When it comes to feeding your dog, the bowl you choose is almost as important as what you put inside it. Depending on the materials utilized in manufacturing and the eating style of the dog, the right bowls can ensure safer meal times and a healthier pup.
First on the list in choosing the right bowl is material. Plastic bowls are soft and easily scratched during cleaning and repeat use. This allows harmful bacteria to build up over time. Even worse, some plastic products may contain chemicals like BPA and phthalates, known carcinogens in humans.
Ceramic bowls are a better option. They are much easier to keep clean than plastic bowls, but can become incredibly slippery in the washing process – and one little slip can lead to a smashed bowl! Also, issues have arisen with certain ceramic glazes containing lead. Be sure to choose bowls marked “Food Safe”, “Made With A Lead-Free Glaze” or something along those lines.
Silicone bowls are the latest trend in doggie dinnerware. Chemists have declared silicone to be one of the most stable compounds on the market. It is non-toxic, non-stick, highly heat-resistant and easy to clean. If you can get used to its odd, rubbery consistency, it makes for a safe, healthy collapsible bowl for traveling and outdoor adventures.
Stainless steel may not offer the variety of colors and patterns that other dog bowls do, but it is probably the best bet for safe, healthy dining. True stainless steel bowls are rust-resistant, non-porous (which discourages bacteria), and very easy to clean (just pop ’em in the dishwasher)!
However, beware of knockoff metal bowls that are not fully composed of stainless steel. To avoid cheap imitation bowls that may contain lead, look for labeling like “Made in the USA”, “Dishwasher Safe” and a notation about the thickness of the steel.
Now that you know what materials to select and avoid, let’s talk about a few different specialized bowl options that may help your pet’s digestion. Elevated feeding stations used to be considered must-haves for giant breed dogs prone to bloat, like the Great Dane.
In the past few years, studies have shown that raised feeders encourage dogs to eat in an unnatural body position causing more air to be swallowed – a leading cause of bloat. Dogs suffering from arthritis, neck and back problems do still benefit from raised feeders. Veterinarians recommend monitoring dogs as they eat to prevent gulping.
Some dogs seem to inhale their food like vacuum cleaners. This is called “bolting” and it can be very dangerous, leading to issues like vomiting, choking and bloat.
Several manufacturers have created bowls with “nubs”, “spokes” or “domes” inside that force dogs to work for their kibble. Veterinarians warn that if using this type of bowl makes your pooch even more frantic, their risk of swallowing air may increase. In these cases, consider scattering their kibble across the grass or floor so they can “scavenge” for it, or try using a foraging toy.
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