Which Dog Bowl Is Best For Your Dog? - Canine Compilation
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Which Dog Bowl Is Best For Your Dog?

The Complete Dog Bowl Guide: Types, Material, Cleaning and Best Dog Bowls

Are You Doing the Best By Your Dog? Let’s Talk Dog Bowls – Types, Materials, Cleanliness and Design.

What type of bowl does your dog have? You might not know it, but recent research has shown that certain kinds of dog bowls can present health risks for your beloved dog. Add to that the germs and bacteria present in bowls that are poorly (or rarely) cleaned.

We’ll look at the different types of dog bowl material – ceramic, plastic, and stainless steel – to help you decide which one is best for your pet. We’ll also look at some important information about how the state of your dog’s bowl can affect not just your dog’s health but yours too!

Finally, we’ll list the best dog bowls on the market for different uses and types of dogs. We have recommendations for premium/luxury dog bowls, mid-range dog bowls, and also budget dog bowls. Whatever their cost, they’re all made from dog-safe materials to protect your pooch.

thumb image making a snuffle mat guide
In this article
  1. YOU PROBABLY AREN’T CLEANING YOUR DOG’S BOWLS OFTEN ENOUGH
  2. HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR DOG’S BOWLS?
  3. HOW TO WASH YOUR DOG’S FOOD AND WATER BOWLS
  4. TYPES OF DOG BOWLS
  5. ARE STAINLESS STEEL OR CERAMIC BOWLS BETTER FOR DOGS?
  6. WHAT IS THE BEST DOG BOWL?
  7. THE TYPE OF STAINLESS STEEL USED TO MAKE DOG BOWLS MATTERS
  8. BENEFITS OF STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWLS
  9. BEST STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWL
  10. BEST AFFORDABLE/BUDGET DOG FOOD BOWLS
  11. BEST SLOW FEEDER DOG BOWL
  12. BEST BOWLS FOR MESSY DOGS
  13. BEST MAT FOR MESSY EATERS / BEST MAT FOR DOG WATER BOWL
  14. BEST DOG BOWLS FOR SMALL BREEDS
  15. BEST BOWL FOR FLAT FACED DOGS
  16. BEST DOG BOWL FOR OLDER DOGS
  17. BEST WATER DRINKING BOWL FOR DOGS
  18. BEST PREMIUM DOG WATER BOWL – YETI BOOMER DOG BOWLS
  19. BEST ELEVATED DOG FEEDER / BEST RAISED DOG BOWL
  20. BEST TRAVEL DOG BOWL / BEST COLLAPSIBLE DOG BOWL
  21. CONCLUSION

Before we get started on types of dog bowls though, let’s address something pretty basic – the state of your dog’s bowls.

YOU PROBABLY AREN’T CLEANING YOUR DOG’S BOWLS OFTEN ENOUGH

Like so many things in life, if we treat our dogs as we would a human child, they’ll probably be healthier and happier. Don’t give them too much food that’s bad for them, clean their bed covers regularly, clean their dishes after each meal, give them fresh, clean water every day… All pretty simple stuff.

Except lots of us aren’t doing some of those things for our 4 legged kids. It’s not that we don’t care: we just don’t give it a thought.

Take your dog’s bowls, for instance. How often do you clean them? Can you remember the last time? Don’t feel embarrassed if the answer is no – we’ve all done it!

In fact, in a study done by the NSF, dog bowls came in as the 4th most germ-ridden places in the average home, with pet toys at number 7.

The problem is that some of the germs and bacteria present in your fur baby’s bowls are harmful, and not just to her, but to the 2 legged people in your family too.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN YOUR DOG’S BOWLS?

You might be thinking that since your dog eats off the floor quite happily, there’s no need to clean her bowl daily. However, that’s just encouraging germs and bacteria to grow, not to mention inviting flies to lay eggs in your dog’s bowl…

Ideally, food bowls should be cleaned daily. If you feed raw, it’s good practice to clean the bowl after each meal, since raw food can contain more potentially harmful bacteria than cooked food.

