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The Dangers of Plastic Bowls for Dogs and Cats

Posted by Jessica McCarthy on

Your pet’s bowl is as important to their health as the food you feed them.  You may already know that plastic feeding bowls present a lot of health hazards to your dogs and cats, which is why we don’t recommend using them for your pets’ food or water.  Don’t worry if you’re currently using plastic, we have solutions for you – read on!

What’s wrong with plastic bowls?

While plastic bowls are usually cheapest and can come in some funky colours, the material itself poses health risks.  Some of the reasons we say no to plastic…

  • BPA, phthalates, and other toxins can leach into the food and get eaten up by your hungry pet. Yes it will only be a tiny bit at a time, but if they’re licking the bowl clean twice a day every day, those tiny amounts add up.  These chemicals can cause damage to your pets’ liver, kidneys, and other organs.  The leaching process is quickened by high temperatures (from the dishwasher, or even too much direct sunlight on the plastic).
  • Plastic is porous, allowing bacteria to seep in and get comfy, thriving off teeny bits of leftover food or even your pet’s saliva. Plastic bowls also invariably get small scratches over time, whether from being scrubbed, scratched, chewed, or dropped.  These miniscule spaces give bacteria even more room to get comfy.  Though you can wash the surface of the bowl clean, even the most diligent sponge can’t get at the microscopic bacteria.
  • Cats can develop feline acne, and both dogs and cats are at risk of infection from the bacteria living in plastic bowls. An allergic reaction to the plastic itself is also possible, which can cause sores and pimples to the mouth area and face.

So what’s the best kind of bowl for your pet?

Never fear, there are plenty of better options!  Our favourites for a daily-use bowl are stainless steel and ceramic bowls.  Here are the reasons why:

Stainless steel bowls are:

  • The most sanitary and bacteria-resistant, as they are non-porous so the bacteria can’t soak in to the surface
  • Affordable and long-lasting
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Unbreakable and uncrackable – even by toddlers, puppies, or adults who trip over them on the way to the fridge
  • While most stainless steel bowls are fairly boring to look at, our Urban Paws bowls have an elegant melamine outer and a non-slip base, so they are sanitary AND snazzy!

As for ceramic bowls, they are:

  • Definitely more sanitary than plastic IF they are properly glazed like ours are (unglazed ceramic is porous, so risks absorbing bacteria, but if properly glazed this is not a concern)
  • Stylish and attractive, making them a feature of your kitchen or counter rather than just a utensil
  • Available in a variety of colours and styles, including stackable options and ones that come with stands for a more comfortable eating and drinking experience
  • More fragile than stainless steel, so risk breaking or cracking if dropped, but you and your pets will love these gorgeous designs too much to let that happen!

If you’re looking for a pet-safe water bowl to take with you on hikes or camping trips, check out our collapsible silicon travel bowl.  We don’t recommend this for everyday use, as it’s not quite as durable as the ceramic or stainless steel options, but it will last you for many a fun outdoor excursion! 

Happy safe snacking to you and your pets, and let us know if you have any other questions about the best bowls for you!

Jessica McCarthy

Jess is a founding member of Natural Born Pets, and has been a writer and an animal lover all her life. A Cape Town gal and a lover of nature, the mission to bring proudly local and naturally healthy living to your pets is very dear to Jess's heart. Whether she's researching and writing non-fiction articles and social posts, devising full-length plays or short stories, or writing one of her infamously long and colourful emails to friends, Jess is happiest with a pen in her hand and a pet on her lap.

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