Choosing Food and Water Bowls

While choosing a bowl for your pet's food and water may seem simple enough, there are a few things you should take into consideration. Shape, size, material and placement can all make a difference in the health and happiness of your pet.

First, you will want to choose separate bowls for water and food rather than partioned bowls. Pets almost always get food particles into the water side and then they won't want to drink the contaminated water. Also pets may spill water into the food side and get their kibble wet. Some dogs like wet kibble but any that it isn't eaten should be taken away as it will spoil.

Next you will need to decide what material you should choose. Bowls usually come in metal, ceramic and plastic. Metal bowls are a good choice for many reasons. They are the most durable and easiest to clean. They don't hold smells, can't be chewed easily and are unbreakable. Ceramic bowls are also a good choice. They also don't hold smells and clean easily. They are often heavy and their weight makes them harder to tip or get pushed around. There are many adorable patterns and colors but they can get broken.

Plastic bowls are cheap and colorful but aren't the best choice. They can be chewed by puppies and usually tip and slide easily. They can retain food odors and they can get tiny scratches or grooves on the surface which can trap bacteria and possibly cause feline acne. Some cats and dogs seem to be susceptible to a contact allergy from the plastic.

Cats should have shallow, wide bowls. Their whiskers are extremely sensitive, enough to detect objects in the dark just by air flow around them. They do not like their whiskers soiled or smashed against the sides of the bowl. Their bowls should be at least 5 inches across but only about 1 and 1/2 inches deep. Water bowls can be 2-3 inches deep.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing a bowl is it dishwasher and microwave safe if you plan to use it in either of those. Flat weighted bottoms are a nice idea. and rubber feet or rims help dishes from sliding. Simple designs are easier to clean and you should stay away from grooves or intricate designs for that reason. Be sure any ceramic dishes are safe as some glazes can contain lead.

Bowl holders or stands can be a good idea. Higher ones can be useful for large or arthritic dogs. Having the dishes raised off the floor a bit can keep the floor from being damaged by water getting trapped under the bowl. Long eared dogs may need special shaped dishes to help keep their ears out of the food and water.

Eating areas should be kept clean. Pick up uneaten food and clean up crumbs. Wash all bowls after every meal. Don't forget to scrub the water dishes as they start to get slimy after a few days. Cat dishes should not be placed anywhere near their litter boxes. Cats can be very fussy about that and start refusing to use the box if it's near their feeding area.

It's very important for cats to drink enough water. They can be very finicky about their water. Many cats like to drink out of small glass or ceramic bowls for some reason. Maybe for the same reason many people prefer glass over aluminum cans or plastic. Some cats also prefer moving water and the kitty drinking fountains can be a good idea. Just be sure to take them apart and clean them thoroughly every once in a while and change the filters. Some cats are sensitive to the taste or contaminants in tap water so using a filter or bottled water may help. Making sure your cat drinks plenty of water can help prevent urinary tract infections.

While self feeders and self waters are convenient and time savers, they aren't always the best idea. Food can get stale and water should be freshened daily. It is also very hard to clean the inside of the bottles. If you do use them, see if they are dishwasher safe and then clean them in the dishwasher often.

There are so many dishes and bowls for pets out on the market today. Most are under $10. Take your time and pick one that you like but also make sure it will fit your pet's needs.

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