteria can harm your pet. You need to clean your dog bowl daily with hot soapy water (preferably in the dishwasher) and disinfect it with a bleach solution at least weekly.
  1. Health and safety
  • Chewability - swallowing even tiny plastic pieces can cause blockages in dogs over time.
  • Scratches and chips – any breaks in the surface caused by tipping or chewing can lead to unwanted bacteria hanging around.
  • Toxins – Plastics and paint from non-food grade ceramics can leach toxins and cause health problems over time.
  • Digestion - Dogs can rush their food and this can lead to bloating and sometimes vomiting. There are some slow feed dog bowls on the market if this is an issue with your dog. I have listed a couple of options for slow feed bowls later in the article.
  1. Durability and life span
  2. Size
  • Sounds obvious but the bigger your dog, the more they eat and the larger and deeper the bowl required. Also take into account larger snouts!
  1. Style and Décor
  • You love your dog, he is part of your family, you want him to have a dog bowl he deserves, maybe with a bit of character, something he can call his own.
  • Dog bowls are homeware and whilst highly functional, they can be stand-out and complement your decor.
  1. Mess
  • If the dog bowl is not weighty enough and moves or is the wrong size, then you are looking at one messy kitchen! A deep sided dog bowl or the slanted dog bowl option as listed below can help overcome this.

There are so many options out there in terms of what dog bowl to buy. Here are the main dog bowl choices and some pros and cons to think about to ensure you do the best you can for your beloved dog. I have excluded smart and automatic dog bowls as, personally, I think these are gimmicks that are easy to break and the novelty will wear off. Happy to stand corrected, as they may improve over time. So anyway, here are my Top 7 Dog Bowl Types.

TOP 7 DOG BOWL TYPES

  1. Plastic
  • I have to mention plastic, but my advice is ‘stay well clear’. They may come in the colours of the rainbow, they may be cheap and hard to break, but they are prone to harbouring smells, scratches (letting in bacteria) and chewing (plastic pieces in their mouths), none of which are going to do your dog any good.
  • Some dogs have an allergic reaction to plastic and can get sores – it even has a name, ‘plastic dish nasal dermatitis’*.
  • If you do opt for plastic, change it regularly, but then again that is not good for the environment. There literally is no good reason to go for plastic. Moving on..
  1. Silcone
  • Unlike plastic, you can buy non-toxic silicone bowls, and they also come in collapsible designs for travelling.
  • Being light, they will move around as your dog eats or drinks, which can mean one thing – mess! The biggest issue though is that a dog can easily destroy a silicone bowl so they cannot be left alone with them.
  1. Melamine
  • Durable, scratch resistant melamine bases with stainless steel bowl inserts. Quite a good option on most counts. Slightly limited in design though, they look rather plain. However, if you like the minimal look, then go for it!
  1. Stainless steel
  • Vets’ favourite*. Although some dogs do not like them due to the noise they make.
  • Whilst not very stylish, stainless steel dog bowls are safe and easy to clean.
  • One thing to consider is that stainless steel takes on heat or cold, making water warmer in the summer and freezing in the winter, so you cannot really use them outside.
  • Yeti’s Boomer dog bowl is the top of the range option. It is double walled, non-insulated stainless steel, durable, non-skid, and also resistant to rust. Being a good size, they are popular with large breed dog owners.
  1. Ceramic
  • Best looking dog bowl, easy to clean with its protective glaze (make sure it is lead free glaze), often heavy to prevent skidding. The only real downside is that you could drop it and break it or bang it and chip it. I am careful when I wash Milo’s ceramic dog bowls so as not to knock them and I regularly check for any damage, such as small cracks and, touch wood, no problems in the 7 years we have been using them.
  • You can opt for either mass produced stoneware or handmade pottery.
  • Emma Bridgwater and Fenella Smith are both good choices for stylish hand-finished mass-produced ceramic dog bowls with cute designs.
  • Handmade pottery is chic and practical, usually nice and heavy, and thick enough edges to help prevent chips. You can also buy personalised ceramic dog bowls – have a look on Keeeps, Etsy or Not On The High Street.
  1. Elevated dog bowls
  • I must admit I had not heard of elevated dog bowls, but apparently these raised bowls are great for dogs who have arthritis, stiff joints, neck pain or swallowing problems*. The most popular seem to be the bowls on stands which you need to place by a wall to prevent knocking over.
  1. Slow feed dog bowls
  • The slanted dog bowl design that comes in different material types, but basically has a tilted design with concentrates the food at the bottom of the bowl to reduce the risk of bloating and to aid digestion.
  • Slow feed dog bowl with individual or road-like ridges, or you can buy a slow feeding insert to slot into a regular dog bowl
  • Ceramic dog bowl with a slow feeding centre

I hope you can now make a well-informed choice in selecting a dog bowl for your pooch, or even if it is a gift for a loved one’s dog. I am certainly glad that, by chance, Milo’s dog bowls are ceramic, as they tick the boxes for me on style and safety. And I confess, I may not have cleaned my dog bowls as much as is recommended, so I will make sure that I disinfect them weekly now in addition to daily cleaning, and if I chip the bowl, I will replace it straight away. I am so glad I read up on this! Knowledge is power or, as Scrappy Doo would say, “Puppy poooooweeeer!”.


Sources
  1. The Surprising (And Dangerous) Truth About Your Pet’s Bowls (iheartdogs.com) - bacteria
  2. Plastic Dish Nasal Dermatitis in dogs (dogbreedstandards.com)
  3. Food and Water Bowls for Your Dog. Tips & Ideas | VetBabble
  4. Slow feeding & raised dog bowls (fetch.co.uk)

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