Water bowls should be thoroughly cleaned every couple of days too.

Although I don’t clean my girl’s water bowl every day, I do replace the water with fresh water daily. Once you get into the habit of doing it – like any other habit – it’s not a big deal.

HOW TO WASH YOUR DOG’S FOOD AND WATER BOWLS

The best way to wash your dog’s bowls is in a dishwasher – the water temperatures in dishwashers are hot enough to kill off bacteria.

However, not all of us are lucky enough to have a dishwasher. Plus, the dog bowls we have might not be dishwasher-safe.

Instead then, wash your dog’s bowls by hand. Fill a bowl with hot, soapy water and clean it with a scratch-free sponge until all food residue or slimy film has been removed.

If your dog’s bowl is made of stainless steel, DON’T use a metal wire brush or abrasive scrubbing sponge to clean the bowl. Wire brushes can ruin a stainless steel surface and make it oxidise over time (ref).

After hand-washing, rinse the bowl with cold water to remove any soapy residue before drying it off or leaving it to air dry.

I use a separate scrubbing pad for cleaning my girl’s bowls to the one I use for my own dishes. I also clean all cleaning cloths and sponges regularly in bleach – one of the habits that stuck from having had a dog treats company with a high degree of health and safety rules to follow. Incidentally, that same NSF study found that the most germ-ridden place in our homes is the kitchen sponge/dish cloth!

best dog bowl

TYPES OF DOG BOWLS

Believe it or not, the material your dog’s bowl is made from is crucial. Apparently, bacteria thrives on some materials more than others. There are 3 common types of dog bowls: ceramic, plastic or stainless steel.

A 4th type – glass – is gaining popularity. Lead-free, hardened glass bowls are another excellent option from a cleanliness point of view. However, they don’t tend to be made with dog bowls in mind, plus they present a bit of a safety risk in terms of breakages.

A study done at Hartpury University measured the build-up of bacteria in dogs’ water bowls. They investigated not only how often the bowl was washed, but also the effect of what the bowl was made from.

ARE STAINLESS STEEL OR CERAMIC BOWLS BETTER FOR DOGS?

The conclusion? Material matters – The Hartpury study showed plastic and ceramic bowls are far more likely to have dangerous bacteria growing on them than stainless steel bowls are. The study also showed that more bacteria tends to grow on plastic bowls, but the more harmful bacteria thrives on ceramic bowls.

Yuk! Are you now thinking you need some new dog bowls?

WHAT IS THE BEST DOG BOWL?

Go to any pet store and you’ll be faced with zillions of different dog bowls. There’s something for big dogs, little dogs, gulpers, old dogs… so which is the best dog bowl?

We already know that stainless steel dog bowls are better and safer than their plastic or ceramic counterparts, but there’s cheap stainless steel, and then there’s good quality stainless steel… not all stainless steel is good for your fur baby.

Certain cheaper stainless steel products leach chemicals and rust over time. Not only that, some poorly made stainless steel items have been found to contain dangerous levels of lead. Others have been recalled because they were radioactive – yikes!

THE TYPE OF STAINLESS STEEL USED TO MAKE DOG BOWLS MATTERS

So how do you know which are the best stainless steel dog bowls? Better products will give you information about the metal composition. This is often stated as a number, or sometimes shown as a % breakdown.

For instance, one of the best quality stainless steel types is 304 series (sometimes called 18/8). The % refers to the metal composition, eg 18/10 – contains 18% chromium and 10% nickel.

201 stainless steel on the other hand contains 15% chromium and 5% nickel. Because the content of nickel and chromium in 304 is higher than in 201, 304 is much rust-resistant than 201.

