What Is Lurking In Your Pet Bowl?

Scuzzy, cloudy, grimy…none of these are adjectives you want near your pets’ water or food bowl.  Despite this, sometimes the cleaning routine slips away from you and you find yourself looking at a bowl definitely in need of a scouring.  Let’s take a look at what happens when you don’t clean your bowl regularly, and whether it is anything to get your fur mussed over.

What Is Making the Bowl So Dirty:

The reason why your dog’s water bowl looks so gross after a few days is due to something called biofilm.  When enough bacteria get together, they create a slimy substance that allows them to stick to their surroundings better.  Unfortunately, water in the bowl, protein from dropped food, and the constant supply of fresh bacteria from licking creates the perfect environment for biofilm growth.  When left a few days, the inside of the bowl starts to look pink, cloudy, brown or green. This means biofilm is growing.

Bacteria can be present without showing up as biofilm, but the presence of biofilm means there is a high population of bacteria in the bowl.  In both food and water bowls biofilm typically looks slimy and discolored, but it can be colorless as well.

What Bacteria Is Growing?

The bacteria that can be found in the bowl can cause, or make worse, many different types of illnesses.  The pink slime so many people are familiar with is Serratia marcescens, which can cause wound infections, pneumonia and urinary tract infections.  Many E. coli strains love growing in both food and water bowls, which is responsible for diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Salmonella, like the bacteria found on chicken and fish, can also cause similar symptoms.  These, and many others, are what is lurking in your pets’ food and water bowl when left alone too long.

These bacteria find their way into pet bowls in various ways.  Your pet uses their mouths like hands; carrying, tasting, and licking everything as a way to interact with the world.  That means the normal bacteria present in a pet’s mouth can include all of these and more, but in very small and isolated numbers.  When drinking or eating, the bacteria in their mouth are introduced into the perfect environment to multiply rapidly. This danger to your pet and your health can only be stopped with regular cleaning.

How to Stop Bacteria Growth:

The number one concern of pet owners when picking out equipment for their pet is; how will it look in my space and how easy is it to maintain?  In order to avoid helping these nasty organisms grow in your home, however, buying a bowl that will inhibit biofilm should be the number one concern.  

While many owners prefer plastic bowls, the healthiest material is actually metal, glass, or ceramic.  All of these materials are too dense for bacteria to grow into and do not scratch, both qualities that make the bowls easier to clean and bacteria growth less likely.  Plastic bowls pick up tiny scratches with regular use, which promote bacteria growth and make them harder to clean correctly. It is important to keep in mind that fountain style water bowls promote healthy water consumption, but the charcoal filters typically included in this style do not filter out bacteria and still need frequent cleaning.

In addition to picking out a snazzy bowl in the right material, frequent washing and refreshing of water is necessary.  Just like the cereal bowl, both the food and water dishes just need a quick scrub with dish soap, and the water refilled, every day to ensure the bacteria doesn’t have a chance to take hold.  While the pet professionals at Furry Footsteps, LLC take care of this step when they come for a visit that may include feeding, it’s important to check the bowl every day to make sure an extra scrub isn’t necessary.

Worried about the cleanliness in your bowls, or suddenly realize it’s been a while since you ran them through the dishwasher?  Don’t worry, this service and many others is just one of the many tasks Furry Footsteps, LLC can take care of during their visits.  Give a call today or speak with your pet professional to discuss this part of their routine, and how it can benefit your pet.

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