Pet Bowls Guide: Choose the Right Feeder for your Pet

LAST UPDATED 24 JUNE 2022

This article is written by Pet Circle's qualified veterinarian, Dr Gillian Hill, BVSc.

While it may be tempting to use the Chinese leftovers container as a water dish, it's best to invest in a safe, pet approved bowl or feeder. Especially if you have a puppy in the house, cheap plastic is a big no-no as it's easy to break and can be dangerous when swallowed.

Choosing the right bowl or feeder for your pet is more than picking out your favourite colour, factors like material and design or functionality are important too!

Things to consider when choosing a bowl or feeder:

Materials

Functions

Water fountains

Further reading

Different Materials

Pet feeders come in all different shapes, sizes and material compositions. Some pets will prefer to eat and drink from a specific type, and it may take a little trial and error to figure out their tastes! Offering different types of water bowls, particularly for cats who have a weak thirst drive, can help to ensure that your pet drinks enough water each day.

Ceramic bowls

Ceramic bowls are heavy and offer greater stability than a plastic or stainless steel bowl, however be careful not to drop this one! If your pet has a habit of tipping over their bowl or has difficulty keeping it still, this could be the solution you're looking for. Try to avoid purchasing an unglazed ceramic bowl as it is highly porous and will require regular scrubbing to get rid of any nasty bacteria.

Plastic bowls

Plastic and melamine bowls are generally a more cost effective option than ceramic or stainless steel. High quality plastic is quite durable however can be difficult to keep clean as scratches from general wear and tear can become a breeding ground for nasty bacteria. It's best to avoid plastic bowls if you have puppies or other pets who love to chew.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel bowls have earned the title of "vet favourite" as they are easy to keep clean and disinfect. Stainless Steel bowls are sturdy, durable and safe to use around teething pups. Some bowls like the Fuzzyard bowls are made with a sturdy melamine shell and have a removable stainless steel insert for easy cleaning.

Silicon

Silicon makes a great material for travel pet bowls, as they are collapsible, dishwasher safer and durable. Given their function, they are not particularly sturdy and can be destroyed by overly enthusiastic pets, so it is best to use these purely as a travel bowl under supervision.

Function

Gone are the days of just a couple of options to consider when choosing a pet bowl. There are a world of possibilities on offer now, all with different functions and features. Take a read through - you might not realise that your pet's bowl or feeder can offer so many health and practical benefits!

Slow Feeder Bowls

Some dogs and cats are natural gluttons when it comes to meal times, however eating or drinking too quickly may not only cause painful or improper digestion. It may result in vomiting, as the stretch reflex being triggered in the stomach, and it can also result in life threatening Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (commonly known as bloat). Bloat is a dangerous condition that can occur when the stomach is full of gas, water or food. The stomach twists around and cuts off blood supply (similar to a garden hose when you bend it and water cannot flow through) and can cause serious harm to your pet. If bloat is not treated promptly, it can result in death within hours.

Dogs with a deep chest, such as Great Danes and German Shepherds are most at risk of bloat but any breed can be vulnerable if they gulp excessive amounts of food, water and air quickly. Avoid heavy exercise immediately before or after eating; try to leave with at least one hour of rest between activities and eating.

Anti Gulp bowls, also known as slow bowls, have a unique maze-like structure of internal ridges which helps slow down meal time for your pet. Another great way to get your pet out of guzzling their dinner is to ditch the food bowl and use a treat dispensing toy instead. Simply fill an interactive toy like the Kong Wobbler for dogs or Catit Food Maze for cats with your pet's dinner to extend their meal time.

Best Slow Feeders for Pets

Elevated Bowls

Elevated bowls are a great choice for taller or older pets, or those with muscle, joint or neck or spinal problems. They may also assist with digestion for dogs and cats who struggle to eat from ground level.

Automatic Feeders

With our increasingly busy lives, automatic pet feeders are a great tool for hectic households to ensure that your pet is fed the correct amount of food at the correct times. They're also great for pets with a hunkering for more food, who try to convince their owners that they really haven't been fed that day!

Microchip feeders are essential for multi-pet households, where one pet tends to chow down on everyone else's food, or where one pet requires a specific diet.

Lick Mats

Lick mats have multiple benefits. The act of licking has a calming action in pets, so feeding food, treats or pastes can help to keep pets calm, occupied and entertained.Lick mats with deeper spaces or grooves can also be used as a slow feeder, to extend meal time, and to help reduce hunger between meals.

Lick mats also reduce whisker stress for cats - caused when their whiskers touch the sides of a traditional feeding bowl.

Travel Bowls and Accessories

Hitting the road with your dog? If your pets are very much a part of the family like they are for us here at Pet Circle, then travelling with your fur-baby is a wonderful thing! Ensuring that they are well prepared with fresh water, and food provisions if needed is an important part of packing for your journey.

Collapsible bowls and water bottles with inbuilt serving cups make travel easier and more relaxed.

Water fountains

Not just pretty to look at, water fountains have been shown to be effective in increasing your pet's water intake. The flowing water makes it much easier to be seen while the filtration system keeps it clean and fresh. Ditch the stale water dish and add a bit of elegance to your home with a sophisticated and practical water fountain.

Ensuring fresh water is available to your pet at all times is imperative. Not only can it prevent dehydration, it can help prevent urinary crystals and kidney failure. For older pets, particularly those suffering from sight or arthritic complications, having water placed in various areas around the house will help them to keep hydrated with their limited mobility.

Key points to take away

Different bowls will change the way your pet eats or drinks. Before purchasing a food or water bowl, consider the benefits and downsides of the composition material, and whether it meets your functional needs.

Further Reading

How To Choose A Dog Breed That's Right For You

Premium Pet Food: Is it Worth it?

How to stop your dog from inappropriate chewing

Managing Separation Anxiety in Pets