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How Often Should I Wash My Dog's Food And Water Bowls?

 Chris Cole

You wouldn't eat off a dirty plate, even if it was used just once, right? So why are we so lax about making sure our pets eat from clean bowls at every meal? A 2011 study conducted by NSF International found pet bowls to be the #4 germiest place in the home. Pathogens found in dog bowls include mold, yeast, e.coli, salmonella and Serratia Marcescens (you may see this pink stuff form a ring around the water bowl.)


Why You Don't Want Dirty Dog Bowls In Your Home

Your dog's digestive system is actually well-equipped to handle pathogens. Bacteria like salmonella rarely survive the highly acidic environment of a dog's stomach, and the dog's short digestive system allows bacteria to pass through without adequate time to overpopulate. So, if you forget to wash your dog's bowl after a meal sometimes, it's unlikely that they will be affected.Regardless, your dog can still be affected by microbes found in their bowls. especially if they are in ill health or well into their senior years. Some dogs develop acne on their chin as a result of unclean bowls. Bacteria can contribute to infections throughout your dog's body, from ear infections to urinary infections, all conditions that can be easily avoided with regular washing.Dirty dog bowls aren't great for the rest of your household, either. If you have small children, they may touch the dog's bowls while they're playing on the floor, and then may put their fingers in their mouth. Adults with compromised immune systems are also at risk for disease from close contact with unclean bowls. Food particles can also attract pests, and can create pungent odours that you may not even notice - but guests will.

The Best Bowls To Keep Bacteria At Bay

Plastic bowls are the hardest to keep clean. They tend to accumulate tiny nicks and scratches, in which bacteria can build up. If you must use them, clean them frequently, and replace them every few months.Ceramic and stainless steel bowls are best because they are non-porous and easy to sanitize. They can last the rest of your dog's life if cared for properly. Ceramic bowls can crack if dropped, in which case, they should be replaced as soon as possible.It's best to purchase a few sets of bowls so you can use a spare pair while others are in the wash. That way, your hungry dog won't have to wait for you to clean their bowls before dinner is served.

How Often To Wash Your Dog's Bowls

You should wash your dog's food bowl after every meal. You can wash their water bowl less frequently, but you will need to completely empty, sanitize and refill it at least once per week. Water bowls tend to collect a slimy build-up called biofilm, which allows harmful bacteria to take over. When you wash, be sure to completely remove it.

How To Sanitize Your Dog's Bowls

Wash dog bowls with hot, soapy water

It's important that you not only remove food particles and obvious debris from your dog's bowl, but also pathogens and build-up. To do this, you can't just clean the dog's bowls, you also need to sanitize them.Washing your dog's bowls with hot, soapy water, using the same dish detergent that you use on your own dishes, will work just fine. You can use a separate sponge for the dog's bowls if you'd prefer not to get kibble granules on your dinner plates.For especially stubborn debris, you can soak the bowls in a solution of water and bleach, just one tablespoon per gallon of water will do the trick. Make sure to completely rinse away the bleach solution and dry the bowls before using. You can also put most dog bowls in a household dishwasher.



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