Dog bowls

All pets need access to fresh, clean water, whether they’re a rabbit, a degu, a tortoise or a prickly stick insect. When it comes to cats and dogs it is typical for owners to leave out a water bowl for them to drink from. When it comes to serving food there are a number of options available, with various prices, styles and advantages. We’ve put together this quick guide to bowls to help you make an informed choice when you come to purchase one for your cat or dog.


Pros: Plastics are durable and portable, and are available in an array of colours, sizes and designs. They are low-cost, with some priced at less than £1. Ideally you’ll want something mid-weight and in a non-tip shape to avoid hazardous spillage.

Cons: Plastics can be slightly porous which makes to harder to clean out all of the bacteria it will collect. Plastic surfaces can also develop something called a biofilm, where bacteria and microcultures grow. Also, if your pet is a persistent chewer, a plastic bowl might not be a wise idea as gnawed-off pieces of plastic can be very dangerous if they are accidentally ingested. Also, plastics can stain which can be unappealing to look at.

Stainless steel

Pros: Stainless steel bowls are popular because they are very easy to keep clean, are difficult to break or damage and are light enough to travel with if necessary. Stainless steel is non-porous so it will not develop a biofilm. You’ll need to look for one that has sloped sides to prevent tipping, and a rubberised base so it doesn’t slip around. They are a relatively low-cost option, with a small non-tip stainless steel bowl coming in at around £5.

Cons: Unless you like a more modern look for your pet’s accessories the stainless steel bowls aren’t particularly attractive and there aren’t very many designs to choose from.


Pros: Ceramic water bowls are attractive and sturdy and will not bend or stain. They are easy to clean because of their glaze and will usually last a long time.

Cons: The downside of ceramics is that they can smash or crack if they are dropped or kicked. Any chips or cracks will be porous and, as a result, will collect bacteria and be harder to clean.


Pros: Glass is relatively strong and durable, and as it is non-porous it is easy to keep clean. It’s fairly cheap and comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and colours.

Cons: If glass smashes it can be incredibly dangerous for you, your pet and your family.

Automatic food bowls

Pros: Automatic food bowls have a food reservoir that fills the bowl on a timed basis. This is very convenient and, used properly, will give your pet their food in a timely manner every day.

Cons: They are generally rather pricey compared to a traditional food bowl. It’s also a good idea to feed your dog manually as far as possible as this gives you greater control over their portion sizes. Additionally, having a bowl attached to a food source could result in the device getting trashed or dismantled by your pet in an effort to access the reservoir.

Water fountains

Pros: With particularly thirsty or mucky pets it can be difficult to keep a water bowl constantly topped up and the water fresh. This is where a water fountain could be your best solution, as this will provide a constant stream of fresh water. This could also help engage the attention of pets who are reluctant to drink, such as senior or very young pets.

Cons: These fountain-style water feeders can be rather more expensive than a traditional water bowl, and they may be slightly easier to break if your pet is particularly strong or clumsy.

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