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Most responsible pet parents understand the importance of choosing the right dog food for their pooch. But have you ever really considered what you put the dog food and water in? Your immediate thought may be that it’s not a big deal, but Dr. Tyson Grover, a veterinarian at Friendly Vet in Lisle, Illinois, shares that there are actually several factors to consider when shopping for the best dog bowls and feeders, and not every bowl is a good choice for every dog.
We’ve rounded up a variety of dog bowls, feeders and water fountains to help you find the right one for your pet.
What to Consider Before Buying Dog Bowls and Feeders
Before you make any purchases, there are some things to keep in mind. Here are questions Dr. Grover recommends thinking about before choosing a dog bowl or feeder.
- How much space do you have? If you have the space, Dr. Grover advises getting a bowl much larger than you think you need. “It slows the pet down so they don’t gorge themselves,” he explains. “When the food is spread out flat on the bottom of the bowl, it helps them pace themselves.”
- How often do you feed your dog? If you’re feeding your dog several times a day, an automatic feeder could be a good option because it lets you time out all of your pet’s meals. According to Dr. Grover, many dogs can benefit from smaller, more frequent meals. Puppies should be fed smaller meals 3-5 times a day, to help them regulate their blood sugar. After 4 months of age, most dogs do well with two meals a day, but smaller, more frequent feedings can also help overweight dogs.
- How often can you wash your dog’s bowls? Choosing bowls that are dishwasher-safe can ensure your dog’s bowls are getting clean as often as is necessary. Even when they look like they’ve been licked clean, harmful bacteria can grow in your pet’s food and water dishes. Dr. Grover says it’s ideal to wash them daily, or at least every couple days. However, he emphasizes, “If you feed your dog raw food, you absolutely must wash their dishes twice a day.” In this case, it may be easier to hand-wash your dog’s bowls, allowing you to choose from nearly any material and style. Get more tips on how to clean your dog's bowl.
- What’s your dog’s energy level? Dr. Grover says if you have a breed that’s more energetic, you may want to look into puzzle bowls for dogs. He explains that they can help stimulate dogs who need more exercise.
- Where will you place your bowls? Because most pet parents put the bowls on slick tile or hardwood flooring, Dr. Grover recommends placing them on a mat. He explains, “All dogs, but especially older dogs, can lose their footing on slippery floors. The traction that a mat provides makes it easier for them to eat, and also gives them a place to lie down while they’re eating, which some dogs like to do.” In addition, if splashing is a concern, you may want to buy dog bowls or feeders that have a built-in placemat. If you’re worried about your dog bowls sliding around, look for something that has a non-skid base.
Now that you have your and your dog’s unique needs in mind, it’s time to get shopping! Here are the main types of dog bowls and feeders, and which dogs they’re a good fit for.
Types of Dog Bowls and Feeders
Basic dog bowls are what most people imagine when they picture dog bowls. They’re usually round and have a flat bottom that sits on the floor. For durability, Dr. Grover recommends glass, stainless steel (see more on that below), or ceramic dog bowls. Lightweight plastic bowls that are BPA-free are also safe, and can be a good choice for traveling. A heavier bowl, such as this stoneware dish from Ethical Pet
, is less likely to be knocked over by an excited eater.
Frisco Colorful Geometric Melamine Bowl
PetRageous Designs Vintage Food Ceramic Dog & Cat Bowl
Signature Housewares Bones Non-Skid Ceramic Dog Bowl
Stainless Steel Dog Bowls
Because stainless steel is stain-proof, rust-resistant and dishwasher-safe, stainless steel dog bowls are a durable and low-maintenance choice. They’re also a good option for dogs who are fed outdoors. Some stainless steel dog bowls, such as these from Frisco, have a rubber base to keep it from tipping or sliding around. The polished stainless steel finish blends right in with modern appliances, so they fit with a wide variety of home décor styles.
Perfect for: the no-nonsense dog.
Frisco Non-Skid Stainless Steel Bowl
Loving Pets Bella Bowls Pet Bowl
Frisco Stainless Steel Bowl
Elevated dog bowls, such as this set from Frisco
, can help your dog’s feeding station look tidy. Dr. Grover recommends raised dog bowls for dogs who have specific medical issues, such as megaesophagus
, or arthritis; eating in a more upright position helps the dog swallow more easily and takes some strain off their neck and back. They may not be a good choice for large dogs who are more at risk for bloat
as bloat has been linked
to eating from elevated dog bowls.
Perfect for: dogs who have megaesophagus, or neck or back problems.
Frisco Stainless Steel Bowl with Elevated Stand
Frisco Adjustable Stainless Steel Double Elevated Dog Bowls
Frisco Elevated Dog Diner
Does your dog scarf down their food, and then suffer from choking, vomiting or other digestive issues? A slow feeder dog bowl could be the answer. Slow feeders, such as this version from Outward Hound, have grooves that your dog has to eat around. “This slows down meal time,” explains Dr. Grover, “giving their stomach time to send nerve impulses to the brain that they’re getting full. Slow feeder dog bowls can also make a dog feel more satiated.”
