At first, it might appear that a dog bowl is just a dog bowl, and that any type will work fine, as long as it holds the food and your pooch can eat out of it. However, there’s actually a lot more to choosing a dog bowl than many pet owners realize. That’s because they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are made of various types of materials, and some even offer special features that are designed to make eating an easier, healthier, and more enjoyable experience overall.
So, how do you choose the right bowl for your dog? Consider his unique disposition and needs, as well as his lifestyle. For example, if your pup tends to eat fast, a slow feeder or puzzle bowl can help slow him down and prevent digestive issues. If he’s your travel companion, a travel bowl is a great option to consider. For pups that have joint issues, elevated bowls can make mealtime more comfortable and enjoyable. And if your pet likes to chew or eats with zest, a stainless steel bowl will likely be able to stand up to feeding time.
With all of that said, below, the process of choosing a bowl for your dog can still be a bit daunting. To help you narrow down the options so you can pick the best bowl for your canine companion, we highlight five of the most popular dog bowls on the market. We offer a brief description of each type, what types of dogs they are best for, and features to look for when selecting each kind.
Puzzle Bowls/Slow Feed Bowls
These bowls feature obstacles, such as hills and ridges, which your dog has to work around in order to access his food. The purpose of this type of bowl is to slow down dog’s that eat too quickly or gulp their water, which can lead to digestive problems, such as discomfort, gas, and bloat. They can also make eating more challenging, which is a good thing for dogs that require mental stimulation, as it appeals to their hunting and foraging instincts.
If you think a puzzle bowl / slow feeder bowl is a good choice for your pup, you will find that there are a lot of options to choose from. Some bowls simply feature bumps and ridges, while others feature mazes and other obstacles that make feeding time more interactive and challenging. The features you choose really depend on your dog’s unique personality and needs. For example, if your dog eats too quickly and you want to slow him down, but you think that complicated mazes will frustrate him, choose a bowl that features a few bumps in the bottom; however, if he would enjoy and benefit from more challenging meals, than a puzzle bowl that features an intricate design, such as a maze with lots of twists and turns, might work well for him. Also, consider the material that the bowl is made out of. Plastic and stainless steel are the two most commonly used materials for these types of bowls. When choosing plastic, make sure that it is free of dangerous toxins, like BPA and phthalate. You might also want to consider investing in a bowl that has a non-skid bottom to prevent it from sliding around on the floor.
Ceramic bowls, or stoneware bowls, are made of ceramic, as the name suggests. These bowls come in a wide range of sizes and can feature fun colors and designs. They are usually coated with a protective glaze, which makes them easier to clean and more durable. Ceramic bowls are also generally considered safe for dogs that suffer from allergies. However, do be aware that this type of bowl does need to be treated with care, as the ceramic can break. So, if your dog eats with great zest, it might not be the right option for you.
If you are going to opt for a ceramic bowl, make sure that it’s coated with protective glaze. As mentioned, the glaze will make the bowl easier to clean and will prevent bacteria from growing in the porous material. Also, consider the size of your pup; you want to choose a bowl that can accommodate the amount of food or water that he needs. Lastly, if you want to prevent messes and frustration, a ceramic bowl that features a non-skid backing is ideal, as it will stop the bowl from sliding around on the floor.
For dogs that spend a lot of time out and about, a travel bowl is a must. These types of bowls are made of lightweight materials and can fold down so that they can be tucked away when they aren’t in use; for example, you could tuck it in a backpack while you’re taking a hike so that you can provide your dog with fresh water and food on the trails.
There are lots of travel dog bowls on the market, and some are better than others. The best bowls, as mentioned, are made of lightweight materials and can easily fold down and pop up. They work similarly to an accordion; when they aren’t in use, they are almost as flat as a pancake, but you can easily pop it up to transform it into a bowl that can hold food and water. The material should be sturdy, as the constant opening and closing can lead to cracks. Also, it should be free of toxins, such as BPA and phthalate. You might also want to consider a bowl that features a top so if your pup doesn’t finish a meal, you can cover it up and safe the food for later.
An elevated bowl is made to sit higher up off the floor. The bowl itself can be elevated, or it can be positioned in an elevated stand. Either way, elevated bowls are a great choice for dogs that suffer from neck or back injuries, or suffer from arthritis or hip dysplasia. Your dog won’t have to reach down as far to access his food or drink, which will make feeding and drinking a lot more enjoyable.
As discussed, elevated dog bowls can either be designed so that they are taller and sit higher on the ground, or they can be placed in a stand that holds them higher up. Which one should you choose? That really depends on your needs and what you think would work the best for you. With a bowl that’s elevated on its own, you only have one component to deal with, which might make things easier; however, because the bowl is larger, it will require more storage space. With a bowl that’s set into an elevated stand, you have two components to work with (sometimes three, as some options feature a spot for two bowls), which requires more set up. However, storage might be less of a concern, as you can leave the stand out and just stow away the bowls. Whichever option you choose, opt for a bowl that can hold the amount of food or drink your dog needs. Also, consider something that won’t slide on the ground to avoid messes.
Stainless Steel Bowls
Stainless steel bowls, as the name implies, are made of stainless steel. These bowls are the most durable and won’t break if they’re dropped. This material is also virtually impossible to chew through, so if your dog is a chewer, this is a good option to consider. Stainless steel is also easy to clean and isn’t porous, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria buildup.
If you are considering a stainless steel bowl, there are some things that you are going to want to keep in mind. Of course, like with any type of bowl, you want to make sure that it can hold the right amount of food or water for your dog. If your pup tends to move his bowl around while he’s eating or drinking, look for something that features a non-skin bottom to prevent spills and messes. You also want to look for a bowl that won’t rust or stain. While stainless steel isn’t supposed to strain or rust, if it’s poor quality, it can. These issues not only detract from the look of the bowl, but the can also be dangerous for your pup, as rust spots can cause ragged edges that your dog could potentially cut his tongue on, or could add rust to his food or water, thus negatively impacting the taste and the nutritional value.
By Jarett Gilpin
Jarett and his vapor wake dog, Toxi, help keep the students and public safe on the University of Notre Dame’s campus. Jarett knows what equipment, food and toys to keep Toxi safe, productive and still able to have fun.