BENEFITS OF STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWLS

In general, stainless steel bowls are the best choice for your dog’s bowls:

  • best for the ability to clean the mini-micro invisible bacteria that grows on ceramic and plastic bowls
  • best for dogs that carry around their bowls or try to tip them over
  • best for durability, you can’t break them
  • easy to clean

BEST STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWL

For the best stainless steel dog water bowl or best dog food bowl, BasisPets have it covered.

BEST OVERALL STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWL

If you want the best for your beastie, go for a BasisPet dog bowl. Safe, strong, made in the USA and available in various sizes, this is the king of dog bowls.

Buy through the BasisPet link below for multiple bowl discounts.

picture of a Basis Pet dog bowl with design notes

REVIEW OF BASISPET DOG BOWLS

Not only do BasisPet have a fantastic range of bowls, providing something for every kind of dog, but the quality of their products is also second to none. This is a company that creates dog bowls with the wellbeing of our dogs front of mind.

They have excellent transparent business practices – such as making their independent testing results public – which rightfully earn them lots of trust. Buy a BasisPet dog bowl and you’ll still be serving your dog’s food or water in it for years to come.

Here’s a summary of the benefits of the Basis Pet dog bowls:

  • Made of Durable, 304 18/8 Stainless Steel
  • Dishwasher Safe & Easy to Clean by Hand
  • Tested for Lead, Mercury, and Cadmium by an independent lab
  • 1000s of 5-Star User Rated reviews
  • No quibble, Money-Back Guarantee, including the return shipping cost
  • Excellent customer support
  • Made in the USA
  • Excellent design- straight sides and rounded corners helps keep your dog’s food in the bowl, as well as making it easier for your dog to eat from.
  • A full range of dog bowl sizes, from bowls for small dogs to extra large dogs, and low profile bowls suitable for flat face dogs.

The company does produce its own stands and holders. They also provide complete dimensions of their products so you can check to see if the bowl fits in a stand you already have.

Not only that, they offer non-slip mats if you prefer to put the bowl on the floor.

If you get a BasisPet product and you decide it’s not for you, they not only give you your money back, they’ll cover the return shopping too. This is a company with a lot of confidence in its products.

They offer a discount for buying 2 or more bowls, with up to 20% off for a 4-pack, great for you if you have multiple dogs!

Here’s a breakdown of the bowl sizes and capacities:

Basis Pet dog bowl information
Image courtesy of BasisPet

BEST OVERALL STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWL

If you want the best for your beastie, go for a BasisPet dog bowl. Safe, strong, made in the USA and available in various sizes, this is the king of dog bowls.

Buy through the BasisPet link below for multiple bowl discounts.

picture of a Basis Pet dog bowl with design notes

BEST AFFORDABLE/BUDGET DOG FOOD BOWLS

PETFUSION STAINLESS STEEL DOG BOWLS

Pet products can be expensive, but the stainless steel dog bowls from PetFusion are not. They’re made of 304 stainless steel, so they are still good quality and safe for your pooch to eat from.

Your dog won’t be able to break it easily though so one of these bowls won’t need replacing any time soon. Since some dogs love to trash their stuff, the best durable bowl for active dogs (nice way of saying naughty dogs) is a stainless steel one!

The PetFusion bowls are lighter than the BasisPet bowls though. They don’t come with the same level of testing and customer service that the best all-rounder, BasisPet does either. However, for a cheaper option that is well-made and safe to use, the PetFusion bowl is our recommendation for best budget stainless steel dog bowl.

These are no-tip bowls with a silicone ring bonded to the base, so they don’t slip or tip easily either.

PetFusion also make a shallow design that is perfect for snub-nosed and flat-faced dogs. Made of the same food-grade, 304 stainless steel, the PetFusion shallow dog bowl is a great affordable alternative to the BasisPet low profile bowl.

BEST AFFORDABLE NO-TIP DOG BOWL

Made of good quality, pet-safe stainless steel, rugged and easy to clean, the PetFusion dog bowl is a fantastic low-cost option.

