The Best Material for Pet Food Bowls

When it comes to food bowls, pet owners have three basic choices – plastic, ceramic and metal (stainless steel).  The following list gives the pros and cons associated with each material.

1) Stainless steel- Stainless steel is a durable material that is great as either a food or water container.  It is easy to clean and comes in a variety of sizes, perfect for all kinds of animals.  I like it because it is durable, dishwasher safe and hypoallergenic.  Unfortunately, stainless steel does have one major drawback – shocks.  In dry environments, static electricity builds up when dogs and cats walk on carpeting.  The animal receives a nasty shock when they touch the bowl.  To prevent this, place metal bowls in non-carpeted areas.  Also, remove metal tags from collars.  

2)  Ceramic- Ceramic dishes are easy to clean and relatively inexpensive.  The main disadvantage is breakage.  The sharp fragments may cause severe injuries.  I have seen several lip, tongue and paw lacerations from broken dishes.  Also, make sure any paint or glazes on the piece are safe for animals.  Watch out for lead.

3)  Plastic – Plastic is cheap, lightweight and extremely durable.  My parrot has had the same bowl for fifteen years.  Unfortunately, many animals are allergic to plastic.  The most common sign is dermatitis of the chin and muzzle.  Pictured below is a dog who received an automatic food dispenser with a plastic bowl for Christmas.  This dermatitis developed in two weeks. 


Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.