Have you ever rubbed your fingers inside your dog’s water bowl and felt a slippery slime substance? If so, their bowl is way over-do for a cleaning. Before we talk about what that slime is and how is affects your dog’s health, let me ask you a quick question: Would you drink out of a used glass that hasn’t been washed for weeks? I hope you said no! Well, just like how you deserve to drink out of a clean glass, so does your dog. (No judgement here – there have been a few times where I’m guilty of refilling their bowl without giving it a good clean first. I have felt the slime before. But now that I know what is it, I’m extremely conscious about cleaning their bowls … hopefully you will be too!)
The slime I mentioned a second ago is called biofilm. It’s a thin, gooey film of bacteria that adheres to various surfaces. While biofilm does contain some good bacteria, it also contains bad bacteria that could make your fur baby sick.
Listeria, E. coli, and legionella are all organisms that call biofilm home. If your dog’s water bowl isn’t cleaned, this bad bacteria will reproduce and their water will become contaminated. Bad biofilms have been linked to urinary tract infections (UTIs), bladder infections, middle-ear infections, and more.
So how do you stop biofilm from forming?
Well, you have to wash your pup’s bowls! Here’s what I do. Throughout the day, every time I refill their bowls, I wipe them down with a paper towel (note: biofilm needs to be physically broken up). Then at the end of the day, I wash their bowls in hot water by hand. I put them in the dishwasher for a deep clean once a week.
Top Cleaning Tips
1) Change water daily
I have two dogs so I have to refill their water throughout the day. However, if there is water left in your dog’s bowl at the end of the day then it’s important to toss it out and give them fresh water. Sitting water breeds bacteria.
2) Wipe bowls in between cleaning
This will help break up the biofilm.
3) Clean regularly
According to the NSF Organization, “Pet dishes should be washed daily, either in a sanitizing dishwasher or scrubbed by hand with hot soapy water, then rinsed. If handwashing, place the dishes in a 1:50 bleach rinse (one cap of bleach in one gallon of water) and soak for about 10 minutes once per week. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.”
4) Use Stainless Steel Bowls
Okay, so this isn’t technically a cleaning tip. But, it’s recommended to use stainless steel or ceramic bowls versus plastic bowls. Plastic dog bowls are very porous and can get scratched easily. For this reason, it’s much easier for bacteria, algae, and mold to collect and grow.