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  • Yvonne

Pitch The Plastic Food Bowls

Updated January, 2021

Find out my updated recommendations for food bowls at the end of this article!

Do One Thing: November, 2019: This article is part of the 2019 "Do One Thing" series, which focuses on one small project we can do each month to support our dog's health.


I spend a lot of time talking about what goes into your dogs' bowls, but this month I want to spend a few minutes talking about the bowls themselves. The type of bowls you use for your dog's food and water matters, as well as how often you clean them.

Your assignment for November ...

Pitch the plastic food and water bowls, and wash food bowls after each meal and the water bowl at least once a day.

Plastic is not the best choice of bowls for your dog, regardless of whether you feed raw or kibble. Small scratches in the surface of the plastic traps bacteria (yes, there is bacteria in kibble), and can also release minute amounts of harmful toxins such as BPA, phthalates, dyes, and the chemical, p-benzylhydroquinone, which has been implicated in a condition called 'Plastic Dish Nasal Dermatitis'. It turns out that this particular chemical can inhibit melanin production and cause loss of pigment in the dog's nose. (This is different than a temporary loss of pigment in the nose, often referred to as 'snow nose', that affects some dogs during the winter months.)

Plastic bowls are not recommended for kibble since any oxidized fats in kibble can react with the chemicals in plastic and cause them to leach. This is one reason why you should keep your dog's kibble in the original bag.

Think about how many times your dog licks his bowl each day, every day, and the long-term impact that chemicals in plastic may have on his wellness.

You may be wondering ....

Can I Use Ceramic Dishes?

We all like things to look pretty for our dogs and it's hard to resist those adorable ceramic food bowls painted with cute and colourful pictures, but ceramic dishes might not be the best choice either. Unfortunately, products marketed for use by dogs, particularly items made overseas, have much fewer standards for safety than items intended for human use: lead in paint is one of the main concerns. The glazes used on food bowls can form microscopic cracks which allow lead and toxic chemicals from the paint and dyes to surface. These cracks can also trap bacteria.

My Suggestion for Food and Water Bowls ... 

Good old fashioned, basic, stainless steel is my choice of bowls for your dog. If it's in the budget, pay a little more and avoid purchasing stainless steel bowls from the dollar store. Again, products arriving from overseas which are intended for dogs do not have strict quality controls.

I also like ceramic dog dishes with a glass bowl insert if you completely trust that these are not a safety risk for your dog. These types of bowls are a nice combination of function and fun. Glass is an ideal surface for dog food, but if you have small children in your home or a dog who likes to move his food bowl around then glass is not appropriate.

Keep Them Clean!

Your dog's food bowls need to be washed thoroughly in warm, soapy water after every meal to prevent the spread of bacteria to family members. If your dog's food bowl has a plastic grip around the outside edge, that needs to be cleaned as well. Water bowls must be washed in warm, soapy water daily, or as needed. The slippery film on the inside of the water bowl is called a 'biofilm' and is a collection of bacteria; some of those types of bacteria might not be good for your dog, or you.

January, 2021Update:

Stainless steel is still one of my top choices for food and water bowls for dogs, however, after more research, I wanted to update you about what kind of stainless steels bowls you should consider.

Some of the stainless steels bowls sold in pet supply stores, online and in dollar type of stores are poor quality and may contain trace amounts of lead, cadmium and mercury. If this is a concern for you look for stainless steel bowls made in North America from 304 series (sometimes called 18/8) stainless steel, which has been tested and found free of lead, cadmium and mercury. (Basis Pet is one company that sells these type of bowls although I have not purchased products from them.)

Since my dogs are older and do not try to carry their food dishes in their mouths, and do not knock over their bowls, I switched to heavy duty glass Pyrex bowls for Jake and Coral's food. I remove the bowls as soon as they finish eating so that there is no chance of the glass bowl becoming a safety hazard.

If you decide to use Pyrex glass bowls you must be completely 100 % certain they are a safe choice for your dog. Supervise your dog while eating and then remove the bowl as soon as the dog is done eating.

As always, I encourage you to research and make the best decisions for your dog.

Just joining us? Click here to begin the series!

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