What Exactly is Lurking in Your Dog’s Water Bowl?

Your dog’s water bowl is something that you probably think about very little. You will top it up with fresh water regularly for your dog and may rinse it out occasionally. Beyond that, it is unlikely you give the dog’s bowl a second thought. Therefore, would it surprise you to learn that a study has found that a dog’s water bowl ranks fourth on the list of the dirtiest places in your home?

In 2011, NSF International conducted a study which aimed to uncover which were the dirtiest places around the home. In the top three positions were the kitchen sink, kitchen sponges, and toothbrush holders. These were closely followed by dogs’ water bowls.

Dog owners often concentrate more on the cleanliness of their dog’s food bowl. They see the bowl as being contaminated once food has touched it and the dog has eaten from the bowl. Most people think of water as being a clean substance and may just give the bowl a quick rinse under the tap once a dog has finished their water before refilling with fresh water. According to the findings of NSF International, it seems that simply rinsing is not enough.

They found bacteria on bowls made of all different types of materials. There are even some that you will see if you do not clean out the bowl for a few days. One such bacteria is Serratia Marcesens, which appears as a light pinkish brown scum around the bowl. Some other bacteria that researchers have identified include E.Coli, salmonella, yeast, and mold.

This is not the only study that relates to the cleanliness of dog water bowls. Aisling Carroll and Coralie Wright from Hartpury College, England, conducted a study into the bacterial build-up in dog water bowls and how it interacts with the materials from which the bowl is made. They presented the findings of their research at the 69th Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science at Dubrovnik.

Their research involved testing stainless steel, ceramic, and plastic dog water bowls for bacteria. Their findings were that plastic dog water bowls contained the largest quantity of bacteria. It is believed that this is because plastic scratches and then bacteria can build up in these minute crevices. Scouring is not a good solution to this probably as it may temporarily get rid of the bacteria, but it will create more scratches where bacteria may lurk.

Ceramic bowls also had a large number of bacteria. Again, this was possibly because of cracks in the glaze harboring bacteria. Many of the bacteria were identified as harmful, including salmonella and MRSA. Even if there are no cracks, the research findings suggested that it was possible for the bacteria to create biofilms on the surface of ceramic better than on stainless steel. This would lead to a bacterial build up on the surface.

With the results of this research in mind, it seems that stainless steel bowls are the best option when it comes to avoiding bacterial build-ups in your home. There are further studies that also support the choice of stainless steel bowls over plastic or ceramic that does not relate to bacteria but also indicate potential health problems linked to other materials.

For example, there are studies that have shown that plastic bowls are bad for your dog’s skin and may particularly affect the nose and the skin surrounding this part of their face. The chemicals in the plastic can lead to a form of dermatitis that has been nicknamed Plastic Dish Nasal Dermatitis. It affects the production of melanin around the nose and mouth area, causing the dog to have strange pink patches in areas where they would normally have dark coloring. To avoid problems with a dog’s facial skin, many people have opted for ceramic bowls. Unfortunately, they are easily broken when you have an excitable dog jumping around the house.

So, what can you do to prevent a build-up of bacteria and keep your dog safe and healthy? These studies clearly show that the best option is to use stainless steel bowls. Not only do they have a lower bacterial build up, they do not affect the skin of your dog and are unbreakable. Another step you can take is to clean your dog’s water bowl with antibacterial spray instead of simply rinsing.


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