How to choose the best dog bowl for your canine companion
Are dog bowls no longer in vogue?
There is a huge rise in the popularity of ditching the bowl and instead choosing alternative slow feeders and enrichment toys to feed our dogs. While it’s true our dogs benefit from regular mental stimulation, should we be ditching the bowl completely?
You may think that a whole blog dedicated to the best dog bowls is a little extreme, but with so many choices, there is more to think about than you might first realise!
Hygiene and cross-contamination are worthwhile considerations when choosing the best way to feed your canine companion.
Does your dog need a bowl?
Ditching the bowl is a coin termed in recent years for quite simply giving up the traditional dog bowl in exchange for encouraging our dogs to work for their food.
Our dogs need mental stimulation to help relieve boredom, avoid troublesome behaviours, and give our favourite four-legged friends a good quality of life. Using slow feeders, scatter feeding, or using all of your dog’s meals for training can be a great way to easily incorporate some brain games into your dog’s day and without your dog piling on the pounds.
It’s often said that if we want our dogs to do something, then we need to reward them… or pay them! And most dog’s like to be paid in food! But is it right for them to have to work for every meal?
Not all dogs enjoy slow feeders, some find it difficult to retrieve the food, and if you have a particularly fussy eater, then a slow feeder may make an already worrying situation worse.
It’s a matter of opinion and individual preference, but balance probably wins out. It’s nice for your dog to be able to simply enjoy at least some of their meals without the hard graft!
Think of yourself tucking into a delicious takeaway meal or food freshly prepared by a top chef. Sure, perhaps it’d be a bit extravagant to enjoy these luxuries every day, but it certainly is a welcome treat to simply tuck in and enjoy once in a while!
Whether you choose to ditch the bowl or not, your dog will definitely need a water bowl for rehydration. So how do you choose the best dog bowl?
How to choose the best dog bowl?
A study undertaken in 2018 found that our dog’s water bowls are the third most contaminated item in our homes. Ref study: Wright, C., & Carroll, A. (2018). Microbiological Assessment of Canine Drinking Water and the Impact of Bowl Construction Material
And yet, it’s probably something we give little thought to most of the time.
The study looked at which dog water bowl was the most hygienic comparing plastic, stainless steel, and ceramic dog bowls as the most popular bowl choices among pet parents.
Ceramic dog bowls came out on top as the most bacteria-resistant when compared with plastic and stainless steel dog bowls.
They are easy to clean, look stylish, and practical. But ceramic dog bowls are not all created equal!
Be sure to check that any ceramic dog bowl you buy has been coated with a lead-free glaze. Ensure the bowl is certified for food use to ensure it’s a safe food or water bowl for your dog.
Our ceramic dog bowls are handmade by studio potters who use a dog-safe glaze so we can deliver you safety and style in one fell swoop!
Shop our studio pottery Merlin dog bowls here
Plastic dog bowls are cheap but easily chewed and prone to scratches which are the perfect area for bacteria to build up. There is also evidence to suggest that the chemicals within plastic are harmful to both dogs and humans.
Plastic dog bowls can also cause plastic dish nasal dermatitis, which is essentially a loss of pigment on the areas of your dog that come into contact with the bowl, caused by the chemical pbenzylhydroquinone.
Stainless Steel dog bowls are cheap and practical. They came in second to plastic in terms of how much bacteria they harvest if not cleaned thoroughly.
Anecdotally, some dogs seem to have a bit of an aversion to stainless steel dog bowls. This could be due to the sound of the collar clinking against the metal or the reflection. Who knows! Dogs are curious beings sometimes!
Which is the best dog bowl for my dog?
Dogs are all individual, and the best bowl for your dog will depend on a few factors. If your dog is a fussy eater then a simple ceramic dog bowl may be the best choice as it limits frustration and is suitable for a wide array of tempting foods!
If your dog is a fast eater who gobbles down their meals then a slow feeder may help to slow him down and prevent bloat.
For messy eaters, it’s worth investing in a slightly deeper or larger dog bowl and a silicone placemat that’s easy to wipe clean.
Large dogs and tall dogs benefit from a raised dog bowl, which can be achieved by either buying an elevated bowl or raising it yourself with a platform. If you choose an elevated dog bowl, then be sure to consider the right height for your dog. You can determine this by experimenting using books and a regular dog bowl to see which height allows your dog to access their food most comfortably.
The best puppy bowl is one that is not easily chewed. We recommend steering clear of plastic dog bowls while your puppy saunters through bite mode! Puppies can often go through fussy phases of eating, so a simple ceramic bowl can be an excellent choice to make mealtimes less intimidating.
How often should I wash my dog’s bowl?
To minimise bacteria present in your dog’s bowl, the best routine is to thoroughly clean the bowl between each feeding and at least once a day for your dog’s water bowl.
Use warm soapy water and wash thoroughly, or if possible, pop your dog’s bowl in the dishwasher for complete peace of mind. And have a designated dishcloth for your dog’s bowls to avoid cross-contamination.
If your dog is on a raw diet, then it is particularly important to keep your dog’s bowl super clean to prevent nasty bacterias from playing havoc with your dog’s guts and cross-contamination within your household.
This applies to your dog’s enrichment toys, slow feeders, and puzzle toys. If they’re not dishwasher safe, they need a thorough wash in warm soapy water between uses to keep bacteria at bay.
It’s worth having a couple of beautiful dog bowls in rotation so that you always have a fresh and clean dog bowl to hand when your hound howls dinner time.
To wrap up, the best dog bowl is a clean one! We’re big fans of classically beautiful dog accessories here at Merlin Dogs, so for us, the handmade ceramic dog bowl wins out every time.
Are you a bit of a bowl collector? How many dog bowls does your dog have, and do they have a preference?