Dishing Up the Truth about Pet Food Bowls

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Throughout my pet-parenting life I have encountered every eating style imaginable; from a dog that wolfed down his food before it hit the bowl (yeah, a Lab) to a cat that would only eat if I put her food on a paper towel to another who would gobble and vomit after every meal.

For the latter two, visits to the vet confirmed nothing physically wrong but it was recommended that the paper towel continue and that the gobbler have stones placed in his food to slow his eating. Effective options that proved particularly messy when wet food was served.

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Fast forward and we now understand that quality of food is not the only thing we need to consider when we set down our pet’s bowl and yell “dinner.”Size, shape, and depth of their dinnerware are equally important for a number of reasons.

  • Whisker fatigue happens when your feline’s whiskers continuously brush the sides of her bowl. Highly irritating, it can cause her to drag messy food out of her bowl to eat, to leave food in her dish that sits below the rim, or to simply refuse to eat at all.
  • Cats instinctively crouch when they eat to replicate how they ate in the wild with food typically on the ground. Having to stand up over a steep-sided dish to access food is annoying and may cause her to stop eating or pick food out of her bowl to eat from the floor.
  • Gobbling is not uncommon and can result in poor absorption of food, vomiting after meals and in some instances a deadly disease for dogs known as bloat. Noshing down at warp speed needs to stop.
  • Aching joints can make leaning down into a dog dish particularly tough on a large or older dog and cause him to eat partial meals or skip them entirely.
  • Some pets are disturbed by the sound of their tags clinking against a metal bowl, while others can detect the taste of plastic in some dishes. In either instance it’s going to impact their willingness to finish a meal.
  • Flatter faced dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs or Pekingese can have a tough time eating wet food from a regular dog dish without getting caked in it. A messy problem if your dog is older or sick and needs to eat his food versus wear it.

While these issues may sound fussy, don’t write your pet off as a prima donna just yet. Anything that causes them to not eat or drink needs to be tackled head on and to be honest, if swapping out Rover’s food bowl for something he likes better is all it takes to get him back on track, count your blessings.

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So what’s out on the market? Here are a handful of options designed to ensure your little guy enjoys his chow time:

The interior bowl of this pet dish is gently angled to 45 degrees to provide easier access to larger pieces of kibble for better chewing and improved digestion. The unique shape also allows for a cleaner dining experience for flat-faced pooches. The dish is perfect for wet or dry food, holds up to 1 cup of kibble and is produced by Enhanced Pet Products. It is available in top quality, ABS safe plastic and stainless steel.

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CatGuru describes this two-dish set as “whisker friendly” because of each bowl’s wide, shallow shape that works to prevent whisker fatigue that some cats experience when eating. These bowls measure just 1.2 inches deep and 6.6 inches in length and are made from BPA free melamine. Better still, they feature a rippled design to help prevent their food from sliding to the bottom, as well as a non-slip base to keep it in place. 

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Raised feeding dishes are not only great for larger pets who find it difficult to lean down, but they can also aid digestion. This 4-inch high raised feeder includes two standard stainless steel bowls plus an additional bowl that is shallower and ideal for cats with whisker fatigue. A perfect height for smaller pets, this feeder includes rubberized feet to prevent over-exuberant eaters from taking it across the floor.

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Slow your gobbler by making him work for his kibble. This fun, interactive feeder is shaped like a maze – meaning lots of twists and turns. Scatter your pooch’s treats, kibble or wet food between the ridges and turn his mealtime into a challenging game.  It’s molded from one piece of food-grade PP, is phthalate-free and dishwasher safe. These bowls range in size and come in five colors.

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For pooches with joint issues the Super Design Mess Free slanted bowl is it! This stylish food bowl is made from top quality stainless steel set into a non-toxic melamine stand that comes in trendy translucent colors. The gentle 15° slope of the bowl allows your pooch to dine at a more comfortable angle and is ideally aligned for flat-faced dogs. This durable bowl is not only dishwasher safe, but it also has a convenient anti-skid base to prevent the bowl from sliding across the floor. 

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If your pet is a gobbler and his age or health makes the maze- or puzzle-type feeders more irritating than entertaining, a feeding mat might be the perfect solution. Kibble is spread over a large flat surface making it impossible for him to gulp big mouthfuls. He gets his full meal, but in smaller, well-paced bites. We like the Wooly Snuffle Mat – it takes longer for your pet to finish his meal, and you can throw it in the washing machine when it needs a clean.

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Remember that whenever you’re cleaning your pet food or water dishes, don’t use strong chemicals, bleaches or detergents as they can leave a toxic residue. And you should always clean between feedings with a mild soap and rinse thoroughly to ensure your pet’s bowl is clean enough to eat off of.

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