Food and water bowls are an essential part of your dog's and cat's supplies. You'll want to choose the best possible type that fits their needs.
Here are three popular options to consider, including pros and cons.
Pros: They're inexpensive, durable, and can be long-lasting if it's of good quality.
Cons: If you notice your dog or cat gnawing or chewing on the bowls, plastic isn’t your best choice. Ingesting bits of plastic can harm your dog and cat internally. Plastic can also stain and will often develop a bio-film if not scrubbed and cleaned daily. Lower quality, plastic bowls can slide and bounce on your floor and should be avoided for long term use.
Pros: They’re heavy and very stable, which is a good thing if your dog tends to push its bowl around the floor while eating. Ceramic bowls come in a wide range of colors and styles.
Cons: Ceramic bowls are also porous and will need to be scrubbed and cleaned daily. Low quality ceramic bowls have also been tied to lead poisoning - so always choose a high quality, lead-free bowl.
Stainless Steel Bowls
Pros: Stainless steel bowls don't break and are very easy to rinse out. The #1 choice of vets because they are so easy to sanitize. Stainless steel bowls are also the most durable. Look for bowls with a rubber coating on the bottom to help prevent sliding.
Cons: Stainless steel bowls can be loud especially if your dog is a messy eater.
Bowls for Fast Eaters and Those At Risk of Bloat
In some situations, you need a special bowl for your dog. Dogs that are at risk of bloat or gastrointestinal volvulus are typically large deep-chested breeds (like a German Shepherd), but dogs can bloat even if they don’t have the typical conformation. Eating too quickly is one of the risk factors for this devastating condition. Dogs that eat very quickly often don't feel satisfied and immediately look for more food, so they could also benefit from a bowl that will slow down their eating. You can buy special bowls with ridges in them to slow eating, or simply place an upturned bowl on a flat plate, so that your dog eats the food around the outside of the bowl. You can even drop a tennis ball in the middle to slow them down.
Raised or Normal Feeding Height Bowls
There is much misinformation out there about how to feed your dog. Unless your dog suffers from Canine Megaesophagus, feeding on the floor is fine. Having an elevated feeding bowl does not reduce the risk of bloat in dogs.
Food Balls and Puzzles
Another option to slow down fast eaters and to keep dogs occupied during periods of absence is using a food ball like the Omega Tricky Treat ball. Your dog needs to work at the ball and roll it around to get the food out. There are also a great number of puzzles you can use to deliver your pet treats and there is no reason you can’t use regular dry food for these, rather than high calorie treats. KONG brand treat balls are also great to fill with food, whether that be soft or hard foods.
Whatever bowl you decide for your dog, make sure you clean the bowls daily and do not leave meat or soft foods out for more than an hour (especially in warmer climates) Wash and scrub the bowls with normal dish-washing detergent and rinse well. Many are safe for the dishwasher too, and having more than one water and food bowl means you can rotate them as one set is being washed. Having a constant source of fresh drinking water is also important for all your pets.