Getting the Right Food Bowls

Today’s post will deal with a topic which may seem completely unimportant, but which has more to it than it may seem: food bowls. We learnt this the hard way, when we found that the bowls we got for Nix were prone to get knocked over. You can read more about our experience in the final part of the post.

Nix’s new food and water bowls, which didn’t turn out as we expected.

There are many types of food bowls: apart from the basic/standard ones, there are also slow eating bowls, automatic food dispensers or bowls which come with their own stand.  This post focuses on standard bowls, as I have not really researched nor experienced the other types.

The first part of the post deals with the different properties of bowls: material, shape, size and non-slip bowls. The second part explains our experience with Nix.

Material

The most common options in terms of material for pet bowls are plastic and metal.

The advantage of plastic bowls versus metallic ones is that they are lighter. However, the plastic can deteriorate easily and show signs of wear. Therefore, I’d only recommend opting for a plastic bowl for travel and/or sporadic use.

On the other hand, metallic bowls are heavier, but they are more resistant and easier to clean, as they are more durable and they do not get damaged as easily. In addition, it’s less likely that your dog will enjoy chewing them, something which may easily happen with a plastic bowl.

Although some people may use glass or ceramic bowls (not intended for dogs) I would not recommend this option unless you’re constantly supervising the dog while he or she has access to the bowl. They may break if your dog knocks them over and your dog may accidentally swallow broken bits of glass or ceramics if he keeps on eating after it has been broken.

Shape

Food (and water) bowls come in many different shapes. I would like to talk about what I call A-shaped and V-shaped (or U-shaped) bowls. A-shaped bowls are narrower on the upper part and wider on their bottom part. In a V-shaped bowl it’s the other way around: they are wider on their upper part and narrower on their bottom. U-shaped bowls have more or less the same width in their top and bottom parts. See pictures below.

An A-shaped bowl on the left-hand side and a V-shaped bowl on the right hand side.

V-shaped or U-shaped bowls are easier to overturn than A-shaped ones. They are also easier to be picked-up by your dog and carried around. Therefore, you should bear this in mind when getting one.

A-shaped bowl turned upside down.
V-shaped bowl turned upside down.
Size

Let me start by stating the obvious: the size of the bowl will depend on your dog’s size. Having said that, and with our experience, I’d recommend getting a smaller bowl for water. The main reason being that water tends to get dirty easily, specially if your dog has played outside right before drinking. A smaller bowl means there’ll be less water wasted when you change it.

Non-slip Bowls

Most (metallic) bowls come with a rubber band on their bottom to prevent the bowl from slipping while your dog eats or drinks. In many cases these rubber bands are not stuck to the bottom of the bowl; instead they are fit in. Over time, they may eventually fall out as the rubber ages and may no longer fit. However, the bowls themselves are still perfectly usable, although more slippery.

In the picture of the blue bowl above, you can notice its rubber band on the bottom to prevent slipping. The other (colourless) bowl has no rubber band, as the rubber deteriorated and no longer stayed in place.

Our experience

When we decided to get Nix, we went to buy some new food bowls for her. We opted for metal, as I don’t particularly like plastic bowls, for the reasons I mentioned above. You can see them in the first picture. I also had the ones that Syd had used, but I didn’t want to reuse them. In the end, it was lucky that I kept them, because it turned out that the new ones we got had some issues.

As shown in the pictures, the new bowls had a slight V-shape, and Nix came home with a bad habit. She would put her paw inside the water bowl and splash water everywhere. By repeating this several times and doing it quickly, she would eventually turn the bowl upside down. It was pretty frustrating, because she spilled water on the floor, she got her paws wet and she made a mess in the house.

However, with the A-shaped bowls, we were able to avoid this. We decided to try them instead and we found that they were much more stable and difficult to turn upside down. She’d still splash water around her bowl, but at least most of the water would keep in it. We decided to keep the V-shaped bowls as her food bowls.

Despite this, there was another minor issue with V-shaped (or U-shaped) bowls. It turns out that dogs can pick them up with their mouths, carry them around and play with them. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s really funny, but it’s also bad manners, in my opinion. Having an A-shaped bowl with a thick, rounded edge would make it much more difficult to carry it around.

Nix carrying her food bowl. She has never picked up the A-shaped one.
Nix playing with her food bowl.

If you’re wondering, our current setup consists of a smaller A-shaped bowl for water, and a bigger, V-shaped one for food, as shown in the second picture of the post. Note that as Nix has grown up she’s been dropping her bad habits. She no longer puts her paw in the water bowl and it’s been some weeks since she last decided to play with her food bowl. So now we could probably use the spare V-shaped bowl for water, as we intended originally. However, I don’t think we will, as we are doing well with the current setup.

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