BEST BUDGET SHALLOW DOG BOWL FOR FLAT-FACE BREEDS

Also by PetFusion, their shallow dog bowl is perfect for snub-nose and flat-face dog breeds.

BEST SLOW FEEDER DOG BOWL

Slow feeder dog bowls are great not only for controlling those gulpers out there, they’re also fantastic enrichment devices. I often give my girl some of her dinner in a slow feeder and she’s not a gulper – it’s simply part of her enrichment activities. If you don’t already do Free Work with your pup, take a look at this article on how to do Free Work enrichment – your dog will thank you for it!

Most slow feeders are made of plastic, but not all. Given that I’ve already advised you to ditch plastic bowls, I could hardly recommend a plastic slow feeder bowl. However, we have 3 excellent options for the best slow eating dog bowl, made of 3 different material types – a simple stainless steel design, food-grade rubber and finally, bamboo.

BEST STAINLESS STEEL SLOW EATING DOG BOWL

For a simple slow feeder, this stainless steel option from Yangbaga is great. It’s made from 304 stainless steel and has an anti-skid base.

BEST STAINLESS STEEL SLOW FEEDER DOG BOWL

  • Anti-slip base
  • Made of 304 stainless steel
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Med/Large size – holds 4-6.4 cups dry food
  • Fits in most raised feeding stations

However, it might lack the challenge that some dogs need. For that, the best dog bowl for fast eaters would be something like this bamboo version.

BEST BAMBOO SLOW EATING DOG BOWL

This slow feeder dog bowl is made from bamboo fibre and corn starch, not chemicals, so it won’t leach chemicals further down the line – an environmentally friendly AND dog-friendly product! It was designed by a group of vets and pet owners intent on making healthier pet products.

BEST BAMBOO SLOW FEEDER DOG BOWL

  • Anti-slip base
  • Made of bamboo fibres and corn starch
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Med/Large size – holds 4-6.4 cups dry food
  • Thick-wall construction to make it more rugged and durable
  • The design slows feeding wihtout creating frustration
  • Suitable for ‎Small, Medium and Medium-large breeds

BEST RUBBER SLOW EATING DOG BOWL

Did you know that licking calms your dog? Studies have shown that it does, and this bowl encourages your dog to just that!

Whilst this slow feeder bowl is not suitable for kibble, if your dog eats wet food or raw food, I highly recommend the LickiMat Wobble. It’s made from food-grade rubber, it’s dishwasher-safe, plus, it’s another fantastic enrichment option.

My girl gets kefir, yogurt or ground meat in her Wobble bowl every day. I often just crack a raw egg in it. It’s so versatile. If you like the idea of feeding on lickimats, see this article with lots of lickimat topping ideas.

BEST LICKIMAT SLOW FEEDER DOG BOWL

  • Provides enrichment while eating
  • Made of food-grade rubber
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Med/Large size
  • Rugged and durable
  • Encourages licking, proven to be good for dogs’ health

BEST BOWLS FOR MESSY DOGS

My beautiful boy, sadly no longer with me, was the world’s messiest eater. I managed this in 3 ways:

This combination kept the mess to a minimum and also made it quick and easy to clean up spills and food residue.

BEST MAT FOR MESSY EATERS / BEST MAT FOR DOG WATER BOWL

Dogs tend to lick up food or water that spills onto the mat, so getting a dirt-cheap mat that isn’t food grade rubber or silicone isn’t going to help your dog. If you’ve gone to all the trouble of finding dog bowls that won’t leach nasty chemicals into your pup’s food, it makes sense to do the same with the mat.

