What to know about buying a pet bowl for your dog

Most pets will happily eat off any surface, anywhere: a plate, a bowl, the floor, a smoking barbecue. It’s easy for us humans to understand- they love to eat and eat they do! But the right food bowl makes a difference in the health and contentment of your furry friend. They might not care about this, but you should!

What Vets Say About Dog Bowls

Many of the world’s pets are overweight. According to a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 58 percent of cats and 53 percent of dogs carry extra pounds from tip to tail. Like people, too much fat affects the health of the four-legged. It worsens heart conditions, causes joint issues, puts them at risk for Type 2 diabetes and certain autoimmune diseases, and shortens lifespan. It occasionally reduces enjoyment of life too: a dog hauling extra pounds isn’t able to run and jump as freely as one fit and slim.

A variety of things contribute to this epidemic: lack of exercise, our tendency to slip our pets table scraps, and genetics each play a role. And food bowls make a bigger impact than you may realize.

Studies have found that people who eat from bigger plates consume larger portions without realizing. This translates to Rover and Roxy: the more food the bowl holds, the more owners put in it; they top it off almost subconsciously. Vets recommend that owners buy the correct size to help avoid this. Using a measuring cup to dole out food helps as well.

Of course, type of food is important – calorie information is available on bags and cans (if it’s not, contact the manufacturer). Overweight pets may benefit from calorie-reduced kibble and the addition of nutritionally dense ingredients, morsels made of sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. If all else fails, watering down the food fills your pet up faster (although a “full pet” is more of a legend than an actuality). While you might not like liquefied dinners, pets have less particular palates. Dogs, especially, are the most enthusiastic of eaters, happily consuming everything from wet food to dry food, from your food to the flakes of fish food imbedded in the carpet underneath the aquarium. In short, dogs are pigs.

It’s not always easy to tell if your pets are overweight – they won’t stand on a scale or ever ask you if their collar makes them look fat. Yet guidelines help determine if Winston needs Weight Watchers or Jenny needs Jenny Craig. Dogs that are at a healthy weight have an hourglass figure (when looking at them from above). Their stomach is narrower than their chest or hips. Their chest is closer to the ground then their belly. And their ribs are felt with a little pressure. They shouldn’t be overtly apparent, though: that’s a sign they’re underweight (and, per them, in desperate need of filet mignon).

Cats that are at a healthy weight have a visible waist (when looking at them from above). Their abdomen is indented. And their ribs are easily felt. You may be able to tell if you have a chubby cat simply by lifting them up: if they feel heavier each week, it’s possible that they could lose a pound or two.

It’s easier to control the weight of a dog because of a canine’s enthusiasm for exercise: a hike through a blizzard appeals to your hound. Cats are much lazier, only interested in laying around and putting their fur in your food when you’re not looking.

The Number of Bowls Needed

Setting out bowls for your pets isn’t akin to setting a dining room table: your poodle doesn’t need a gravy boat no matter how fancy they think they are in their sequined collar. But more than one bowl is usually needed.

Ideally, owners should have two or three food bowls (more bowls means less cleaning); a bowl for water; and a collapsible bowl for travel, treks, and walks around the neighbourhood.

While cats often feast from one community bowl, dogs require their own. This is extraordinarily true for dogs that are aggressive near food. If you own a dog that’s a rescue, it’s likely they’ll possess at least some aggression (certain dogs may possess a great deal of aggression). Many rescue dogs were once strays, conditioned to eat whenever they could and as quickly as possible. Others are scarred from their time on the inside….of the pound. No matter how long you own them (and how much you feed them), many never lose the instinct to fight for their dinner.

Pets can often share a water bowl without any issues. If you own both dogs and cats, it’s smart to put an additional water bowl somewhere only your cat can access it (such as the dryer). Dogs and cats do get along, but dogs are still dogs and the desire to chase pops up now and then. You don’t want your feline to refrain from drinking because they’re afraid of your canine’s canines.

Getting the Right Bowl for Your Pet

As mentioned above, the right size bowl can help keep your pet fit instead of fat. But that’s not the sole reason to purchase the most optimal product. Eating should be an experience that’s comfortable and enjoyable for all cats and dogs. And the right bowl assures this – it assures your pets love to eat instead of just really, really, really like it.

Surveys have discovered that pet owners commonly purchase pet bowls that are too big for their furry friends, setting themselves up to feed them too much. But the rule of thumb is simple: purchase a bowl that is only as large as necessary. This size is best determined by snout length: a bowl should allow your pet to effortlessly lick and grab their food. For this reason, long-faced dogs require deeper bowls than flat-faced breeds. Small dogs require very small bowls.

Bowls with lips make less of a mess than those without: the lip catches food before it falls onto your floor. Nonslip bowls do this too by reducing your pet’s ability to push the bowl all around your house….and then down the stairs and onto your freshly waxed tile. If you own multiple animals, nonslip bowls prevent your pets from pushing their bowls towards each other, something essential for a mutt that grows protective around its Puppy Chow.

