As with most things, you get what you pay for. An investment in a durable, high-quality bowl will save you money and offer peace of mind over time. There are many options when it comes to materials, and each
has its benefits and drawbacks. Plastic is the least expensive, most lightweight, and most accessible. However, it is also easy for pets to chew, and some animals develop allergies or skin conditions on their faces, neck, or chin from continued use. Certain plastic bowls may contain BPA, a chemical that can leech into water, so be sure to look for “BPA free” on the label.
Also think about the way your pets eat, and where and when you will be feeding them. If you have a wild, sloppy eater, stainless steel will not break, but can be loud on your floors (a rubber mat can help keep mealtimes quieter and contain spills and crumbs). Ceramic or stoneware bowls are great options and can be very stylish, but if you don’t like to hand wash make sure they are labeled dishwasher safe. Ceramic can also develop tiny cracks over time that can harbor bacteria, so it’s important to inspect the bowls often.
You may have heard that raised feeders can help prevent a life-threatening condition referred to as bloat (medically termed gastric dilatation volvulus or GDV for short) in large breed dogs. While there is much controversy around the definitive cause of bloat, a Purdue university study published in 2000 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association revealed that, contrary to popular belief, raised feeders could actually be one of the culprits. The data showed that 20 percent of the large-breed dogs and 52 percent of the giant-breed dogs who bloated during the study were fed from raised bowls.
It may appear that your dog is more comfortable eating her meals higher up, but in the wild animals do not have raised feeders and they are used to eating low to the ground. In some cases, a raised feeder can help alleviate issues like arthritis or other bone or joint conditions. Also, many pet experts still believe raised feeders help prevent dogs from taking in excess air while eating, so be sure to talk with your veterinarian about what is best for your dog based on her height, weight, and body type.
Many of us are guilty of “topping off” our pet’s water or food bowls, rather than taking the time to wash them out on a daily basis. While skipping a few days here and there is okay, going too long between cleanings increases the risk of bacteria, which can contribute to oral diseases. Cleaning is especially important if you are feeding wet food, since food particles left in the bowl can easily become crusty and attract bugs. The best way to sanitize is with a hot cycle in the dishwasher. you can also mix equal parts baking soda and warm water to make your own chemical- free disinfecting solution. Regular washing and scrubbing with dish soap will do the trick—just be sure to rinse out the suds very well.
Given that our animal companions are more mobile than ever, there are some great options to make feeding on the go as convenient as possible. From rubber bowls that flatten like pancakes to ones that double as food storage to those that are completely spill-proof, there are plenty of useful options. Choose something that works with your mode of travel, doesn’t take up too much space, and is easy for your pet to use. Be sure that any travel storage bowls you use have a tight closure, to prevent unwanted messes on the road.
While staying hydrated is important for any animal, it is especially important for our feline friends. Some cats may need a bit of encouragement to drink enough water throughout the day. Fountains and water bowls that recycle streaming water are great for attracting curious kitties. Cats also prefer to have their food and water in different places, so if you notice a hunger strike, try moving the bowls apart from each other.
The next time you are browsing at your local pet store, remember that while stylish bowls that match your home decor are fun, your main objective is to keep your pet happy and healthy. A sturdy, durable bowl (filled with nutritious pet food!) can go a long way toward keeping your pet at his or her best.