What is the best material for pet food bowls?

Stainless steel is a good choice for pet bowls

Pet food bowls are available in a wide assortment of sizes and materials. Many people choose plastic pet food bowls because they are readily available, inexpensive and come in lots of colors and sizes. However, a plastic bowl might not be the best choice for your pet’s food bowls.

Downsides of plastic: Plastic food bowls can get small scratches over time which trap and hold bacteria that cannot be removed even with cleaning. Some cats eating from plastic food bowls may develop feline acne from exposure to bacteria in the bowl, and dogs and cats may develop an allergic reaction to the plastic. While this is a controversial issue, some experts report that some plastics may emit BPA or other dangerous chemicals which can leach into your pet’s food. Finally, a dog that is a determined chewer may end up chewing the plastic pet food bowl, possibly ingesting pieces of the plastic bowl.

Better materials for pet food bowls: The safest pet food bowls are made of stainless steel. Stainless steel bowls are unbreakable, durable, dishwasher-safe and easy to keep clean. If you choose stainless steel, look for a bowl with non-skid rubber on the bottom, such as Durapet pet food dishes and bowls.

Other choices include glass, ceramic or stoneware pet food bowls. Like stainless steel, these are sturdy, non-porous and easy to keep clean. Ceramic and stoneware pet food bowls come in a number of different colors and designs. If you choose stoneware, make sure the bowls are dishwasher safe and have a lead-free, food-grade glaze. To ensure your pet’s safety, glass, ceramic or stoneware pet food bowls should be discarded if they become chipped or cracked. Also, be cautious of using glass bowls outside as, under the right conditions, glass can concentrate the sun’s rays enough to start a fire on a wooden deck.

When choosing pet food dishes, consider an elevated feeder, which is simply an elevated stand used to raise the food bowls above floor level. Elevated feeders have a number of benefits, the most important of which is improved comfort for your pet. It can be uncomfortable for some pets to lower the head down to eat or drink, especially for larger dogs, senior pets and those with painful joints. A raised feeder allows your pet to eat using a more natural body posture, thereby reducing stress on your pet’s back and neck. Since your pet’s head isn’t pointed downward to eat from the floor, a raised feeder also makes swallowing food and water easier on your pet.

Additionally, an elevated feeder can keep the feeding area neater as less food and water falls on the floor when your pet eats, and the bowls are held in place preventing playful pets from pushing the bowls around the floor.

What type of bowl does your pet use?

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  1. Could the plastic bowl be the reason my dog doesnt like eating his dog food ?

  2. We use a raised feeder for our large dogs with stainless steel bowls.

  3. I was at a pet store today trying to find a different food to help with my border collies skin issues…the guy at the store insisted that my stainless steel bowl I use for her food is a big no no and that I needed to change to a glass bowl to stop bacteria build up. First, I’ve found little to support this claim online and second, it seems stainless steel is the preferred material? Any thoughts???

  4. What about ceramic bowls?, something like our dishes but shaped like a bowl, is that healthy and safe enough for a dog?

  5. Ceramic bowls are safe as long as they have a lead-free, food-grade glaze. Be sure to discard should the bowl become chipped or cracked.
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  6. Try Fresh Dish. The Disposable pet food dish. http://www.yourfreshdish.com Save time every day in feeding your pet!
    Fresh Dish bowls are pet-healthy, eco-friendly, and are make from FDA-food grade plastic that is recyclable and re-usable. Fresh Dish offers the convenience of portability, disposability, and reusability. Recycling Fresh Dish eliminates germs and biofilm build up. Pets smell germ-free water, drink more, improving hydration and washing away more dental plaque. Reduces plaque germs that cause dental disease, which could add up to four years to your pet’s life. Less oral plaque reduces bacteria entering the bloodstream which cause heart, liver, and kidney disease. Better Hydration improves energy, physical strength, immune system protection, and overall mood. More sanitary and convenient than dishwashers, which Do NOT get hot enough to kill all germs/plaque. Reduces electricity, water, and waste versus washing.

  7. My old cats of 16 and 19 have been sick almost daily from many different kinds of dry and wet cat food, fed to them in plastic bowls for food and water. They have driven us crazy washing blankets, carpets and floors. This has been going on for two years. Ten days ago, I threw away all the plastic bowls. The water is given now in stainless steel the dry cat food in stainless steel and the wet cat food in ceramic or glass bowls. No more vomiting cats. I was absolutely shocked by the turnaround in health. I have now stated to throw away all my plastic, Tupperware containers. I will try never to buy anything in plastic again in my life. No water bottles, no fast foods or frozen dinners. Ever again. No cat food in plastic containers either.

