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The Surprising (And Dangerous) Truth About Your Pet’s Bowls

Most folks wouldn’t dream of reusing a dish or glass without washing it. They certainly wouldn’t take the risk of giving their children unwashed drinking glasses or utensils. You can’t assume that your pets are somehow immune to the same germs and viruses that can make you or your kids sick. Learn more about the germs that can harm your pets if you aren’t careful about keeping their food and water bowls clean.

Can Dirty Bowls Make Your Pet Sick?

If you have multiple pets or leave bowls outside, you have to take particular care to keep the dishes clean. Certain bacteria and viruses can easily spread between multiple animals. If bowls are left outside, wild critters may also take a chance to enjoy a drink of water or meal when cats or dogs aren’t outside — or even when they are.

For instance, a vets call Canine parvovirus one of the most dangerous threats to dogs. It can spread quickly from dog to dog, especially when they are kept together in homes or shelters. At the same time, organizations like the National Sanitation Foundation have found that typical dog bowls are one of the least sanitary items found in homes. [1]

If you wouldn’t let your dogs or cats drink out of the toilet, why would you let them drink out of an unwashed bowl? The NSF suggests washing pet bowls at least once every day. They should be cleaned with mild detergent or a dilute bleach solution, rinsed well, dried, and then put back for the pet to use. Even if your pets are free of disease, water dishes are perfect places for mold and algae to grow. If the bowl feels slimy, it’s time to clean it very well.

Keep Pet Bowls Free Of Salmonella And E. Coli

Two germs that can harm humans, cats, dogs, and any other animals include Salmonella and E. coli. Researchers have found evidence of these deadly contaminants in just about two-thirds of all pet bowls that they tested.

old-dog-water-bowl-made-of-steelAlmost everybody understands how dangerous these germs can be, and there have been many recent news stories about contaminated food that make people sick. Most people would be horrified to know that their pet’s dishes are contaminated with these germs. Even very responsible pet owners may have these problems because most dishwashers won’t heat the water enough to erase every trace of them.

That’s why it’s doubly important to make sure that bowls are washed with water AND the kind of solutions that can truly sanitize bowls. One vet, Dr. Vogelsang, has also brought up the point that the oldest and youngest people and pets in a household are the most vulnerable to food poisoning. [2] Pet lovers who have puppies, kittens OR young children, seniors, or ill people in a household must take particular care to keep pet bowls clean.

How to Keep Pet Bowls Clean And Sanitary

So, how can you do more to keep your pet’s bowls free of contamination?

Washing pet dishes by hand or even inside of a dishwasher probably won’t be enough. At least, once a day, you should pick up the bowls and clean off any obvious, visible dirt or leftover food first. Your daily washing routine should include cleaning the bowls in the dishwasher or with the same sort of detergent you normally use inside of the dishwasher.

At least, once a week, you should completely sanitize the bowls. For your weekly sanitation, you can choose between one of two methods:

Use boiling water: You can carefully heat up water to the boiling point, fill the bowl, and then dump the hot water and rinse and dry the bowl. Take care not to burn yourself with this very hot water.

Use bleach: You can also choose to use an effective disinfectant, like bleach, to sanitize the bowls. Allow the bowls to soak for a minimum of ten minutes to make sure germs have been killed. After you use the bleach, make sure that you since the bowls with plain water very well, so your pet doesn’t accidentally ingest this chemical.

Should You Feed Pets Raw Food?

Of course, wild carnivores eat raw meat from their prey. On the other hand, your house pets are not wild animals. Feeding your pets raw meat isn’t any safer than feeding raw meat to your children, grandmother, or yourself.

raw-hamburger-pattyIf you don’t regularly dine on a raw hamburger, you probably shouldn’t expect to feed it to your pet either. A better choice is almost always high-quality kibble. This food has been cooked to kill contaminants.

What Are The Best Pet Bowls Made From?

Plastic bowls might seem cheap and convenient. However, most of them are made from plastic that can develop fractures and cracks that make them difficult to sanitize. The same is true for ceramic bows, and also, it’s too easy to step on ceramic bowls on the floor and break them, so they can be a hazard.

A good choice for pet bowls is those made out of stainless steel. They may seem a little more expensive, but they can stand up to daily use and regular cleaning for years and even decades, so they’re actually a high-quality, durable choice.

Why Commit To Keeping Pet Bowls Clean?

Pets aren’t immune from the same kinds of viruses and bacteria that can make people sick. It’s important to keep up a regular schedule of cleaning and sanitizing Fido’s and Fluffy’s food and water dishes. Just as with people, this is most important for older, younger, or sicker pets. It’s also important to keep pet bowls free of contamination that could be transmitted to people or may be shared with other animals.

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