A scooping utensil is as important as a bowl: measuring cups should be used to take the food from its bag. Using anything else – a coffee mug or your bare hands – results in guessing how much food you’re feeding your furballs, and this guess is routinely more than you think. If your pet is on a very strict diet, a kitchen gram scale provides the most accuracy.

A Tabby Tip: Small bowls work well for cats, but it’s possible for a bowl to be too tiny. If it is, your cat grows susceptible to whisker fatigue (yep…that’s a thing). Feline’s whiskers are more than hairs; they’re sensory organs that send messages between the brain and the nervous system. They’re highly sensitive and able to respond to subtle vibrations. Your cat uses them to figure out if they’ll fit into tight spaces, to feel, and to track prey.

Because whiskers are so sensitive, they tire easily. A cat that uses a tiny bowl rubs the whiskers against the bowl’s walls each time they take a bite. This leaves the whiskers fatigued and your cat uncomfortable. To help prevent this, use a pet bowl that is low and shallow.

Raised Bowls Versus Bowls on the Ground 

In vet circles, raised bowls have gained a lot of attention because of their link to gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV) in canines. It appears this attention is warranted: per Pet MD, a study involving 1,634 dogs found that GDV was more commonly found in dogs that ate from elevated bowls. It was also more common in large breeds, dogs with a family history, and dogs that ate quickly.

GDV is a life-threatening condition with a high mortality rate. It occurs when the stomach dilates because of food and gas, resulting in a rupture of the stomach wall, a loss of blood flow to the lining of the stomach, an ability of the lungs to expand, or disrupted blood flow to the abdomen and heart. It can become fatal very quickly and is a medical emergency. Treatment involves surgery that returns the pet’s stomach to the normal position.

Though the greatest concern in regards to GDV is your pet’s survival, this sort of emergency treatment is brutal on your finances too. Pet healthcare is similar to human healthcare when it comes to prices: everything costs an arm, a leg, and maybe a tail.

Purebreds are more prone to GDV than others: Great Danes, Weimaraners, St. Bernards, Irish Setters, and Gordon Setters are among the dogs where it’s seen. If you own one of these breeds, an elevated dog bowl compounds an already elevated risk; ground level bowls are a better option.

Even smaller dogs may benefit from low bowls – raised bowl are too high to reach: a growth spurt stands between them and their Alpo.

Still, ground bowls aren’t ideal for every pet. They can cause neck strain during feeding when dogs hunch over to eat. If you own a breed prone to skeletal issues or a dog that’s elderly, ground bowls might be something you want to avoid. Ultimately, it’s best to confer with your vet in regards to the risks and benefits of each type. And try to refrain from doing what your dog suggests and ordering them a pizza instead.

Other Types of Pet Bowls

Raised bowls aren’t the only speciality bowls on the market. Pet commerce is an extensive industry with a great deal of products available for purchase. We love our pets and we’re willing to spend money on the things we love. That’s why pet clothing exists.

This isn’t to say you need to go out and purchase your Cocker Spaniel a diamond-encrusted dish or a feeder made of crystal, but some dogs may enjoy eating off more innovative bowls. Some may experience better health as an added bonus.

Dogs that inhale their dinners in manners that rival the most accomplished professional eaters benefit from slow feeding bowls. These types of bowls are specially designed to give your dog pause during meals; the bowl’s divided into compartments which forces your dog to carefully manipulate the snout. Paced eating reduces the risk of GDV and may help manage weight – some dogs that eat slow grow fuller faster. Others continue to believe they’re starving to death.

Dogs able to self-feed are good candidates for automatic feeders. These feeders are more often used for felines, but once in a blue moon hounds have the self-control to eat because they’re hungry and not because they’re breathing.

Combination pet bowls, where the water bowl and food bowl sit side by side, are another option. Combo bowls have both perks and drawbacks. In the pro column, pets are more likely to drink if water is located near their food. But combo bowls require more frequent changing – morsels of Meow Mix and pieces of Purina constantly find their way into the H20.

A household with multiple pets isn’t likely to benefit from combination bowls; Shadow won’t understand that she’s allowed to use the water bowl but not allowed to touch Sammy’s food dish.

Some pets may enjoy pet bowls with cooling elements. These are bowls that keep water cold, which makes the liquid more inviting to dogs and cats. Any animal that stays outdoors or lives in a hot weather climate is likely to enjoy this invention.

Worth noting: cats are more particular than dogs when it comes to nearly everything. They stick up their noses at water that’s not up to their standards (i.e., too warm or too dirty). They’re more prone to dehydration as well, a condition that causes lots of issues with the kidneys and urinary tract. If you own a cat that’s not impressed by the boring water bowl, consider purchasing a water fountain. These offer a continuous stream that felines find fascinating. They’re even better than cardboard boxes.

Pet Bowl Materials 

Pet bowls are made with many different resources. One of the most common is plastic: it’s cheap and lightweight, making it an appealing purchase for the thrifty owner. Yet this – while an important and versatile material – isn’t the best choice when it comes to pet bowls. 

