By Nancy Cope
Plastic dog bowls are easy to find and they are inexpensive which makes them popular. If you drop a plastic dog bowl it won’t break and you can wash them in the dishwasher.
But these bowls are often not the best bowls for your dog. They scratch easily and can harbor bacteria. In addition, many dogs develop allergies to the soft plastic that is used to make these bowls which leads to irritated skin around the nose and muzzle.
In some cases dogs who eat out of plastic bowls even develop “winter nose” or a pale, flesh-colored nose where the pigment fades. If you are trying to find the best dog bowl for your dog, you should probably skip the plastic dog bowls.
Ceramic bowls can make great dog food bowls. They are heavy so they won’t tip over when a hungry dog attacks his food. They are often beautiful and decorated with creative designs. They are glazed so they are easy to wash and keep clean. Many of them are also dishwasher-safe. There are no problems with allergies when you use ceramic bowls.
However, ceramic bowls are breakable and they can crack. If the bowl develops tiny cracks, it can harbor bacteria. If you use ceramic bowls, be sure to check them regularly to make sure there are no tiny cracks.
The most practical dog food bowls are stainless steel bowls. They are durable and inexpensive. They are dishwasher safe. They do not crack. They don’t come in pretty colors or designs but they will last a long time and they are healthy to use. Some bowls have a non-skid rubber base so they won’t move around when your dog eats from them.
They also come in slightly different shapes so if you have a dog with long ears you can get a cone-shaped bowl to keep his ears out of the food, for example.
Feeders and other options
Feeders or automated dog bowls work by attaching a reservoir to a dog’s bowl. The bowl can be plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic. The reservoir or container can hold dog food or water. Feeders or automatic waterers will continue to fill your dog’s bowl as long as the container has food or water in it.
Automatic dog bowls are a good idea with regards to water bowls but they are not usually recommended for dog food. Dogs tend to eat as long as there is food, whether they are hungry or not. Dogs that eat food from an automatic feeder often become overweight or obese because they continue to eat all day.
It’s much better to measure your dog’s portions when you feed him and control how much he eats at each separate meal. There are some automated feeders that allow you to pre-set feeding times for your dog and measure how much food is poured out but there is always the risk that your dog can break into the container and gorge himself.
Elevated food bowls are often a good idea if you have a larger breed, especially a breed that is prone to gastrointestinal problems. Some studies have suggested that feeding dogs prone to bloat from elevated feed bowls can help reduce the chances that the dog will experience this health problem. Elevated food bowls are two normal bowls (plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel) which sit in a small stand usually made of wood, plastic, or metal.
The dog stands while eating and simply lowers his head to the bowls. Some dogs prefer to eat while standing anyway. Elevated food bowls and stands can be expensive but owners often say they are worth the cost if they can help prevent health problems.
Every dog is different so choosing the best dog bowl or feeding option for your dog often depends on your own dog’s special needs. Choose a bowl that won’t cause allergies and which you consider safe and easy to clean. Ceramic bowls are pretty and they can be a good option as long as you check them for cracks regularly. Stainless steel bowls are durable and won’t cause allergies. They are also easy to clean. Use your best judgment about feeding stands and other options.
Nancy Cope is the owner of four rescue dogs and Pampered Dog Gifts.