Tips for Choosing the Best Bowl for Your Dog

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Dog looking at food bowl
Dog Looking At Food Bowl

You may think a dog bowl is a dog bowl, but all are not equal. Different dog bowls offer different features, and some are better than others. There are many different types of dog bowls out there, so it can be hard for dog owners to determine which kind is right for their dog.

An illustration of a puppy with it's head cocked to the side staring at different types of dog bowls
An Illustration Of A Puppy With It's Head Cocked To The Side Staring At Different Types Of Dog Bowls

When shopping for a dog bowl, some considerations include cost, style, safety, purpose, durability, and ease of cleaning. If you think about it, your dog's bowl is an important part of his basic nutritional health. Here's the lowdown on the main types of dog bowls available, as well as the pros and cons of each one.

  • 01 of 08

    Plastic Dog Bowls

    Dog eating from his plastic bowl
    Dog Eating From His Plastic Bowl

    Plastic dog food bowls come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. They tend to be inexpensive and unlikely to break if dropped. Many are dishwasher-safe. However, plastic bowls are generally not recommended for many dogs. Bowls made of plastic can be easily chewed or scratched by your dog, leaving places for bacteria to build up. Additionally, some dogs may develop an allergy to the plastic, resulting in a mild skin reaction on the chin or face. It's probably best to find a healthier option for your dog's meals.

  • 02 of 08

    Ceramic Dog Bowls

    Ceramic dog bowl
    Ceramic Dog Bowl

    A ceramic or stoneware dog bowl is a great way to express your style. These bowls are often decorated with fun designs and may even be handmade by artists. Their protective glaze makes them easy to keep clean, especially if dishwasher-safe. However, ceramic dog bowls will easily break if dropped. Even when handled carefully, these bowls can chip or crack, and become unsafe for your dog. Smaller, less visible cracks can harbor bacteria. Be sure to inspect your ceramic bowls regularly for damage.

  • 03 of 08

    Stainless Steel Dog Bowls

    Stainless steel dog bowl
    Stainless Steel Dog Bowl

    Stainless steel dog bowls are by far the most durable and are also dishwasher-safe. These bowls are sometimes made with a non-skid rim on the bottom to prevent spilling. Stainless steel bowls do not often come in colors or designs, though some can be found. However, they are practical, inexpensive supplies for your dog that stand the test of time.

    It's still important to take proper care of these bowls, however. They can develop stains or rust, especially if left outdoors. In addition, dogs that like to chew their bowls may even be able to damage stainless steel bowls and their own teeth in the process.

  • 04 of 08

    Elevated Dog Bowls

    Elevated dog bowls
    Travel Dog Bowls And Portable Dog Bowls

    Elevated dog bowls typically consist of two plastic, ceramic or stainless steel bowls in a stand. The stand is typically made of metal, wood or plastic. Experts believe that elevated feedings are healthier for dogs, possibly preventing gastrointestinal problems. Also, this type of bowl may be more comfortable for some dogs, especially giant dog breeds.

    If your dog tends to paw at his bowl, the stand should ideally be placed near a wall to prevent tipping. Elevated dog bowls may be on the expensive side, but they are often considered worth the price. Some even include a compartment to store food, which can be a good or bad feature depending on your dog's ability to cause some destruction!

  • 05 of 08

    Automatic Dog Bowls

    Automatic feeder dog bowl
    Travel Dog Bowls And Portable Dog Bowls

    Automatic dog bowls are standard dog bowls (often plastic) attached to a container or reservoir. Many are designed to keep your dog's bowl full as long as there is food or water in the storage compartment. Some automatic feeders are programmable, only giving your dog food access at the times you set.

    While non-programmable bowls are a good idea in order to keep water available to your dog, they are not often recommended for use with dog food. Free-feeding is not ideal for most dogs, as it does not allow you to monitor your dog's food intake accurately and can lead to weight problems. It's a better idea to use a programmable feeder, but know that there is always the chance that your dog can break in!

    It's probably a better idea to just feed your dog in person. However, an automatic feeder can come in handy if you work long hours and your feeder is tamper-proof.

  • 06 of 08

    Travel Dog Bowls

    Travel dog bowls and portable dog bowls
    Travel Dog Bowls And Portable Dog Bowls

    Travel dog bowls are a great way to bring food and water along for a car ride, trip to the park, vacation, or another excursion. They are typically made of polyester or similar fabric with a plastic or nylon liner, though some are specially designed from more rigid materials. The bowls can be folded or collapsed to smaller sizes once empty, making them easily portable. Travel dog bowls are not very expensive and quite worth it if you like to take your dog places.

  • 07 of 08

    Silicone Dog Bowls

    Collapsible silicon bowls
    Collapsible Silicon Bowls

    If you are looking for a portable dog bowl but don't need it to store food, a collapsible silicone bowl is a very convenient item. These bowls collapse to a flat design and open in an accordion-like fashion, making them somewhat adjustable by height. Many have clips so you can attach the collapsed bowl to a bag or belt loop.

    Silicone bowls can hold food or water, are dishwasher safe, and relatively durable. Of course, a dog can easily destroy a silicone bowl. It's best to pick up these bowls when not in use.

  • 08 of 08

    Slow Feed Dog Bowls

    Slow-feed dog bowl
    Travel Dog Bowls And Portable Dog Bowls

    Does your dog eat too fast? Many dogs gulp down their food. Though fast eating is not a problem for some dogs, in others it can lead to indigestion, excess gas, or even vomiting. Some professionals think that food-gulping might be a contributing factor to the development of bloat, or GDV, a dangerous condition where the stomach fills with gas and rotates (but fast eating is not a proven cause of GDV).

    Slow feed bowls are uniquely designed to make dogs eat more slowly. They typically have ridges or other structures in them that force the dog to take smaller bites of food at a time. Slower eating can help your dog better enjoy meals and feel less hungry afterward. These bowls are often made out of plastic, but some can be found in stainless steel.