Breaking news: your favorite pup's food bowl could be contaminating your home, and doggo, with gross germs. Let's discuss the best type of feeding device, how dirty your dog dish actually is, plus ways to keep it more sanitary.

ceramic food and water dog bowls

Contamination Station

Most pet owners aren't cleaning their food and water bowls often enough. How do we know? Well, according to NSF International, a public safety organization, animal bowls are the fourth dirtiest thing in our homes. Some of the grossest things you can imagine are swimming in those receptacles, like salmonella, giardia (a parasite), staph, E.Coli, mold, and yeast. But how do they get so dirty? Because dogs eat with their mouths, the microbes that normally thrive there can be easily transferred to the surface of the bowl. Plus, depending on the type of food, it can grow its own bacteria if left out for too long uneaten. How unappetizing!

golden retriever puppies eating from big bowl

The Gold Standard

What material is your pet's dish? Many owners love the cheap and convenience of a plastic option. However, plastic is impossible to sanitize because bacteria can live in tiny scratches on the surface. Also, as plastic breaks down, it can release dangerous chemicals into your furry friend's food and water. The gold standard is stainless steel, but ceramic bowls will also do the trick as long as they're crack-free. Run, don't walk, to the pet store and upgrade your bows immediately to help keep you and your pet healthy and your home clean. And for travel, if you don't want to lug bowls around, give these disposable dishes a try.

dirty dog bowls

David Tadevosian/Shutterstock

How Much Is Enough?

So how often should we actually be cleaning our pets' bowls? Honestly, the answer may surprise you... it's after EACH and every use. That means every day, twice a day for most adult dogs. To effectively clean dog dishes, wash them with hot hot hot soapy water, then air dry to avoid contaminating towels. Plus, you should sanitize each week by washing on the sanitization setting on your dishwasher. Pro tip: also wash human hands before and after feeding your pup, even if you use a scoop.

smilling dog

So to keep your pet smiling, use the right kind of food and water bowl, then wash regularly to combat household germs. Your canine companion will thank you, and your family will be less exposed to dangerous contaminants. We call that a win-win.

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