Perfect for: dogs who need to eat less or more slowly.
Frisco Non-Skid Slow Feeder Dog Bowl
Loving Pets Gobble Stopper Slow Feeder
Frisco Silicone Slow Feeder Mat with Stainless Steel Bowl
Automatic feeders store dry pet food and can be programmed to dispense a certain amount whenever you wish. In addition to the ease of feeding your dog when you’re away from home, Dr. Grover recommends automatic feeders for dogs who are overweight. “We have a tendency to over-measure our pets’ food, so automatic feeders can make sure we aren’t giving our dogs too much food,” he says. This one by PetSafe connects to Wi-Fi, enabling you to schedule meals from your phone.
Perfect for: overweight dogs, pet parents who aren’t home for mealtime.
Arf Pets Automatic Dog & Cat Feeder
SureFeed Microchip Small Dog & Cat Feeder
DOGNESS Automatic WiFi Dog & Cat Smart Feeder with HD Camera
Gravity feeders, like this one from Frisco, are similar to automatic feeders, but the main difference is that the food dispenses on its own, and you don’t control the amount. As your dog empties the bowl, the bowl automatically refills (thanks to gravity!). For that reason, gravity feeders may not be a good choice for dogs who are prone to overeating. Instead, Dr. Grover says they’re best for dogs with smaller appetites.
Perfect for: dogs who are a healthy weight and like to graze throughout the day.
PetSafe Healthy Pet Food Station Gravity Refill Dog & Cat Feeder
Bergan Aut-O-Dine Dog Feeder & Storage
Frisco Circular Gravity Refill Dog & Cat Feeder
Planning a trip? Whether you’re camping, flying or driving, don’t forget your dog’s travel bowls. Most travel bowls are made from lightweight materials, such as silicone, plastic or even fabric, so they won’t weigh down your bags. They're designed to be durable, easy to clean and safe for feeding outdoors. A collapsible dog bowl, such as this one by Frisco that comes with a carabineer, won’t take up valuable space. Just clip it on your backpack or belt, and hit the trails!
Perfect for: doggies on the go.
Frisco Silicone Collapsible Travel Bowl Set
KONG H2O K9 UNIT Insulated Stainless Steel Dog Water Bottle & Travel Bowl
Alfie Pet Collapsible Fabric Travel Dog Bowl
Everybody loves a stylish label or monogram. Now you can personalize your dog’s bowls so there’s no confusion about which bowl belongs to whom. This ceramic bowl from Frisco can be easily customized to feature multiple colors and whatever text you wish. You can even choose the font. A custom dog bowl makes a cute gift to welcome a new pup.
Perfect for: households with multiple dogs.
Frisco Personalized "Paws Off" Ceramic Dog Bowl
Frisco Personalized Plaid Ceramic Dog Bowl
Frisco Personalized Boho Damask Ceramic Dog Bowl
Dog food and water go hand in hand, so why not combine them for a clean and simple look? Double dog bowls are available in a variety of styles, including elevated. They tend to include dishes that hold the same capacity, so if you have an especially hungry or thirsty dog, you may want to size up. This set of bowls from Frisco fits into a handy silicone mat to catch drips or stray kibble and keep the bowls from sliding around the floor. When it’s time to clean up, the whole thing can go in the dishwasher.
Perfect for: organized pet parents.
Neater Pets Feeder Elevated Dog Bowls
Frisco Square Melamine Dog & Cat Bowl Set with Bamboo Stand
Frisco Stainless Steel Double Dog Bowls with Melamine Stand
According to Dr. Grover, it’s important that dogs have free access to plenty of water throughout the day. If you find yourself constantly refilling your dog water bowl, or if you’re away from home for long periods, a pet waterer can be a convenient way to ensure your dog is getting the hydration they need. Like the gravity feeder, this pet waterer from Frisco uses gravity to automatically refill your dog water bowl when it gets low.
Perfect for: thirsty dogs, busy pet parents.
Petmate Pearl Replendish Waterer with Microban
PetSafe Healthy Gravity Refill Dog & Cat Waterer
Torus Filtered Dog & Cat Water Bowl
Dr. Grover says cats are more likely than dogs to like to drink from moving water, but if you find your dog drawn to running water, such as from a faucet or hose, then consider a water fountain. Water fountains have a pump to circulate the water, keeping it clean and fresh. This water fountain from Frisco is quiet, and easy to clean. Some pet parents find their pets drink more water from a fountain than from a regular bowl.
Perfect for: pets who are attracted to moving water.
Drinkwell Zen Stainless Steel Dog & Cat Fountain
Pioneer Pet Stainless Steel Dog & Cat Fountain Raindrop Design
Drinkwell Avalon Ceramic Dog & Cat Fountain
Dog bowls and feeders can have a big impact on your dog’s eating habits and overall health. If you choose right, they can last you for years to come. Thinking about your dog’s needs, personality and your lifestyle, will help you choose one that’s a good fit. Your vet can help you establish a feeding plan that’s a match for your dog. If you can combine the right bowls or feeders and the correct food, your dog will be on a great path for healthy eating.