BEST MAT FOR DOG BOWLS

  • Non-slip surface stops bowls sliding around
  • Made of food-grade silicone
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Choice of size and colour options
  • Rugged and durable
  • 5mm raised lip to keep water splashes contained
  • Non-toxic
  • Life time warranty

BEST DOG BOWLS FOR SMALL BREEDS

BEST BUDGET DOG BOWL FOR SMALL DOGS

PetFusion No-tip Dog Bowl

  • made of pet-safe 304 stainless steel
  • easy to clean
  • fantastic low-cost option
  • non-slip ring on base

BEST OVERALL DOG BOWL FOR SMALL DOG BREEDS

BasisPet Dog Bowl

  • tested to the highest standards
  • made of sturdy 304 stainless steel
  • excellent design
  • dishwasher safe
  • excellent customer service

BEST LUXURY DOG BOWL FOR SMALL DOGS

YETI Boomer 4

  • Made of double-wall 304 stainless steel
  • choice of colours
  • dishwasher safe
  • won’t budge – solid, heavy bowl with hidden no-slip base

The best dog bowl for small dogs is BasisPet. For the best affordable dog bowl for small dogs, we recommend PetFusion. Both are made from 304 stainless steel so you can be confident that no nasty chemicals will be leaching out into your fur baby’s dinner.

BEST BOWL FOR FLAT FACED DOGS

BEST AFFORDABLE DOG BOWL FOR FLAT FACED DOGS

Made of good quality, pet-safe stainless steel, rugged and easy to clean, the PetFusion dog bowl is a fantastic low-cost option if you have a snub-nose or flat-face dog breed.

BEST OVERALL DOG BOWL FOR FLAT FACED DOG BREEDS

If you want the very best for your dog, go with BasisPet.

With a low profile design, the BasisPet small bowl is great for flat-faced breeds like pugs and Shih Zhus.

Buy through the BasisPet link below for multiple bowl discounts.

BasisPet small dog bowls are suitable for flat faced dogs like pugs

BEST DOG BOWL FOR OLDER DOGS

Every dog is different. For some older dogs, a raised feeding station relieves neck strain when standing to eat. For others, they prefer to eat lying down, in which case a raised eating station is pointless.

If the bowl is on the floor, a non-slip base on the bottom is better for an older dog – the bowl will stay in place and not have your poor pup chasing the bowl around the kitchen.

With my older dog, when he began to prefer to eat lying down, not standing, I swapped out his raised feeder for a stainless steel bowl on a feeding mat. He also enjoyed his slow feeder, but again, on the floor, not a raised station.

Whether on the floor or a raised station, the best bowl for an older dog is a stainless steel bowl – be sure to make sure it is easily accessible for your dog so he doesn’t need to stretch or strain to get to it.

BEST WATER DRINKING BOWL FOR DOGS

There really is no difference between a dog bowl for water and a dog bowl for food. Often though, the water bowl is larger than the food bowl. A good dog water bowl should hold lots of water. If you have a big dog, you’ll need an oversized water bowl.

Does your pup love to drag their bowls around? If so, go for a no-tip bowl or a bowl that is heavy enough to prevent being tipped over. If your budget stretches to it, the Yeti bowls. are the very best. Alternatively, a raised bowl stand is often enough to keep the water bowl firmly in place.

Whatever size the bowl, it’s best not to let the water level get too low – even if your dog doesn’t drink lots of water, replenish the water in her bowl every day with clean, fresh water. A full water bowl is less likely to be emptied quickly, but it is also less likely to lead to a concentrated level of germ-ridden water.

Keep the bowl clean too – it should never get to the point where it has a slimy coating on the bowl. Clean your dog’s water bowl every couple of days but rinse it out and fill it with fresh water daily.

Some pups just love the challenge of tipping their bowl over. They’d be hard pushed to do that with this premium water bowl for dogs. The Yeti Boomer 8 is also the best bowl for large dogs because of its size.

BEST PREMIUM DOG WATER BOWL – YETI BOOMER DOG BOWLS

The Yeti Boomer Dog Bowl is the king of dog bowls – it’s durable and incredibly solid, built with a double-wall stainless steel construction. Its weight, together with the discrete non-slip base, prevent your dog from pushing the bowl around. It can be used as a dog water bowl or a food bowl. It’s so rust-resistant it can even be used outside.

