How Often Should You Clean Your Dogs Food and Water Bowl?

When it comes to cleaning, one of the most overlooked areas in the house according to the National Science Foundation is our dog’s food and water dishes.  In fact, pet bowls were found to be the fourth grimiest areas of the home, teeming with bacteria.  Are you washing your pet’s bowls often enough?

Food and Water Dishes Should be Washed Daily

Although most dogs lick their food bowls clean, the microscopic residue that is left behind harbors multiple types of bacteria, including Salmonella and E. Coli.  If your dog eats dry food, bowls should be washed once per day, after the final meal of the night.  For dogs that consume wet or raw food, it is necessary to wash and sanitize the bowls after every meal.  Water bowls should also be cleaned daily, in order to prevent the growth of molds, yeast, algae, and fungi.  One of the most common types of bacteria found in water bowls is Serratia Marcesens, which forms a pink slime and causes infections such as pneumonia.

Bowl Material Matters

A dog’s food and water dish should be made from stainless steel, porcelain, or another non-porous substrate.  Materials that are easily scratched or contain pores, such as plastic and ceramic, should be avoided.  These types of bowls can trap bacteria, making them difficult to disinfect.

How to Disinfect Food and Water Bowls

Bowls should be washed similarly to human dishes.  If washing the bowl by hand, use hot, soapy water and a soft rag or sponge.  Avoid anything abrasive, such as a wire cloth, in order to decrease the risk of scratching the bowl’s surface.  Always use soap, as simply rinsing the bowl in hot water has been proven ineffective.  Another option is to place the bowl in the dishwasher, which will ensure complete sanitization.  The NSF also recommends placing bowls in a 1:50 water/bleach dilution once per week for 10 minutes to fully disinfect bowls if a dishwasher is unavailable.

Hacks for Washing Food and Water Bowls

If you are unable to adequately clean your dog’s food and water bowls daily, there are alternative options that may make your life easier and improve your pet’s health.  Disposable bowls can be used, and plastic dog bowl inserts can be purchased at most pet stores.  While this option is not as environmentally friendly as washing your dog’s bowl daily, it can work in a pinch if you are unable to clean the bowl properly.

Another popular option is to purchase multiple bowls and rotate them daily if the dishwasher isn’t frequently run.  This allows for a fresh food and water bowl daily for your dog with less work.  For water bowls, purchasing an electric fountain that keeps fresh water circulating is also a great option.  Ultimately, when pets do not have safe sources to eat and drink from, they may avoid eating and drinking completely, leading to weakness and dehydration.  After all, if you would not eat or drink from the same dishes daily, why should your pet?