How to Choose the Right Dog Food Bowl

puppy eating food out of a bowl

A bowl is a bowl, right? Not necessarily when it comes to your dog. When it comes to chowing down, your dog’s needs will vary based on their size, breed, and more. Choosing the right dog food bowl definitely matters and can make a difference in your dog’s health while using the wrong one can cause issues. Here’s how to choose the right dog food bowl:

1. Consider Your Dog’s Characteristics

When it comes to choosing the right dog food bowl for your dog, there are a lot of things you’ll need to consider about your dog. Here are some characteristics of your dog to consider when choosing a dog food bowl:

6 Things to Consider About Your Dog When Choosing a Dog Bowl

1. Overall Size

Different-sized dogs have different requirements for their food bowls. So, you need to consider the overall size of your dog before you get into specific characteristics. Is your dog a giant, large, medium, or small dog breed?

2. Shape of Snout

The shape of your dog’s snout also makes a difference in what type of dog bowl is best for them. Are they are brachycephalic breed, like a Pug, that has a very short muzzle? Is their muzzle a shorter or average length like a Corgi? Do they have a long, thin snout like a Greyhound, Afghan Hound, or Collie?

3. Length of Ears

The length of your dog’s ears can also play a role in what type of dog food bowl is best for them. Dog’s with long ears can often end up with their ears covered in food or water if they’re not using the right type of bowl.

4. Chest-to-Waist Ratio

Narrow or barrel-chested dogs are at a higher risk for bloat in dogs, which can be a serious condition. For these dogs, eating or drinking too fast can increase the risk for bloat. So, a slow-feeder bowl can help slow them down and reduce risk.

5. Eating Style

Your dog’s eating style can also affect what type of dog bowl is best for them. In general, eating too fast or too much at one time isn’t good for your dog. So, if they tend to gulp or hoover water or food, a slow-feeder bowl may be a better fit for them. If your dog grazes or eats slowly, a standard bowl may be a good fit.

6. Age or Physical Limitations

You also want to consider your dog’s age and any physical limitations they may have. Senior dogs, dogs with arthritis, or those recovering from surgery may have trouble reaching a bowl on the floor. So, for these dogs, an elevated dog food bowl can help reduce that difficulty. On the other hand, puppies tend to do better with shallow bowls on the floor because they tend to be smaller and closer to the ground.

2. Think About the Type of Dog Food Bowl

Thankfully, there are several varieties available, which makes it easy to find the perfect dog food bowl for your dog. You can even find bowls with combined features to help you get exactly what you need for your dog. Here are some common types of dog food bowls:

5 Common Types of Dog Food Bowls

1. Shallow Dog Food Bowls

Shallow dog food bowls are the most common type of dog food bowl. These dog food bowls are a good fit for medium dog breeds, small dog breeds, and puppies. Shallow bowls are also a good fit for dogs with a short snout. Not only do they allow for smaller and shorter dogs to reach their food without potentially harmful pressure on their throats, but they also make it easier for dogs with shorter snouts to reach their food more easily.

Corgis, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, Pugs, English Bulldogs, and other small and medium dog breeds tend to be a good fit for shallow dog food bowls. In general, puppies should start out with shallow bowls, but may need to upgrade to a different type of bowl as they grow.

2. Deep Dog Food Bowls

On the other side of the spectrum from shallow bowls are deep dog food bowls. These bowls are a great option for dog breeds that have a long snout. With a deep bowl, breeds like Collies, Afghan Hounds, and Greyhounds can reach their food comfortable and don’t have to “chase” it around as they would if they were using a shallower bowl.

3. Steep-Sided Dog Food Bowls

With a steep-sided dog food bowl, you get a deep bowl with sides are angled upward and inward so the top is narrower than the bottom. These bowls are a great option for dog breeds with long, floppy ears like Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Bloodhounds, Coonhounds, Beagles, and more. The sides of the bowl help keep their ears out of their food and water while still allowing them to easily access it.

