It’s a simple matter to feed and water your dog, right? Grab a couple of bowls out of your cupboard, fill one with food and the other with water, put them on the floor, and watch him chow down. Nothing more to think about. Or is there?
Most vets recommend using a stainless steel or ceramic bowl. Why? They’re easier to clean. Plastic bowls are fine for traveling and other temporary uses, but not for day-to-day feeding and watering. Stainless steel bowls come in various shapes and sizes. This one is anti-skid, anti-tip and dishwasher safe.
Your dog doesn’t care what his food and water bowls look like, so get whatever appeals to you. If you’re an NFL fan, there’s a stainless steel bowl for every team. The exteriors are very colorful, with your team’s name on one side and its logo, the NFL shield and additional football graphics on the other. To protect your floor from spills, put an NFL no-slide mat underneath his bowls. If you’re an MLB fan, the mats and bowls also come in your favorite team’s colors with its logo and other baseball graphics.
Another stainless steel bowl option is an adjustable dog diner that comes with its own two bowls. The stand raises from 12 inches to 18 inches as your puppy grows. The more ergonomically correct feeding position lets your larger dog eat and drink from a healthier position that reduces bloat and gassiness by reducing the amount of air he swallows while eating and drinking. It’s also good if your dog is older and has hip and/or back problems.
If you prefer ceramic bowls, consider getting a set of made of hand-crafted stoneware. The food bowl says “Food” on the exterior and the water bowl says “Water.” Both have a bone-shaped graphic in the basin and are dishwasher and microwave safe.
When you travel with your dog, a collapsible plastic travel bowl packs easily and pops open with the flick of your wrist. Another good option is a set of waterproof fabric bowls that crush down for packing and stand up to hold his food and water. They have nifty travel graphics on the exterior and a drawstring cinch top to hold any leftover food.
As previously mentioned, plastic bowls are great for travel, but you shouldn’t use them for daily feeding. They’re almost impossible to sanitize and the plastic breaks down over time. This can cause toxic chemicals and/or dyes to leach into your dog’s food and water. Then too, oils and bacteria get caught in the peeling plastic. If you dog is a chewer, there’s also the likelihood that he’ll eventually chew at a plastic bowl enough to break off small pieces that he might even swallow.
When to Wash
You wouldn’t consider eating off a dirty plate that has remnants of yesterday’s food on it. Neither should your dog. Ideally, you should wash his bowls in hot, soapy water after each use. However, since most dogs are fed twice a day, putting his bowls into your dishwasher along with your own dinner dishes is more than sufficient. Otherwise the microbes that normally live in your dog’s mouth and saliva can transfer to leftover food bits or moisture that remain in the bowls and build up over time. This creates an ideal situation for bacteria growth. The Federal Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine warns that the following pathogens can invade your dog’s dirty food and water bowls:
If that scary list doesn’t send you running for your dishwasher, nothing will!
Assuming you’re washing your dog’s food and water bowls on a regular basis, you don’t need to sanitize them with bleach or other harsh cleaning agents. In fact, such caustic materials can be toxic to your dog if they’re not completely rinsed off his bowls. That’s why washing them in your dishwasher is so effective. Its extremely high washing and drying temperatures safely kill bacteria.
However, if you’re squeamish about putting your dog’s bowls into the dishwasher along with your human dinnerware, silverware, and pots and pans – why?? – scrub his bowls by hand in hot, soapy water every day. Be sure to run your hands over the interiors, exteriors and lips to make certain you’ve removed all the tiny food bits that can be difficult to see. Also make sure the bowls have no slimy feel to them. Finally, be sure to rinse and dry each bowl thoroughly before refilling his water bowl with cool water and allowing him to eat from his food bowl.
How Much Food?
Human obesity and canine obesity are running rampant and pose serious health risks for both people and dogs. Don’t overfeed your dog. It’s not kind; in fact, it’s a form of animal abuse. Don’t fill his bowl to overflowing. Most dogs will eat anything in sight whenever it’s in sight and some, like Beagles, are true chow hounds who don’t know when to quit.
Feed your dog a high-quality dog food that contains no grain, no gluten, no fillers, and no artificial colors and preservatives. There’s a reason why cheap dog foods are cheap. They’re low on nutrients, high on filler, and most of it goes through your dog’s digestive system and comes out the other end without ever being absorbed into his body. In addition, since he’s not getting sufficient nutrition from it, he wants to eat more.
Ask your vet what quantity of food he should be eating based on his breed, his age, and his ideal weight. You can’t necessarily trust the “recommended daily amount” figures on the dog food sack, especially with the cheaper brands. After all, their overriding purpose is to sell more dog food, not to provide the correct nutrition for your dog. Trust your vet instead. Once he or she tells you what quantity to feed, use a measuring cup to scoop that amount out of the dog food sack. The problem with unmarked scoops is that it’s all too easy to give him too much food.
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