Dog looking at a dirty dog bowl which needs to be cleaned

How Often Should My Pet’s Food Bowls be Cleaned?

If you are like most pet owners in the world, you don’t regularly take the time to clean your dog’s food and water bowls. This even holds true for dog owners who are otherwise fickle when it comes to their home’s cleanliness. There are a couple reasons that this is probably the case, including the fact that dry kibble and water don’t really make for messy bowls after eating is done and dog food bowls usually aren’t kept in the kitchen, so their cleanliness doesn’t seem as immediately important as, say, the plates you just ate spaghetti off of.

Recommended Frequency of Washing Your Pet’s Food Bowls

Like we all (or most of us) do with our own dishes, experts recommend that your pet’s food bowls be washed after each of their meals. And similar to the way we wash our dishes for human food, your dog’s food bowl should at the very least be cleaned with hot water and dish soap – it also won’t hurt to put it in the dishwasher with the rest of your plates, bowls, and silverware. And don’t worry, the stuff you eat with isn’t going to be contaminated by the dog’s dish being in the dishwasher, too.

As far as the water bowl is concerned, you can wait a little longer with it before giving it a washing. However, you should still wipe it down after every meal to remove any excess moisture. Still, the water bowl should be washed every three or four days – or even more frequently should the need arise.

Avoid a Buildup of Bacteria

Food left in the bowl, even when it comes to crumbs that aren’t visible to the naked eye, will attract bacteria. That bacteria can then spread to new dog food being placed in the bowl, which can lead to a nearly limitless cycle of bacteria growth in your dog’s dishes. Additionally, the bacteria from your dog’s mouth can make its way to the crumbs and moisture left in the bowls (or leftover food if your dog doesn’t finish its meals), which makes for near perfect conditions for the growth and spread of bacteria.

While many of the bacterias that can be spread this way are relatively harmless -especially to a healthy adult dog-, bacteria growth in your dog’s food bowl can carry some scary stuff, including:

  • Salmonella
  • Pseudomonas
  • Bacillus
  • Moraxella
  • Enterobacteria
  • Neisseria
  • Streptococci
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • And more…

While some of these can be very dangerous to your favorite furry member of the family, the spread of these bacteria can also lead to incredibly serious health issues with the humans in your life. These can be especially dangerous to small children, the elderly, and those who have problems with their immune system. That being said, we also recommend that you wash your hands every time you touch dog food or the dog food bowls.

You Don’t Need to Use Bleach

For pet owners who do wash food bowls, many of them take things a little too far and try using all sorts of harsh chemicals when washing them out. Not only is that overkill, you run the risk of introducing those intense cleaning agents to your dog’s digestive system, which can lead to all manner of health problems. As we noted earlier, the best way to wash your dog’s bowls is to just scrub it with soap and hot water (or toss it in the dishwasher, as also noted above).

We understand that you may not have washed your dog’s bowl in a long time (if ever), but that doesn’t mean you now have to overcompensate for that fact. Just start a daily routine of washing it out after every meal, which will go a long way in helping ensure your dog lives a longer, healthier life.

What Kind of Bowls Should be Used to Feed a Dog?

Without a doubt, stainless steel pet food bowls are the best option and for many reasons. Compared to plastic food bowls, stainless steel is not nearly as welcoming to bacteria. Likewise, dogs have been known to chew up and swallow pieces of their plastic food bowls, which is a near-impossible task for them to do with stainless steel.

Glass and porcelain food bowls are acceptable as well, but these run the risk of shattering and creating a physical hazard for both your family and pets. Stainless steel dog food and water bowls simply aren’t going to shatter, especially from everyday use or an accidental drop off the counter.