4. Elevated Dog Food Bowls

Giant dog breeds, large dog breeds, older dogs, dogs with arthritis, and dogs recovering from surgery are all great candidates for elevated dog food bowls. Elevated dog food bowls come in a ton of different sizes and options, so you are bound to find a set that is just the right height for your dog’s needs. The biggest benefit of this type of dog food bowl is that it allows a dog to eat and drink without putting extra and unnecessary strain on their joints. Siberian Huskies, Labrador Retrievers, Mastiffs, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and more all tend to be a good fit for elevated dog bowls.

If you have a barrel-chested dog breed, like a Boxer, German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, and more, you will want to consult a veterinarian before using an elevated dog food bowl. These types of dog breeds are a higher risk for bloat and there is still some controversy about whether elevated dog food bowls are a good choice for them. Depending on your dog, you may have to balance the risk of bloat with joint care. For example, Great Danes are a dog breed at a higher risk for bloat, but they are also a giant dog breed whose joints are greatly benefitted by having elevated dog food bowls.

5. Slow-Feed Dog Food Bowls

Slow-feed dog food bowls are characterized by their ability to slow a dog down while they are eating or drinking. They often have a maze-like design or compartments that make a dog work a little for food and don’t allow them to take huge mouthfuls at a time. They are a great fit for any dog that tends to eat or drink too quickly. They are also a good option for dog breeds that are at an increased risk for experiencing bloat as it ensures a dog cannot hoover food or gulp water quickly.

3. Examine the Material of the Dog Food Bowl

The material of your dog’s bowl makes a difference as well. Here are some common materials used to make dog food bowls:

4 Common Materials for Dog Food Bowls

1. Plastic or Silicone

Dog food bowls made of plastic or silicone are the most common. These bowls are lightweight, easy to clean, and tend to be cheaper than other materials. But, if your dog is a chewer, they may decide to chew on their dog food bowl too.

They are easy to knock over or push around and can also cause irritation for dogs who have sensitive skin or skin issues. Plus, plastic is porous, so it’s important to keep these bowls clean to prevent harmful bacteria growth. This is not as much of a concern with silicone, but you should still be diligent about keeping your dog’s silicone bowls clean.

2. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel dog food bowls tend to be a little more expensive, but do not tend to cause irritation for dogs with sensitive skin or skin issues. They are also lightweight, easy to clean, and aren’t as prone to bacteria growth as other materials. Your dog likely won’t chew on it, but they can still flip it over or push it around easily.

You also have to be careful about using these bowls outside. They’re metal, so they can heat up enough to burn if left in the sun and get cold enough to freeze in the winter. Because they heat up in the sun, you’ll also have to be careful of where these bowls are placed inside your house and make sure they are not sitting in direct sunlight.

3. Ceramic or Stoneware

Ceramic and stoneware bowls are heavier. They are a little more expensive than plastic and also come in a seemingly endless number of color and design combinations. Your dog is likely not to chew on them and won’t be able to push it around the house as easily as other types.

However, ceramics are porous, so you will need to wash them quickly after every feeding. These are also not a good option for dogs on a raw food diet as they can encourage bacteria growth that can cause food contamination and sickness. It’s also important to make sure they are finished correctly with lead-free finishes to ensure they are not harmful to your dog.

4. Bamboo

Bamboo is a newer dog food bowl material. It’s more sustainable and eco-friendly than other materials, which is good for the environmentally-conscious dog owner. They are also made to be dishwasher safe.

Essentially, these bowls are made to look and feel like plastic without being plastic. If your dog is a chewer, they may decide to chew on this bowl as well. They are lightweight, which means dogs can easily flip them over or push them around the house.

When it comes to choosing a dog food bowl for your dog, there are a lot of things that can make a difference. From your dog’s size and shape to their eating style and more, all of it can affect what type of dog food bowl is best for them. With these tips for how the choose the right dog food bowl, you can make sure you’re on the right track!