Yeti only make two sizes of dog bowls – the Yeti Boomer 4 is a smaller bowl that can take up to 4 cups of food/water, and the Yeti Boomer 8 is twice the size, for up to 8 cups.

BEST DOG WATER BOWL – SMALL

YETI Boomer 4

  • Takes up to 4 cups water
  • Made of double-wall 304 stainless steel
  • choice of colours
  • dishwasher safe
  • won’t budge – solid, heavy bowl with hidden no-slip base

BEST DOG WATER BOWL – LARGE

YETI Boomer 8

  • Takes up to 8 cups water
  • Made of double-wall 304 stainless steel
  • choice of colours
  • dishwasher safe
  • won’t budge – solid, heavy bowl with hidden no-slip base

Yeti products are pricey though, so if you’re looking for the best mid-range dog water bowl, a BasisPet bowl will do the job beautifully. It doesn’t have a non-slip base so you’ll either need to put it in a raised station or on a silicone mat.

For the best budget dog water bowl, PetFusions bowl are designed to be no-tip, with a bonded silicone ring on the bottom to stop the bowl sliding across your floor.

BEST AFFORDABLE NO-TIP DOG WATER BOWL

PetFusion No-tip Dog Bowl

  • made of pet-safe 304 stainless steel
  • easy to clean
  • fantastic low-cost option
  • non-slip ring on base

BEST MID-RANGE DOG WATER BOWL

BasisPet Dog Bowl

  • tested to the highest standards
  • made of sturdy 304 stainless steel
  • excellent design
  • dishwasher safe
  • excellent customer service

BEST ELEVATED DOG FEEDER / BEST RAISED DOG BOWL

If you’d rather feed your dog from a raised feeder, rather than on a mat on the floor, these elevated dog feeding stands are perfectly suited to fit the PetFusion or BasisPet bowls recommended in this article. Since many dog bowls are made to a standard size, you’ll probably find that any existing dog bowls you already have will fit in these feeders too.

I’ve seen some pretty wooden bases, but they wouldn’t be my first choice – they’re much heavier and harder to clean than their plastic counterparts. Plus you can’t adjust the height setting.

STANDS FOR PETFUSION DOG BOWLS

  • 2 height options
  • Single stands ‘snap’ together with magnets
  • Made of premium translucent acrylic
  • Stain resistant
  • Well made
  • Easy to clean
  • Non-slip feet and bowl insets

STANDS FOR BASISPET DOG BOWLS

  • 2 height options
  • Single or double bowl versions
  • Made of FDA and NSF listed food-safe HDPE plastic
  • Stain resistant
  • Rugged and durable
  • Easy to clean
  • Made in USA
Raised stand for BasisPet dog bowls

BEST TRAVEL DOG BOWL / BEST COLLAPSIBLE DOG BOWL

Clearly, you won’t want to take bulky dog bowls with you on the road. For a great travel bowl this collapsible rubber bowl is the perfect choice. It’s made of food grade silicone and it’s dishwasher-safe so you can be sure it’s thoroughly cleaned after each use. It also has a lid which means you won’t be dripping water all over your vehicle after your dog’s had a drink.

BEST COLLAPSIBLE DOG BOWL

  • Comes with lid – reduce drips
  • Made of non-toxic, food-grade silicone
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Carabiner for hooking it to a bag or belt
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Durable and strong

CONCLUSION

The best dog bowl material is stainless steel, so to keep your dog happy and healthy, go for a stainless steel option where bacteria won’t thrive as much as on plastic or ceramic dog bowls. We looked at 3 manufacturers to give you budget, mid-range and premium options, all made with 304 food-grade stainless steel.

There are lots of fantastic stainless steel dog bowl varieties available for every kind of dog. Whatever you choose, clean it often to keep your 2 and 4 legged family members safe!

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