There are a few different reasons why plastic is not fantastic for Franklin and Fifi. First of all, some cats and dogs are allergic to it; though not common, it happens. Secondly, pets that like to chew tend to eat plastic bowls – swallowing large pieces puts them at risk for intestinal obstruction and probably isn’t great for their health in general. Some cats may experience feline acne when their chins come into contact with plastic material. Like the human acne we naively thought was merely a teenage thing, feline acne isn’t usually serious. But it can be uncomfortable for your pet and lead to secondary fungal infections.

Plastic bowls scratch easier than other types, which forces you to purchase replacement after replacement. Scratches in the plastic have the potential to trap bacteria – another negative. Vigorous cleaning doesn’t eliminate it altogether: bacterium can remain hidden in the crevice.

Better choices include stainless steel, glass, and ceramic bowls. These cost more initially, but they last longer and provide more durability.

No matter what type of pet bowl you purchase, don’t forget the other accessories you need. Food measuring scoops and food storage containers are vital to weight control and ant control (nothing is as inviting to insects as the aroma of rotten pet food). Mats are important to keeping your floors tidy. These come in cloth, plastic, or rubber. Cloth is harder to clean and typically involves the help of your washing machine.

How Much to Feed Your Pet

The nutritional needs of pets differ from breed to breed, by size, and by activity level: a Springer Spaniel that regularly goes to the dog park needs much more food than the Chihuahua that spends the day being pushed around in a stroller. To figure out what your furry friend requires, calculate their caloric consumption based on recommendations.

Most pet food offers guidelines on how much to feed your animal. The most crucial factors are your pet’s weight and age. Bigger dogs require more food than small dogs and puppies eat much more than seniors. If you have special circumstances – your dog has a medical condition or you own the only cat on the planet that enjoys jogging – ask your vet how many calories to provide each day.

Cats are much better at self-regulating than dogs. Unlike their canine counterparts, most felines won’t eat themselves to death if given the opportunity. This makes an automatic feeder, filled with dry food, a viable option. For wet food, cats rarely need more than a can of food in any twenty-four hour period. Most cats, if they spend their days laying around while occasionally pouncing on a threatening piece of dryer lint, need less.

Many owners feed their pets snacks periodically. If you toss your tabby a piece of tuna or your Shih Tzu a slice of steak, they won’t require as much of their own food come dinnertime.

In regards to water, dogs should drink around one to two cups per day for every ten pounds of weight. Cats require about ten ounces a day. If you own multiple pets, make sure your water bowl is big enough to accommodate all the tongues. In hot climates, more than one bowl may be best.

Washing Pet Bowls 

No matter how well your pet licks the bowl clean, it’s never really germ or bacteria free. If dogs were that good at cleaning, you could do away with your dishwasher and give your used plates to the mutt to sanitize – save money and water! Instead, pet bowls are like anything else – the more they’re used, the more scrubbing they require.

To be safe, pet bowls should be washed after every meal. You don’t need to put them in your Whirlpool daily, but scour them with soap and water. Running them through a machine every so often (three or four feedings) is recommended for optimum hygiene. This helps sterilize the bowls and removes any of the gross stuff pets are known for (i.e., so, so, so much drool).

Washing applies to water bowls too – they’re filled with water, but that doesn’t mean they’re self-cleaning! Scour the water bowl every time you replace its contents, which should be about every day.

Teaching Your Kids to Respect Food Bowls

The most docile, gentlest dogs and cats occasionally grow angry when their eating routine is disrupted. Rescue pets or those that used to be strays are more likely to exhibit this type of aggression. But no matter the pet, teaching your children to leave them alone as they eat is wise. Dogs that think a child is going to steal food might growl or bite; cats might hiss and claw.

The best thing to do is to never allow your children to go near pets as they eat – the animal’s “dining area” should remain off-limits to the pitter-patter of little human feet. Children should also be taught to stay away from pets when they’re snacking on treats: taking a bone from the mouth of a dog is a great way to lose a finger.

Many children are asked to feed their pets as part of their daily chores. While this kind of task instils responsibility in kids, it should be reserved for older ones who understand how important food is to animals (and those who know to never tease with bones or kibble). Food, to pets, is no joking matter.

Closing Thoughts 

It may involve trial and error before you find a bowl that’s ideal for your pet. Take into consideration their health, their needs, and the practicality of your purchase. But, above all, make sure each pet has a bowl to call their own. Otherwise, they’ll insist on sitting at the dining room table, on your lap as you eat.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty, bowls are an instrumental part of your furry friend’s life; dogs and cats’ priorities are as follows – eat, sleep, pay attention to owner if time permits. Yet they’re also an instrumental part of an animal’s wellness: if the right bowl helps keep your cat fit and fabulous or your dog free of serious gastric issues, it’s an obvious purchase. After all, none of us will be happy until our pets live forever.



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