  8. The ceramic bowels should also be glazed so they cannot absorb food and bacteria.

  9. Thanks for sharing Chris.

  10. Something to consider is smell. It is important to understand that both dogs and cats have specialized and highly evolved olfactory senses. The human nose has about 5 million olfactory receptors while dogs and cats have hundreds of millions.
    If you have a picky eater you may want to switch to a dish that is scent neutral. Ceramic and glass containers neither impart or hold smells. Plastic holds scent and stainless steel imparts taste and scent. Also, wash your pets dish after every meal.

  11. Telling people to used raised bowls, especially for large dogs, makes this seem like an untrustworthy source of information. If you know anything about BLOAT, then you would know that researchers believe raised bowls may be one of the things that can cause it. There’s still research to be done on the matter, but better safe than sorry, especially considering that large dogs are already more prone to bloat than smaller dogs. You should only use raised bowls at your vet’s recommendation.

  12. Marci, thank you so much for your comments on stainless steel bowls for dogs. I never knew that it can hold scents. I try to wash my dogs bowl after every feeding. I’m dog sitting for my friend, who has a picky eater. She uses plastic & aluminum bowls. Maybe that’s why. I use ceramic food bowl for my dog. Got it on sale at PetSmart because of a chip. I think I need to toss it.

  13. Excellent post, these are all great ideas.

  14. Right now her bowls are stoneware. The vet recommended raising her bowls (12 year old yellow lab with bad hips) and the set I bought has stainless steel bowls. The sets with stoneware all seemed to be smaller. I like the look of stoneware and they’re very easy to clean. For those reasons I’m hesitant to set up her new bowls.

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  16. What about the lead in stainless steel bowls that they sell? Any comments?

  17. My plastic bowls have less scratches than stainless steel ones. Funny how people assume because its ‘metal’ it cant be scratched. Plastic can get ‘small scratches which harbor bacteria’ but stainless steel can’t? That is completely false information. The movement of kibble/pets teeth is enough to the stainless steel, its not caused by abrasive cleaning. I’m no expect but I cant imagine the small amount of metal consumed by your pet due to these scratches is any better for them than the chemicals in plastic.

  18. Dr Karen Becker and Rodney Habib just did a Facebook live on this very subject; google it! Plastic is the worst. Ceramic has some issues. Stainless made overseas (most of it is) can have major issues. Stainless made in USA and is NSF certified is the very best!

  19. Very useful and interesting website. thank you for sharing with us.

  20. Shouldn’t something be said about the lead in treated steel bowls that they sell? Any remarks?

  21. Could the plastic bowl be the explanation my canine doesnt like eating his canine food ?

  22. We use BEASTWARE Ceramic Crocks. Although they were made for birds, we feed our corgi’s, ourselves, and our birds with them. They’re lead free, food safe, and heavy enough that our dogs don’t carry them around and our birds don’t throw them.

    We used to use metal bowls but stopped after we discovered they contained lead just under the surface of the interior.

    Not all metal bowls are “stainless steel” Many from overseas are of poor quality, contain lead, and contain little to no actual “steel”. The ones we used became scratched and worn, so we tested them with one of those wipes (you can buy at Target or Home Depot) and they tested positive for lead. Never again. Yes, ceramic can chip or break but it doesn’t blister or peel when exposed to bleach and hot water.

  23. While I have always used stainless steel or ceramic bowls, I have recently noticed something that I never thought of before…..my dogs front teeth are getting very worn down. To the extent that it looks like she has an infected tooth and gums. Mind she is a Brittany so not a small breed with known teeth issues. I believe that her using her teeth against the hard surface of ceramics over the years has worn down her front teeth. She is not a chew or fetch dog so her teeth are not worn down from those things,. Her only worn teeth are her very front teeth and its all of them. I have decided today to move to silicon. Since this is a soft surface for my dog and one that I can still clean thoroughly this will be my direction moving forward. Who would have known but it makes complete sense that digging at ceramic or stainless steel over the years has sadly destroyed her front teeth. Food for thought to the rest of you.

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